Indianapolis 34, Minnesota 6
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, December 18, 2016
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS -- If the Indianapolis Colts miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year, it will not be for a lack of effort late in the season. They still face long odds of getting back to the playoffs, but they're not going away quietly.
On a frigid day in Minnesota, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck could hardly have been hotter inside the new U.S. Bank Stadium, leading the Colts to a 34-6 blowout of the Vikings.
"I don't know what it is about this group, but it seems like when our backs are against the wall and we're in a must-win situation, it seems like all hope it lost ... this team responds," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.
Luck was 21 of 28 for 250 yards and two touchdowns as the Colts (7-7) jumped out to a 27-0 halftime lead.
Running back Robert Turbin had touchdown runs of 1 and 6 yards for Indianapolis, and Frank Gore had his second triple-digit game of the season with 101 yards on 26 carries.
"Give credit to the offensive line," Turbin said after Luck was not sacked in the game. "They were in attack mode today and it really helped the run game. It really helped me and Frank and made it easier on us. It really helped Andrew in the pass game."
The Vikings, hyped about the return of star running back Adrian Peterson to their lineup, left the sellout crowd little reason to cheer in their most lopsided loss of the season. Peterson, who received a thunderous ovation when he was the final offensive starter announced, had been out since being injured in the third quarter of the Vikings' Week 2 win over Green Bay.
He gained 22 yards on six carries and had a costly fumble on Minnesota's first drive inside Colts territory. Peterson had just two carries in the second half.
After a 5-0 start to the season, the Vikings are now 7-7 and will likely need to win their two remaining games, and get significant help, if they are to return to the playoffs.
"Back to work," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "I want to find out who is going to fight. Because that was not a fighting performance there. They were more physical than us today. Played with more tenacity than we did."
Up 3-0, the Colts opened a double-digit lead on their second drive. Once the Colts stalled at the Vikings' 3-yard line after three straight incomplete passes, Adam Vinatieri hit a 21-yard field goal.
But Vikings defender Linval Joseph was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct on the kick, giving the Colts a new set of downs from the 1. Turbin punched it in from there for a 10-0 lead.
"Trying to do too much," Joseph said. "Penalties lose games, and we had too much today."
In the second quarter, Luck led a methodical 92-yard drive, capped when he floated a 27-yard pass to tight end Erik Swoope down the left sideline for a 17-0 advantage.
Minnesota got good field position on the ensuing drive thanks to a 40-yard kick return by Cordarrelle Patterson and a 15-yard penalty tacked on. But Peterson's fumble on the 9-yard line, and an ensuing 91-yard touchdown drive orchestrated by Luck, made it 24-0.
Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford was 32 of 42 for 291 yards with one interception and one lost fumble.
"That was about as tough and about as ugly as they get today," said Bradford, who was sacked five times.
Luck opened the fourth quarter with a 50-yard touchdown bomb to Phillip Dorsett to make the score 34-3 and send thousands of Vikings fans out into the sub-zero cold.
"It's a really, really good defense and we managed to come out on the positive end more often than not," Luck said. "We've done a decent job in backed-up situations all year, so we were glad to get those drives again in this one."
Kai Forbath hit field goals of 32 and 51 yards for Minnesota's only points. He is now 10 of 10 on field goal attempts since the Vikings cut struggling Blair Walsh and signed Forbath last month.
NOTES: Sunday's game was the first meeting between the Colts and Vikings since Sept. 6, 2012 -- a 23-20 Indianapolis win at Lucas Oil Stadium. ... The Vikings were short-handed in the defensive backfield, with S Harrison Smith (sprained left ankle) and CB Trae Waynes (concussion) both inactive. ... With third-round draft pick Le'Raven Clark getting the start at right tackle in place of inactive Denzelle Good (concussion), the Colts had three rookies on the starting offensive line for the second time this season. ... Vikings starting FB Zach Line left the game in the second quarter with a concussion. ... Outside temperature at kickoff was -9 Fahrenheit.
Top Game Performances
Team Stats Summary
Minnesota will play their next game on the road against Green Bay. The Vikings have a W/L % of .625 after a win and .333 after a loss.
Indianapolis will play their next game on the road against Oakland. The Colts have a W/L % of .143 after a win and .857 after a loss.