As Week 5 of the 2016 NFL season continues, Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans traveled to Minneapolis for their game against Sam Bradford and the Minnesota Vikings. Heading into the game with a record of 3-1, Houston’s two-game lead over every other team in the AFC South assured them that they’d still be the division leaders after Week 5, regardless of any outcomes.
The same could be said about the Vikings in the NFC North. Even if Minnesota had lost to Houston, the Vikings would still have had a half-game lead in their division, even under the assumption that the Green Bay Packers defeat the New York Giants on Sunday night.
According to the injury report at NFL.com, the Houston Texans would be missing as many as four players for their Week 5 contest. Players definitely sitting out for the game against the Vikings included tight end Stephen Anderson (hamstring injury) and running back Jonathan Grimes (ankle injury). Listed as questionable were tackle Duane Brown (knee injury) and cornerback Kareem Jackson (hamstring injury).
Minnesota’s injury forecast was a little worse for Week 5, with knee injuries plaguing multiple players. Both defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and tight end David Morgan were out with knee injuries, while tight end Rhett Ellison was listed as doubtful with a knee injury of his own. Also listed as doubtful was wide receiver Stefon Diggs (groin injury), while tackle Andre Smith was out with an elbow injury.
According to the odds posted at Odds Shark, the Minnesota Vikings were 6.5 point favorites at home against the Houston Texans, with the spread ranging from six to seven points depending on where bets were placed. The over/under was set at 38.5 points.
As predicted by the standard fantasy football scoring provided by the NFL, Minnesota running back Jerick McKinnon was expected to be the highest fantasy football point producer in today’s game, with a projected 19.40 points, while Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford was projected to bring home 15.62 points for his fantasy football owners. For the Houston Texans, the player with the highest projected fantasy football numbers for Week 5 was wide receiver Will Fuller, who was expected to be good for 12.80 points this week, while Brock Osweiler was projected to earn an even 12.00 points for anyone with the Houston quarterback in their starting line-up. As far as defense is concerned, Minnesota was one of four teams leading the way with a projected 11 points in Week 5, while the Houston Texans defense was expected to score just 5 points.
After being on the receiving end of the kick-off, the Minnesota Vikings started the first drive of the game on their own 16-yard line. The 84-yard opening drive allowed Minnesota to set the tone for the game early on, as Adam Thielen caught a pass from Sam Bradford and beat all of the Houston defenders to the end zone. After a successful extra point from Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh, the Vikings took a 7-0 lead.
On the following drive, Houston’s first offensive attempt began at their own 17-yard line. After three downs, the Texans were forced to punt. After Marcus Sherels returned the punt, Minnesota started their second drive of the game on their own 45-yard line.
Despite the continued on-field absence of Adrian Peterson, the combination of Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon caused plenty of trouble for Houston, with Asiata scoring Minnesota’s second touchdown of the game after a short run in their second drive of the game. With more than six minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Minnesota Vikings took a commanding 14-0 lead over the Texans.
In Houston’s second drive of the game, Brock Osweiler and company started on their own 25-yard line after a touchback. Unfortunately for the Texans, it was another three and out, with their second punt of the game coming after just six offensive attempts. Minnesota started their third drive just shy of their own eight-yard line after a holding penalty on the punt return. Houston’s defense finally stepped up, however. As the Vikings faced 3rd and 10, Bradford was sacked just inches short of a safety. At 4th and 17 from their own goal line, the Vikings were forced to punt. Houston took over on Minnesota’s 38-yard line after a solid punt return.
The Texans couldn’t keep the momentum on their side, however. After failing yet again to earn a first down, Houston kicker Nick Novak missed a 51-yard field goal attempt that wasn’t even close.
Taking over on their own 41-yard line, the Vikings marched the ball to another first down on Houston’s 45-yard line as the first quarter came to a close.
As the drive continued, the Vikings found themselves facing 2nd and goal from Houston’s sixteen. A 15-yard pass put them at 3rd and goal from the one, but they were unable to convert. Instead, Blair returned to the field to kick an easy 19-yard field goal, putting Minnesota up 17-0.
After returning the kick to their own 21 yard line, the Houston Texans looked to earn a first down for the first time in the game. But the Minnesota defense kept the pressure up and Houston was forced to punt on 4th and 9. As it turned out, it wouldn’t be long before Houston got the ball back. After collecting the punt on the Vikings’ own 21-yard line, Sherels ran the ball back 79 yards for Minnesota’s third touchdown of the game. After Blair put in the extra point, Minnesota took a 24-0 lead.
With less than nine minutes remaining in the first half, a touchback gave the Texans a starting position at their own 25-yard line. After a pass interference call on Xavier Rhodes, Houston finally had a first down. Now at Minnesota’s 35-yard line, Osweiler slipped and caused a six-yard loss before throwing an incomplete pass on 2nd and 16. Following that with a 12-yard pass to Lamar Miller, the Texans went for it on 4th and 4. Osweiler was sacked by the Vikings defense after scrambling, but Minnesota was called for holding, and Houston was given a new set of downs.
Facing 3rd and 6, Houston failed again to earn a single first down that wasn’t handed to them by a Minnesota penalty. This time around, Novak kicked the football right between the goal posts, finally putting the Texans on the board. Still down 24-3, the momentum would continue to build for Houston during Minnesota’s next drive.
Facing 3rd and 9 after two offensive attempts, Bradford was sacked by Houston linebacker Whitney Mercilus. The Vikings punted on 4th and 16 and the ball was downed by Minnesota on Houston’s 46-yard line. Facing 4th and 2 after three plays, Osweiler was sacked by the Vikings defense. There was a flag, however, and Minnesota was called for offsides. The five-yard penalty was all Houston needed for another first down gifted to them from Minnesota’s defensive mistakes.
But Osweiler finally turned things up a little, earning another couple of first downs for Houston that put them on Minnesota’s 12-yard line with about two minutes to play in the half. Three plays later, they had failed to advance the ball, and Novak was brought in for his third field goal attempt of the game. With the score now at 24-6, the Vikings would get the ball back with a little more than 90 seconds to play in the second quarter.
After a few insignificant offensive plays, the Vikings took the 24-6 lead with them into halftime.
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The Houston Texans were the receiving team as the second half began, and found themselves facing 3rd and 12 from their own 29-yard line shortly thereafter. They were unable to convert after a completed pass left them six yards short, and the Texans were forced to punt once again. Minnesota would begin their first drive of the half at their own 21-yard line.
The drive began with a 31-yard pass from Bradford to Thielen, putting them on Houston’s side of the field after just one play. However, just a few plays later, they found themselves facing 3rd and 30. Minnesota being forced to punt one play later, Houston started their second drive of the half just shy of their own 25-yard line.
But the Texans weren’t able to build on the momentum they started at the end of the first half. On the third play of the drive, Osweiler gave up his first interception of the game. Minnesota would take the ball back, although there was an injury scare on the play. Tight end Ryan Griffin was helped off the field after he made a tackle on Andrew Sendejo, the Minnesota free safety that snagged Osweiler’s pass.
A few plays later, backup tight end Michael Pruitt was taken to the sidelines to be looked at by Minnesota’s training staff. As the injuries were being attended to, the Vikings failed to earn another first down. They punted the ball, and Houston would start their next drive from their own nine-yard line.
On the next drive, Osweiler and the Texans offense finally started to click, as the Houston quarterback connected with three passes that resulted in first downs. But when they faced 3rd and 7 from Minnesota’s 30-yard line, Osweiler was sacked by Tom Johnson. After going for it on 4th and 16, the Texans ended up losing the ball on downs. The Vikings would take over with an eighteen point lead and the ball on their own 35-yard line with just under four minutes to play in the third quarter.
While the third quarter would ultimately be a scoreless one for both teams, Minnesota entered the final quarter of play with a completed pass to Matt Asiata, who wasn’t stopped until the eight-yard line.
As the final fifteen minutes of play began, Minnesota had an 18-point lead and a 1st down inside the red zone. It only took two offensive attempts before the Vikings scored another touchdown, as Bradford connected with Cordarrelle Patterson in the end zone. Up 31-6 after the extra point, Minnesota’s defense only had to prevent Houston from scoring three touchdowns (and then some) to ensure the Vikings remained undefeated in 2016.
On Houston’s next drive, they got the ball on Minnesota’s half of the field while facing 3rd and 2. But the Vikings defense remained relentless, sacking Osweiler and forcing another punt on 4th and 14. But Minnesota failed to make any significant progress on the following drive and were forced to punt as well.
Osweiler would lead the Texans on a successful 12-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a two-yard touchdown pass to Deandre Hopkins. But it was too little, too late, as Minnesota still had a 31-13 lead with less than four minutes to play. The predictable onside kick that followed gave Minnesota a drive that started on Houston’s 46-yard line. With Houston’s defense still unable to stop Minnesota’s offense, the Vikings had no trouble running out the rest of the time on the clock. Minnesota marches on undefeated at 5-0, while the Houston Texans drop to 3-2.
Where to Watch Minnesota Vikings vs. Houston Texans
The Texans at Vikings game can be streamed online with a subscription to the NFL Game Pass service.
The NFL Week 5 match-up between the Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans aired live from the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. The game was televised on CBS and the NFL RedZone. For fans on the road, the game was also broadcast on Sirius XM Radio.
[Featured Image by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images]