The Minnesota Vikings hosted the Cleveland Browns on September 22, 2013 to open their regular season home game schedule. The Vikings came into the game 0-2, both losses came at the end of the game on the road against NFC North division rivals. The team needed to right the ship and get a win in their first home game of the 2013 NFL season.
The Vikings got the crowd going in the first quarter scoring in the sixth minute of the game on a 2 yard Adrian Peterson run. Peterson was stood up at the one yard line but kept churning his legs and, with the help of his line, in the end willed the ball into the end zone to start the scoring for the game. Vikings fans were ecstatic and the way the game started.
Four and a half minutes later the stadium would be stunned when Cleveland’s 3rd string quarterback Brian Hoyer hit receiver Josh Gordon on a 47 yard pass for a touchdown. The first quarter ended with the score tied at seven but five seconds into the second quarter Hoyer hit tight end Jordan Cameron for a 19 yard pass to, along with the extra point, put the Browns up 14-7.
Cleveland had a few tricks up their sleeve including a fake field goal that resulted in an 11 point touchdown pass from holder Spencer Lanning to Cameron. In all the Browns added ten more points before the half. Vikings’ quarterback Christian Ponder would run six yards in for a touchdown and kicker Blair Walsh kicked, along with the extra point on the Ponder score, a 43 yard field goal with about a minute left in the half. The halftime score saw Cleveland up by a touchdown at 24-17.
The Vikings intercepted three passes on the day with fan favorites Harrison Smith, Chad Greenway picking off passes and Erin Henderson snatching a pass that was batted by defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd. With that said the defense was porous throughout the game, allowing a bruised Cleveland Browns offense to run and throw all over the field.
The Browns passed for 306 yards and rushed for 103, a total of 409 yards of offense compared to Minnesota’s 329. Perhaps the most disturbing statistic of the day for Vikings fans is how the Browns converted two out of three fourth down plays, both on silly trick plays.
The Vikings will head off to London tomorrow to prepare for next week’s game, the NFL week four game, against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They will have a bye week in week five to assess the offense, defense and special teams and see if they can get their season on track.
Despite the negatives from the game there were a couple shining moments. Marcus Sherels came through on several key plays, including forcing a fumble on a punt return, giving the ball to the Vikings with a short field. Harrison Smith continues to play at an elite level punishing receivers who dare to catch and run in his territory; Smith always seems to be close to the play no matter where it happens on the field. Smith also picked up an interception in the game.