The Texans Sunday seemed to have all eyes on stopping running back Adrian Peterson of the Vikings.
Problem is, they seemed to forget about the rest of the team. Peterson was held to 86 yards, but the rest of the Vikings played well better than the Texans, upsetting Houston 23-6.
The win means that the Vikings, now 9-6, keep their playoff hopes alive.
Christian Ponder threw a touchdown pass, Toby Gerhart added a score and Blair Walsh kicked three field goals for Minnesota.
The loss kept the Texans (12-3) from clinching home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. They could still secure a first-round bye if Denver loses later Sunday.
Peterson had his lowest rushing total since getting 79 yards on Oct. 14 in a loss at Washington, breaking a streak of eight 100-yard games. The Texans though couldn’t seem to catch up with the sudden improved play of Ponder.
The Vikings took a 10-3 lead when Walsh kicked a 56-yard field goal. The kick gave Walsh, a rookie, the NFL record with nine field goals of 50 yards or longer this season.
The Texans failed to score a touchdown for the first time since 2006. J.J. Watt had a sack to leave him with 20 1/2 this season.
Houston got within 10 points before Gerhart’s 3-yard run extended the lead to 23-6 with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter. That drive was helped by a 29-yard run by Ponder.
Ponder was 16 of 30 for 174 yards to help the Vikings pile up 345 yards. He finished with seven rushes for 48 yards – 14 more yards rushing than the Texans had. Arian Foster had 10 rushes for 15 yards before leaving with about nine minutes left in the third quarter with an irregular heartbeat.
Coach Gary Kubiak said he is OK, but he was taken out as a precaution. Ben Tate took over and didn’t fare much better with four carries for 17 yards.
Matt Schaub went 18 of 32 for 178 yards for Houston, who will try to clinch home-field in the AFC next week as they play at the Colts, who clinched a playoff spot Sunday.