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Place: Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Minnesota Vikings remain one of the league’s biggest early surprises, but they had to survive an inept performance on offense to continue their drive for an NFC North crown.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, meanwhile, had nothing to show for their best offensive output of the season. Minnesota will look to double last season’s win total when they host the Buccaneers on Thursday night.
The Vikings remained perfect at home with an ugly 21-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday while the Buccaneers blew a 14-point lead against the New Orleans Saints to absorb their fourth loss in the last five games.
Tampa Bay won at Minnesota in Week 2 last season before unraveling and finishing the season on a 10-game losing streak.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4): Tampa Bay rolled up a season-best 513 yards of total offense and Josh Freeman threw for a career-high 420 yards, but the Bucs were unable to hold off Drew Brees and the Saints after building a 21-7 lead.
Vincent Jackson hauled in seven catches for 216 yards and one of Freeman’s three TD passes, but Tampa Bay failed to scored on a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line and had two apparent tying touchdowns in the final five seconds negated by a penalty and a receiver landing out of bounds. Rookie running back Doug Martin had his highest output since the season opener with 85 yards and a TD on 16 carries.
Minnesota Vikings (5-2): Minnesota’s second-half performance against Arizona was an eyesore, but the one positive was the re-emergence of star running back Adrian Peterson. He powered his way to a season-high 153 yards on 23 carries and scored his first touchdown since Week 1.
The passing game was another story, particularly in the second half. Christian Ponder threw for only 58 yards – four in the second half – with one TD and two interceptions. Minnesota managed only 12 first downs and 209 total yards, punting on its first five possessions of the second half and going three-and-out four straight times. DE Jared Allen had two of the Vikings’ seven sacks.
1. The Buccaneers have won the last five meetings between the teams.
2. Peterson is tied with Robert Smith (29) for the most 100-yard games in franchise history.
3. Buccaneers S Ronde Barber had his third interception of the season and 46th of his career last week.