Dave Campbell / Associated Press, Published October 07 2012
Harvin helps Vikings improve to 4-1
AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS – Percy Harvin gave Minnesota another big lift.
With Harvin’s variety-pack production, Adrian Peterson’s post-injury resurgence and a restored defense, the Vikings are sure soaring right now.
Harvin had one touchdown rushing and another receiving to help the Vikings keep up their commanding start to the season with a 30-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
“He’s the best player I’ve ever played with,” Peterson said.
Harvin caught eight passes for 108 yards for the Vikings (4-1), who have given up a combined 33 points in winning three straight games. Christian Ponder threw his first two interceptions after 143 attempts without one this year, but he still finished 25 for 35 for 258 yards and two scores against the reeling Titans (1-4), the latest team that couldn’t contain Harvin.
“A beast, that’s probably a good way to describe him,” Ponder said, adding: “We’re going to keep giving him the ball.”
Adrian Peterson charged his way to 88 yards on 17 carries for the Vikings, another strong performance on his surgically repaired left knee. That was a stark contrast to the 24 yards Chris Johnson managed on 15 tries, often stutter-stepping at the line, trying fruitlessly to find room.
“We are who we are. There’s no draft coming up. There’s no adding more players and getting new coaches,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “This is the group we have, and with this group we have to play much better.”
Once again, the Titans couldn’t keep handing their franchise runner the ball because they fell too far behind. Matt Hasselbeck, subbing for injured starter Jake Locker, went 26 for 43 for 200 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Most of those gains came near the end of the game with the outcome no longer in doubt.
“It’s kind of disappointing to be going down the same road every Sunday,” Johnson said.
Ponder didn’t complete a pass longer than 29 yards in any of the first four games, but the Vikings took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter fueled by the long throw that’s been missing. Ponder floated a perfect pass up the sideline to Harvin, who hauled in the ball in man-to-man coverage for a 45-yard gain. The fourth-year do-it-all wide receiver then took an inside handoff and pounded his way into the end zone four plays later from 4 yards out.
Harvin’s second score put the seal on this one, a highlight-reel catch and run to add to his already-impressive collection of video clips. Grabbing a quick swing pass at the line of scrimmage, Harvin used the same hesitation move twice to get overeager defenders to fly past him before bouncing into the end zone.
“A couple times they tell me, ‘Slow down, I can’t catch up,’” Harvin said. “I look at them and laugh and say, ‘That’s my job.’”
Ponder was picked off by Rob Johnson right in front of the goal line at the end of the second quarter and again by Jason Babineaux on the first play of the second half, and with a healthy two-possession lead he settled for low-risk throws for most of the rest of the game. Except early in the fourth quarter, when he fired a 15-yard pass in double coverage that sure-handed tight end Kyle Rudolph hauled in to give the Vikings their highest score of the season.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave had to talk head coach Leslie Frazier into approving that play, since the boss was more concerned about draining the clock. When it worked, Frazier had a huge smile on his face. Harvin had the rare opportunity to take his pads off and watch the last few minutes on the sideline.
“We’re just going to keep working and keep working,” he said, “and hopefully we’ll be sitting out a lot of fourth quarters.”
With their first three-game winning streak since November 2009, the Vikings are rolling, but ever cautious about getting too comfortable.
“If you get too excited over a 4-1 start, you’ll drop one and you can’t get that back,” Rudolph said.
Tennessee 0 0 0 7 – 7
Minnesota 7 6 10 7 – 30
Min – Harvin 4 run (Walsh kick), 2:31.
Min – FG Walsh 42, 10:27.
Min – FG Walsh 36, 1:52.
Min – FG Walsh 26, 5:07.
Min – Harvin 10 pass from Ponder (Walsh kick), :05.
Ten – Cook 10 pass from Hasselbeck (Bironas kick), 10:35.
Min – Rudolph 15 pass from Ponder (Walsh kick), 6:38.
A – 57,652.
First downs 18 25
Total Net Yards 267 433
Rushes-yards 19-52 31-175
Passing 215 258
Punt Returns 2-25 2-(-1)
Kickoff Returns 2-61 0-0
Interceptions Ret. 2-12 1-6
Comp-Att-Int 29-48-1 25-35-2
Sacked-Yards Lost 2-19 1-0
Punts 6-42.7 3-46.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 10-75 5-60
Time of Possession 26:54 33:06
RUSHING: Tennessee, C.Johnson 15-24, Hasselbeck 2-10, Babineaux 1-10, Reynaud 1-8. Minnesota, Peterson 17-88, Gerhart 6-41, Ponder 3-31, Asiata 2-8, Harvin 2-8, Webb 1-(minus 1).
PASSING: Tennessee, Hasselbeck 26-43-1-200, Smith 3-5-0-34. Minnesota, Ponder 25-35-2-258.
RECEIVING: Tennessee, Wright 9-66, Cook 5-37, Washington 3-29, Ringer 3-12, Britt 2-23, Stevens 2-14, Reynaud 1-17, Q.Johnson 1-15, Williams 1-9, Thompson 1-7, C.Johnson 1-5. Minnesota, Harvin 8-108, Rudolph 4-23, Jenkins 3-35, Aromashodu 3-34, Peterson 3-15, Ellison 2-35, S.Burton 1-6, Carlson 1-2.
MISSED FIELD GOALS: None.