MINNEAPOLIS —Kyle Rudolph climbed into second place all-time for yards by a Vikings tight end, but Minnesota moved down in the NFC North standings.
Rudolph led the Vikings with 97 yards on eight catches, pushing his career yardage to 2,451 and ahead of Visanthe Shiancoe (2,424). He trails only Steve Jordan (6,307).
A steep climb remains for sure, and that's also the case for the Vikings hopes of making the playoffs thanks to a 34-6 loss to Indianapolis.
"It's hard when you've got your back against the wall and need to come out swinging to play the way we did," Rudolph said.
Both teams are 7-7 with two games to play, and the Vikings are now in third place in the NFC North after starting the season with five wins in a row.
"We can't worry about how we started or how we got to 7-6," Rudolph said. "We got to 7-6, and everything we needed to achieve was still in front of us coming into today. The Colts were in the same situation that we're in, probably needing to win out, and they played like it, and we did not."
An offense that's dealt with injuries since the preseason hoped that Adrian Peterson's first game since Week 2 would provide a big **spark**.
"He looked like Adrian at practice all week, and you see the way he runs and hits the holes, I truly thought he was going to be a nice spark for us, and today was going to be a game that you have points in your season that kind of propel you on into a five, six, seven-game win streak," Rudolph said. "I thought today was going to be that day."
Peterson had six carries for 22 yards. His long was 13 yards but ended with a fumble in the red zone when the Vikings trailed 17-0. It was one of three turnovers by the Vikings and created the need to throw the ball more to try to catch up.
Rudolph would have traded any and all to have a game that was more balanced. Because the Vikings fell behind so far, they attempted 42 passes and just nine runs.
Minnesota's possessions in the first half: punt, punt, punt, fumble, interception. The Vikings had two first downs and 69 yards off offense.
A promising drive to start the second half ended in a sack fumble caused by Robert Mathis.
"We did what we do from an offensive standpoint, game plan-wise," Rudolph said. "We had all of our stuff up, our good runs, the same passes. It's hard to stick to a game plan when you get down as much as we did, so we really didn't even have a chance to get Adrian going by starting as slow as we did."
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer opened his press conference by listing his **disappointments with the defense**.
"Very poor, lethargic, didn't get off blocks, didn't make tackles, busted coverage, didn't cover people, poor on third down," Zimmer said. "They had **three drives over 80 yards*** *for touchdowns. Not a very good day today.
The Vikings only allowed four drives of 88 or more yards in their first 13 games of the season but yielded three to the Colts. Two of those, and a 52-yard touchdown drive were extended by penalties against the Vikings.
Linval Joseph was flagged for leverage during a short field goal attempt by Adam Vinatieri, giving the Colts a fresh set of downs at the Minnesota 1 and leading to a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. It was downhill from there.
"Penalties always kill you. In that situation, some are more critical than others. You can't have penalties ever," said Eric Kendricks, who added that the Vikings will keep fighting.
"This team is always going to work hard," Kendricks said. "We didn't put it together, weren't on the same page, penalties, third downs. They played good, but it's on us."
Nick Easton returned to the lineup after missing two games, but he shifted to right guard in place of Brandon Fusco. The Vikings kept Nick Easton at center for the third week in a row. It was Berger's first start at guard since the 2014 season finale.
The lineup of Anthony Harris at left tackle, Pat Elflein at left guard, Easton, Berger, and Jeremiah Sirles at right tackle was the seventh different starting combination used by the Vikings this season.
Brian Robison became the fourth Vikings defensive end to start 100 games. It was his 156th regular-season game.
One of 3
Kyle Rudolph became the third Vikings quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season. Bradford's 291 on the day give him 3,245 this season. He trails Warren Moon (4,264) and Brett Favre (4,202).
Elsewhere in the division
Detroit fell to 9-5 with a loss to the New York Giants, and Green Bay improved to 8-6. The Lions and Packers play each other in Detroit in the final game of the season.
The Vikings are now third in the division and visit the Packers at noon Saturday. The Lions will visit the Cowboys on Dec. 26.