MINNEAPOLIS — Vikings running back Adrian Peterson liked what he saw in his first in-person look at Rams rookie Todd Gurley.
The veteran liked what he saw from the Vikings defense even more.
Peterson and Gurley had similar stats throughout the game, but overtime was another story.
The Vikings defense stopped Gurley for a loss of 6 on the first play for St. Louis in the extra session when Harrison Smith slowed down Gurley by grabbing his arm until Linval Joseph racked up his third tackle for loss of the game. It was the only touch for Gurley in overtime of a game that Minnesota won 21-18.
After the Vikings got the ball in great shape at their own 49-yard line thanks to a 26-yard punt return by Marcus Sherels, Peterson rushed four times for 21 yards during a drive that covered 29 yards with Shaun Hill filling in for Teddy Bridgewater, who was sidelined with a concussion. Blair Walsh capped the possession with a 40-yard field goal.
"We're just playing team football," Joseph said. "I'm glad we went on defense first because at the end of the day, we had to go out there and get a stop to get the energy going, and that's what we did."
The carries pushed Peterson's tally to 29 rushes for 125 yards with a long of 15 and a 6-yard TD. Gurley rushed 24 times for 89 yards with a long of 16 and a 1-yard score.
"I don't plan on passing the torch anytime soon," Peterson said. "He came out and had a good game. I was able to sit back and watch him. He's a very explosive and strong back. I would just like to encourage him to keep pushing. He's going to come out of his game against our defense as a better player.
"The offensive line, they took it personally all week, kept fighting," Peterson said. "We were able to be productive in the run game and were able to set it up for Blair, and he nailed it."
Walsh's second game-winning kick in as many weeks lifted the Vikings to 6-2 on the season and into a tie with Green Bay for first place in the NFC North.
"It's a great feeling. I had no doubt in my mind that Blair was going to make that kick," Harris said. "I feel like as an offense, when it was gut-check time, we performed."
Harris delivered a key block on Peterson's touchdown, pulling around the right side of a formation that used three tight ends.
"It was a good play call by the coach," Harris said. "We knew they were going to load up the box with extra linebackers inside so we knew we had to get the edge on them and take it to the outside. I had a lot of opportunities to pull. It was a great feeling to see him score, especially with me being the lead blocker. I was really excited at that moment."
It was the 90th rushing touchdown of Peterson's career and 95th score overall. He is the sixth player to have 90 rushing TDs in his first nine seasons. Peterson also moved into ninth place all-time with his 46th game of 100 or more rushing yards.
Walsh on a roll: Walsh drilled field goals of 34 and 40 yards, a PAT, and all five of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.
A week after a 36-yard kick as time expired in Chicago, Walsh became the first Viking to hit two game winners in a row since Ryan Longwell in 2008. It was the third overtime winner of Walsh's career, setting a new franchise record. Walsh has made 15 straight field goals.
As he frequently does during the week, Walsh practiced kicking at TCF Bank Stadium Wednesday and said he probably kicked 60 balls in conditions that were a little less windy than Sunday.
"I kicked that exact kick on Wednesday, so it was nice to come back out here and say, 'Hey, I'm comfortable in this stadium, and I've said this all along — we can make this stadium our home-field advantage."
Walsh capped his day by thanking military members in attendance for the annual Salute to Service game:
— Charlie Brose (@Chas_Brose) November 9, 2015
Depth tested:In addition to Hill managing a three-point lead for much of the fourth quarter in place of Bridgewater, the Vikings depth also was tested on defense.
Rookie Trae Waynes stepped in after Terence Newman was sidelined with a head injury. Newman was inadvertently kicked in the face when Gurley tried to hurdle him. Chad Greenway filled in for Eric Kendricks (inactive because of a ribs injury) first at the nickel position while Audie Cole started for Kendricks. Cole, however, suffered a foot/ankle injury that ended his day and led to the first snaps Greenway has ever had at middle linebacker. The Vikings called on Brandon Watts at weakside linebacker when Greenway moved to the middle.
"I think they did a great job. Trae came in and did a great job for us," Captain Munnerlyn said. "[Brandon] Watts, when his number was called, he was ready to go, came in, made plays and Shaun Hill. Shaun Hill managed the game real well and moved the offense down the field to get the game-winning field goal — against his former team, that's huge."
10 and 10: Greenway and Joseph tied for the team lead with 10 tackles (press box tally). Joseph shared a sack with Andrew Sendejo when the Vikings brought the safety off the edge and led the Vikings with three tackles for loss. Minnesota totaled eight tackles for loss, including two by Brian Robison.
3 stats that stood out:
The Vikings defense held the Rams to 2-for-16 on third downs (12.5 percent).
Minnesota's offense went 2-for-3 (two touchdowns) on trips inside the St. Louis 20 against a team that entered atop the NFL in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns just 31.3 percent of the time.
The Vikings had 96 yards on four kickoff returns and allowed 0 on five kickoffs.