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Vikings Wrangle Texans 31-13, Remain Undefeated

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MINNEAPOLIS — Adam Thielen started the party. The Vikings defense and another great punt return for a score by Marcus Sherels kept it going.

Thielen was part of the effort to fill in for injured Stefon Diggs and caught a 23-yard pass and a 36-yard touchdown from Sam Bradford on Minnesota's opening drive.

The Vikings led wire-to-wire and defeated the Texans 31-13 to improve to 5-0 to start the season and extend their best start since 2009.

Running backs Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon combined for 44 yards on the Vikings second possession, a 55-yard touchdown drive capped with a 1-yard power run by Asiata, who also had a 23-yard reception on third-and-6, the only third down the Vikings needed to convert on their first two possessions.

The Vikings defense forced three punts and a missed field goal on the Texans first four possessions. Sherels made Houston pay on the third punt by Shane Lechler, a booming 57-yarder that gave Sherels space.

Sherels fielded the ball at the Minnesota 21 but found a seam in the middle of the coverage team. He made Lechler miss and took it to the end zone for his fifth career punt return for a score. It was Sherels' second runback for a touchdown this season and first in front of the home crowd.

The 79-yarder is the second-longest of Sherels career and put the Vikings up 24-0 with 8:46 left in the first half.

The defense kept its onslaught on opposing quarterbacks going. Minnesota sacked Brock Osweiler four times and frequently pressured him. Osweiler finished 19-of-42 passing for 184 yards with one touchdown and an interception. He was 7-of-20 for 54 yards in the first half.

The Vikings big lead helped minimize opportunities for the Texans running game. Lamar Miller finished with eight carries for 20 yards. Alfred Blue rushed six times for 39 yards late in the game, but Houston netted just 59 rush yards.

The Texans got on the board with a 38-yard field goal by Nick Novak with 5:42 left in the first half. Novak's kick capped a drive that included Houston's first two first downs of the game. Both were awarded after penalties called against Xavier Rhodes. The first was pass interference for 34 yards, and the second was a hold on a fourth-and-4.

Novak added a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter.

Bradford finished the day 22-of-30 passing for 271 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He capped the Vikings scoring with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Cordarrelle Patterson with 14:09 left in the fourth quarter.

The Vikings defense kept the Texans out of the end zone for the first 56-plus minutes before Osweiler connected with DeAndre Hopkins on a 1-yard touchdown. Hopkins was limited to five catches for 56 yards, and the Vikings corralled Will Fuller V to one catch for four yards.

Minnesota netted 351 yards of offense, compared to 214 by Houston, and kept the ball for 37:28.

The Vikings improved to 4-0 all-time against the Texans.

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