Rosenfels starts, leads two Vikings scoring drives in win
INDIANAPOLIS -- Minnesota quarterback Sage Rosenfels won this round.
And he finally beat the Colts.
Rosenfels looked sharp Friday night, leading the Vikings to scores on their first two series and a 13-3 victory over Indianapolis. The longtime backup took the early lead in Minnesota's quarterback derby as last year's starter, Tarvaris Jackson, produced just one field goal in two quarters.
"I thought he had a decent rhythm. I thought he knew where he was looking. He got the football up the field, checked it down a little bit, had a good command," coach Brad Childress said. "So he started off this week, and Tarvaris will kick it off next week against Kansas City."
It was a far cry from the way training camp started.
Rosenfels was shaky early and gradually improved. On Friday, he got the start, looked like he knew every nuance of the Vikings offense -- and avoided another forgettable finish against the Colts.
Last October, it was Rosenfels who committed three turnovers in the final five minutes and the Colts rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat Houston.
The signature play from that game -- Rosenfels going airborne, fumbling and Gary Brackett running it back 68 yards for a touchdown -- was replayed on the Colts' two video boards early in the second quarter.
This time, Rosenfels finished 10 of 13 for 91 yards in a little more than a quarter with no big mistakes.
"I can't say he surprised me," Adrian Peterson said. "We've been seeing it in training camp out of him and Tarvaris. Both of these guys were starting quarterbacks for a team, so they both come out and are able to do well."
Jackson wasn't bad, completing seven of 15 passes for 39 yards, but didn't get Minnesota into the end zone. He played nearly twice as long as Rosenfels.
The wrinkle, of course, was that Jackson played primarily with backups and Rosenfels -- acquired from Houston in an offseason trade after starting five games for the Texans last year -- didn't face the Colts' top-line players.
Indy went into typical preseason mode for coach Jim Caldwell's debut, benching five offensive starters and its top five defensive backs. The most notable absentees: Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne, 2007 NFL defensive player of the year Bob Sanders, and tight end Dallas Clark.
Those who played, didn't stick around long.
Three-time MVP Peyton Manning took only six snaps and most of the other offensive starters left with him.
For the Colts, it was downright ugly.
Manning was sacked three times, and the revamped defense looked a lot like last year's version, though the Colts didn't showcase many of their new twists.
Peterson ran four times for 20 yards, Chester Taylor had four carries for 31 yards and a 5-yard touchdown and the Vikings averaged 4.8 yards on 41 carries.
The Vikings even outgained Indy 147-0 in the first quarter. The Colts have lost five straight preseason openers.
"Obviously winning is important to us and we want to win every time we take the field," Caldwell said. "Obviously, we didn't perform well enough to win tonight."
Rosenfels, however, did exactly what he needed to: Kept it simple, played efficiently and converted plays on third and fourth down to keep the drives moving.
He led the Vikings 72 yards on their first series, setting up Taylor's TD run.
Minnesota drove 75 yards on the next series, getting a 35-yard field goal from Ryan Longwell to make it 10-0 early in the second quarter.
"I thought he did a good job taking care of the football, by and large, getting it out, just being efficient, being consistent," Childress said.
One of the few bright spots for Indy was top draft pick Donald Brown. He ran five times for 58 yards, including a 38-yard run that set up Indy's only score -- Shane Andrus' 42-yard field goal midway through the second quarter.
Jackson answered that with a 14-play, 49-yard drive, that set up Longwell's 36-yard field goal with 2 minutes left in the half.
Vikings receiver Bernard Berrian hurt his leg in the first quarter and did not return though Childress said he did not think the injury was serious. ... Minnesota's top draft pick, Percy Harvin, did not play. ... Colts rookie punter Pat McAfee averaged 49.4 yards on seven kicks.
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