A few thoughts on Sunday's events at Reliant Stadium:
What it means: The Minnesota Vikings were the better team at Reliant Stadium for 60 minutes and departed with an unexpected victory that keeps their playoff hopes alive. We'll update their situation on the blog as other games conclude during the day, but be advised that they cannot clinch a playoff spot Sunday no matter what happens.
PetersonWatch: Perhaps the most unexpected part of the Vikings' victory is that it happened with Adrian Peterson's least productive game since Week 6. The Texans held Peterson to 86 yards on 25 carries, leaving him with 1,898 yards on the season. He'll need 208 yards next week against the Green Bay Packers to break Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105 yards.
PonderWatch: The Texans' attention on Peterson compelled the Vikings to call for 38 drop backs from quarterback Christian Ponder, who turned in a winning performance. Ponder scrambled seven times for 48 yards, including a key 29-yard dash to convert a third down in the fourth quarter, and he completed 16 of 30 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown. Ponder committed one turnover, a fumble in the third quarter, but the Texans could not capitalize. All told, I think the Vikings would have settled for similar performances from Ponder in every game this season.
Defensive gem: The Vikings' defense won this game for them, holding the Texans to 11 first downs and 187 total yards. Houston managed to convert just 1 of 11 third downs, and its rushing duo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate totaled 32 yards on 14 carries. There were huge plays all around, from safety Harrison Smith breaking up a third-down pass to cornerback Antoine Winfield notching a sack to defensive tackle Fred Evans dragging down quarterback Matt Schaub on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Even without defensive end Brian Robison (shoulder), the Vikings kept Schaub off balance all game.
WalshWatch: You can't miss scoring opportunities when playing a good team on the road, and the Vikings capitalized on all of theirs. Rookie place-kicker Blair Walsh converted from 56, tying a team record, and also from 41 and 39 yards. Walsh now owns the NFL record for most field goals of at least 50 yards in a season. He is currently 9-for-9 in that category.
What's next: The Vikings' biggest game against the Packers in several years looms Sunday at the Metrodome.