Vikings stay unbeaten with easy 31-13 victory over Texans

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings followed their winning formula again to precision and maintained the NFC's only perfect record.

Adam Thielen caught a touchdown pass to cap Minnesota's opening drive and finished with a career-high 127 yards, and the Vikings defense flustered Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans on their way to a 31-13 victory on Sunday.

"When your offense comes out on all cylinders like that, it just juices us up even more and wants us to play harder," defensive end Everson Griffen said. "We've just got to keep doing that."

Marcus Sherels returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown and Cordarelle Patterson scored on another sharp throw by Sam Bradford, who deftly guided the offense to a fifth straight turnover-free game in his fourth start for the Vikings (5-0).

"You play from ahead and give our defense a chance to get after the passer," Bradford said, "I think it's pretty tough on the other team."

Brock Osweiler was overmatched by Minnesota's relentless pass rush and coverage, finishing 19 for 42 for 184 yards, one interception and a late touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins while taking four sacks. The Texans (3-2) were denied on 12 of 13 third downs, unable or unwilling to do much other than dump off short passes. Lamar Miller only had eight carries for 20 yards during a dud of a performance by the Texans that felt a lot like the 27-0 loss at New England two weeks ago.

"It was bad. It was bad," coach Bill O'Brien said. "It starts and ends with me. I've got to do a much better job with this football team."

With leading receiver Stefon Diggs out for the game with a groin injury, Thielen (career-high seven catches), Jarius Wright and Patterson capably stepped up for the Vikings. Whitney Mercilus had 1½ sacks as Houston took advantage of a banged-up offensive line to apply plenty of pressure on Bradford, but with touchdowns on their first two drives the Vikings were in cruise control as they eagerly unleashed their defense again on another out-of-sync quarterback.

"I knew we had a great challenge ahead of us, but I felt confident in what we could do," Osweiler said. "So I'm very disappointed."

Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press

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