Browns at Vikings -- Sunday, Sept. 22 -- 1 p.m. ET
The Minnesota Vikings are looking to build off of their late-season success in 2012, which they finished 10-6 and in second place in the NFC North Division. After losing the initial game against the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 2, the Vikings won four straight, including two against playoff teams, to earn a postseason berth.
The Vikings needed to win a home game against the Packers, the North champions, in Week 17 to reach the playoffs, and did so, 37-34, behind the 199 rushing yards from running back Adrian Peterson, who’s self-less decision to stop short of the goal line so that more time could run off the clock set up Blair Walsh’s 29-yard field goal as time expired.
The Vikings have won four straight games over the Browns, dating back to a 17-13 victory at the Metrodome on Nov. 22, 1992. The Browns last played the Vikings on opening day of the 2009 season, and fell, 34-20, at home.
In their last game against the Browns, then-quarterback Brett Favre completed only 14 passes for 110 yards and one touchdown, but Peterson rushed for 180 yards and three scores -- including a 64-yarder in the fourth quarter -- on 25 carries.
The Vikings finished 10-6 in 2012, despite trailing their opponents in several statistical categories.
Minnesota gave up more first downs (345), total offensive yards (5,600), passing yards (3,908) and time of possession (31:33) than it gained (306,5,385, 2,751, and 28:44), but did rush for nearly 1,000 more yards, average more yards per play (5.4 to 5.2) and was even with 39 touchdowns scored and allowed. The Vikings were minus-one in turnovers.
Peterson led the Vikings’ offense despite suffering a knee injury in the latter part of the 2011 season. On 348 carries, he rushed for 12 touchdowns and 2,097 yards, finishing nine yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s mark for the NFL’s single-season record.
Peterson also caught the third-most passes, 40, for 217 yards and one score out of the backfield.
Quarterback Christian Ponder threw every pass attempt for the Vikings in 2012, completing 300 of 483 (62.1 percent) for 2,935 yards and 18 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. He was also the team’s second-best rusher, gaining 253 yards and scoring two touchdowns on 60 carries.
When Ponder dropped back to pass, he targeted wide receiver Percy Harvin, who led the team with 62 receptions for 677 yards, and tight end Kyle Rudolph finished the year with a Vikings-best nine touchdown catches.
Defensively, Chad Greenway led the team with 148 total tackles, 98 solo stops and 50 assists, while Harrison Smith (104, 74, and 30) and defensive back Antoine Winfield (101, 72, and 29) also finished the 2012 regular season with more than 100 total tackles.
Smith and Winfield tied for the team lead with three interceptions. Smith returned two of his for touchdowns.
Defensive end Jared Allen led the Vikings’ pass-rush and finished the year with 12 sacks, while Brian Robison and Everson Griffen added 8.5 and 8.0, respectively.
The Vikings proved to be a formidable foe on special teams in 2012, as Harvin returned 16 kickoffs for 574 yards and one touchdown, while Marcus Sherels averaged 26.4 yards on 16 kickoffs and nine yards on 32 punt returns with one touchdown.
Walsh earned Pro Bowl honors after he converted 35 of 38 field-goal attempts, including a perfect 10 of 10 from at least 50 yards.
Key Additions: The Vikings signed wide receiver Greg Jennings (from Green Bay), quarterback Matt Cassel (free agent), and re-signed wide receiver Jerome Simpson, center Joe Berger, linebacker Erin Henderson and fullback Jerome Felton.
Key Losses: Wide receivers Percy Harvin (traded to Seattle) and Michael Jenkins (released), and cornerback Antoine Winfield (released).
Draft: The Vikings invested three of their first four picks in the 2013 NFL Draft on defensive players. After selecting defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd in the first round, the Vikings acquired and used two more first-round picks, on cornerback Xavier Rhodes and on wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Then, they chose outside linebacker Gerald Hodges (fourth round), punter Jeff Locke (fifth) and offensive guard Jeff Baca (sixth) before making three selections in the seventh round: inside linebacker Michael Mauti, offensive guard Travis Bond and defensive tackle Everett Dawkins.
Browns wide receiver
Browns offensive lineman
Vikings cornerback Jacob Lacey was born in Columbus, Ohio.
Browns outside linebackers coach Brian Baker coached the Vikings’ defensive line in 2001, and again from 2004-05, as well as their linebackers from 2002-03.
Cleveland’s assistant strength-and-conditioning coach Chris DiSanto was Minnesota’s strength-and-conditioning intern in 2007.
Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph was born in Cincinnati, and was an All-American at Archbishop Elder High School, where he is the school’s second-leading scorer and only the second Panther ever to score more than 1,000 points. He was also an all-conference basketball player.
Vikings defensive lineman Nathan Williams is a native of Washington Court House, Ohio, and went to Miami Trace High School where he was an All-American and represented the state in the annual Big 33 Game between the best players from Ohio against their counterparts from Pennsylvania. Williams played college football at The Ohio State University.
Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier was the Bengals’ defensive coordinator from 2003 to 2004.
Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer is a Cleveland native, and coached at Youngstown State University (1997-98) where he was a part of the Penguins’ Division I-AA National Championship team in 1997 under Berea native Jim Tressel.
Vikings offensive line coach Jeff Davidson was born in Akron, and went to North High School in the Columbus suburb of Westerville. He earned All-Big Ten Conference recognition and served as a team captain during his senior year at Ohio State.
Minnesota linebackers coach Fred Pagac played college football at Ohio State from 1971-73, and was on a team that went 25-6-2 overall and 19-3 in the Big Ten Conference. He served as a graduate assistant under the late Woody Hayes in 1978, and went on to coach the Buckeyes’ linebackers from 1982-95. Pagac was Ohio State’s defensive coordinator from 1996-99, and assistant head coach in 2000.
Defensive backs coach Joe Woods started his coaching career at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, in 1992, and later, mentored Kent State University’s defensive backs in 1997.
All-time, the Browns are 3-10-0 against the Vikings, and 1-6-0 at Minnesota. Their lone road win was a 23-20 decision on Oct. 26, 1986. The Browns’ last trip to Minnesota resulted in a 24-12 loss on Nov. 27, 2005.
Overall, the Browns are 0-3 in games against the Vikings in September.