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Vikings deny Texans home-field playoff advantage

Vikings deny Texans home-field playoff advantage

HOUSTON (AP) Adrian Peterson had his worst rushing performance in more than two months on Sunday.

And that was just fine with the Minnesota Viking's star running back. He enjoyed watching his teammates pitch in to beat the Houston Texans 23-6.

Peterson rushed for 86 yards, falling far short of the 2,000-yard mark, yet still helped the Vikings (9-6) keep their playoff hopes alive with the upset of the Texans.

Christian Ponder threw a touchdown pass, Toby Gerhart added a score and Blair Walsh kicked three field goals as the Vikings won their third straight.

``We knew they were going to focus on the run, which is OK,'' Peterson said of the Texans. ``It felt good to see other guys get involved and us continue to move the ball down and score some points.''

The win raises the stakes for the Vikings, who host Green Bay next Sunday in the regular-season finale.

``We obviously have a big one next week, and if we don't win that one, this one doesn't mean anything,'' Ponder said. ``Our No. 1 goal is to make the playoffs.''

The loss kept the Texans (12-3) from clinching home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. They could still claim the top spot with a win next week at Indianapolis.

``Very disappointing because we had a chance to line up here and get something done today,'' coach Gary Kubiak said. ``That doesn't mean we still can't get it done. That's the most important thing.''

Peterson had his lowest rushing total since getting 79 yards on Oct. 14 in a loss at Washington, breaking a streak of eight 100-yard games. Peterson, who is from Palestine, Texas, had more than 100 family and friends at the game.

He has 1,898 this season and needs 208 yards to break the NFL single-season rushing record held by Eric Dickerson.

``Of course I care about it,'' Peterson said of the record, ``but I'm not going to let it overwhelm me.''

Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier said he took Peterson out late as a precaution because he has a sore abdomen.

``I'll get some rest and be ready to get a W and break that record,'' Peterson said.

The Vikings took a 10-3 lead when Walsh kicked a 56-yard field goal. The kick gave Walsh, a rookie, the NFL record with nine field goals of 50 yards or longer this season.

The Texans failed to score a touchdown for the first time since 2006.

``We didn't play well,'' Kubiak said. ``I think we battled defensively, but offensively we probably played as bad as we've played. I take full responsibility for that. It's a huge, huge disappointment. We've got to get over it really quick.''

J.J. Watt had a sack to leave him with 20 1/2 and make him the ninth player in NFL history with at least 20 sacks in a single season.

Houston got within 10 points before Gerhart's 3-yard run extended the lead to 23-6 with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter. That drive was helped by a 29-yard run by Ponder.

Ponder, who got married on Monday, was 16 of 30 for 174 yards to help the Vikings pile up 345 yards. He finished with seven rushes for 48 yards - 14 more yards rushing than the Texans had.

``Christian had a terrific day throughout, playing with a lot of poise, a lot of control - he did all the things we needed,'' Frazier said. ``But it was all set up by our run game.''

Arian Foster had 10 rushes for 15 yards before leaving with about nine minutes left in the third quarter with an irregular heartbeat. Kubiak said he is OK, but he was taken out as a precaution.

Ben Tate took over and didn't fare much better with four carries for 17 yards.

The Texans were foiled by their inability to convert third downs, going 1 of 11. Quarterback Matt Schaub went 18 of 32 for 178 yards.

Houston got to the Minnesota 1 with a 12-yard reception by Kevin Walter late in the third quarter. Then came an incomplete pass followed by a run for no gain by Tate. Schaub was sacked by Fred Evans for a loss of 14 yards to make the Texans settle for a 33-yard field to cut the lead to 16-6.

Houston had to punt on its first possession of the third quarter, but got the ball right back when Watt sacked Ponder and forced a fumble. Bradie James recovered, but the Texans had to punt again.

The Vikings extended their lead to 16-3 when Walsh made a 39-yard field goal on the first drive of the second half. That series was helped when Ponder found Jarius Wright on a 15-yard reception, and the Vikings got 15 more yards when Whitney Mercilus was flagged for unnecessary roughness on Ponder.

Houston was on the Minnesota 28 early in the second quarter when Jasper Brinkley forced Foster's fumble, which was recovered by A.J. Jefferson.

A 41-yard field goal by Walsh left Minnesota up 13-3 at halftime.

Peterson ran for 20 yards to get Minnesota's offense going. The Vikings took a 7-3 lead when Kyle Rudolph grabbed a 3-yard touchdown reception. Rudolph also had a 27-yard catch that drive.

Houston's Andre Johnson had seven receptions for 97 yards.

NOTES: The Texans wore decals with the initials S.H.E.S. as a tribute to the school shooting victims at Sandy Hook. ... The Texans will donate $68,800 to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund after team owner Bob McNair matched the $34,400 raised by a silent auction Sunday. ... Playing in his 137th game, Johnson got his 800th career reception on his first catch, making him the second-fastest player to reach the milestone. Marvin Harrison did it in his 131st game. ... Johnson has 100 catches this season, making him the fifth player in NFL history to have at least 100 catches in four or more seasons.

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Rui Hachimura was a star in Vegas, earning All-NBA Summer League Second Team honors

Rui Hachimura was a star in Vegas, earning All-NBA Summer League Second Team honors

Welcome to the Wizards Rui Hachimura.

In his first action as a Washington Wizard, the first-round draft pick brought home some hardware after being named to the All-NBA Summer League Second Team.

Hachimura showed out in a Summer League that was headlined by which stars were not playing on the court. In his final contest against the Atlanta Hawks, Hachimura dominated the court.

Playing a total of three games in Las Vegas, he averaged 19.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. Those stats paired with a 2-1 record in the games he played garnered the Second Team honor. 

He was joined by Chris Boucher (Toronto), Jaxson Hayes (New Orleans), Anfernee Simons (Portland) and Lonie Walker IV (San Antonio) on the Second Team. 

The Gonzaga product is looking to become the best Japanese player to step onto an NBA basketball court and, although it is a small sample size, he showed some major potential in his limited action. 

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Mystics' Kristi Toliver named WNBA All-Star reserve for a second straight year

Mystics' Kristi Toliver named WNBA All-Star reserve for a second straight year

Washington Mystics guard Kristi Toliver is a WNBA All-Star once again. 

Toliver was named an All-Star reserve on Monday as selected by the league's coaches. She joins Elena Delle Donne, who was named a captain of one of the two teams, and head coach Mike Thibault as representatives from the Mystics. 

This selection gives Toliver, 5-7, the third honor of her career and the second with Washington. Last year en route to the franchise's first WNBA Finals appearance Toliver was named an All-Star. She also got the nod in 2013 when she played with the Los Angeles Sparks. 

Through 15 games, Toliver is averaging 12.1 points and is second in the league with 5.7 assists per game, which is also on pace for a career-high.

She is shooting at a career-best .497 clip and is looking as explosive as ever at 32-years-old. With her and Delle Donne, the Mystics are 9-6 and second in the Eastern Conference.

In the offseason, Toliver is also an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards. Often she worked on the player development side of the staff and closely with Bradley Beal. 

Delle Donne will have the first choice of selection in the All-Star game draft. As a reserve, Toliver cannot be selected until after the starters are chosen. 

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