MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Josh Freeman threw two touchdown passes and Doug Martin ran for 106 yards to help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take a 20-10 halftime lead over the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night
After taking a big lead early against the Saints on Sunday, the Bucs came out strong against Minnesota and its sputtering offense.
Christian Ponder hit Jerome Simpson late in the first quarter, but the wide receiver fumbled and Tampa Bay receovered at its own 46.
Tampa Bay drove into position for Connor Barth's second field goal, a 40-yarder that made it 13-0.
Minnesota's offense finally came to life thanks to Percy Harvin.
A couple of plays after picking up 32 yards on a screen, Harvin caught an 18-yard touchdown pass that cut it to 13-7.
After a Bucs' three-and-out, Harvin picked up another first down before Adrian Peterson fumbled and the Bucs recovered at Minnesota 37.
Freeman connected with Mike Williams deep in the end zone on third-and-goal from the 3 to make it 20-7.
Martin sliced through Minnesota's defense the entire half, including a 41-yard gain on a delayed draw that set up Barth's 28-yard field goal that made it 3-0.
Facing third-and-10 near midfield on Tampa Bay's next drive, Freeman stood in the pocket and hit Vincent Jackson in traffic for a 26-yard gain that put Tampa Bay at the 22. After the Bucs advanced to the 1, Freeman faked a handoff and connected with Erik Lorig to make it 10-0.
The drive almost never happened because Roscoe Parrish muffed Chris Kluwe's punt, but was able to recover it on his own in the pileup.
Peterson was having another strong game before fumbling.
A week after gaining 153 yards in a win over Arizona, Peterson had 60 yards at halftime.
Christian Ponder managed just 58 passing yards against Arizona and missed his first four passes as the Vikings went three-and-out on their first three possessions.
With Harvin's help, Ponder found his groove.
Facing third and 12 from his own 30, Ponder lofted a 37 yard pass that Simpson caught down the sideline to set up a 51-yard Blair Walsh field goal that made it 20-10.
With two games apiece against division rivals Chicago and Green Bay plus road trips to Seattle and Houston in the second half of their schedule, the Vikings needed to reach the midpoint of the season with some momentum.
Playing at the dome for the second time in five days was a good way to keep that, particularly given the 5-1 record for home teams in the first six Thursday night games this season.
The Buccaneers won only two of new coach Greg Schiano's first six games, but all four of their losses were by seven points or less. Josh Freeman found Vincent Jackson for 11 completions covering 282 yards combined over the last two games. So despite their built-in disadvantage of being the traveling team, the Bucs weren't an opponent the Vikings could overlook.