Houston’s defense got a stop and Will Fuller made an acrobatic one-handed catch on fourth down for what was initially ruled a touchdown with about a minute left. But after a review it was determined that the ball hit the ground before Fuller gained control, and Minnesota (1-3) ran out the clock from there.
Alexander Mattison added a rushing touchdown and Kirk Cousins threw for 260 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings.
Houston’s NFL-worst run defense continued to struggle, giving up 162 yards as the Texans dropped to 0-4 for the first time since 2008. The loss at home to a previously winless team after a brutal season-opening schedule will ratchet up pressure on coach Bill O'Brien, whose team won the AFC South the previous two seasons.
Watson threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns and Fuller had 108 yards receiving and a touchdown before he was unable to corral the last ball thrown to him.
Minnesota's Harrison Smith was ejected from the game for a leaping helmet-to-helmet hit on Houston s Jordan Akins late in the first half. Akins suffered a concussion on the play but held onto the ball for a 26-yard reception. He dropped to the ground and put both hands on his head before slowly getting up and walking off the field.
Adam Thielen had eight receptions for 114 yards and a TD for the Vikings, and rookie Justin Jefferson had four catches for 103 yards, his second straight 100-yard receiving game.
After struggling to move the ball in the first half, the Texans opened the third quarter with a 73-yard drive capped by a 24-yard TD reception by Fuller that cut the lead to 17-13.
The Vikings missed a 55-yard field goal attempt on their next possession before Watson and Fuller hooked up again. Fuller made a 43-yard reception to get the Texans to the 8-yard line, but Houston settled for a 25-yard field goal to get within 17-16.
Thielen's 9-yard catch with 41 seconds left in the third quarter made it 24-16. Jefferson had a 23-yard reception and Kyle Rudolph grabbed one for 19 yards to power that drive.
A 15-yard run by Cook gave the Vikings a first down at the 4, but he was shaken up on the play and went to the sideline. Mattison ran untouched for a 4-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 31-16 with 10:50 to go.
Cook’s first touchdown on a 5-yard run gave the Vikings a 7-0 lead with 5:05 left in the first quarter.
DeAndre Carter fumbled a punt return later in the quarter and it was recovered by the Vikings. Minnesota added a 31-yard field goal on the ensuing drive to make it 10-0.
The Texans cut the lead to a touchdown on a 50-yard field goal midway through the second quarter.
Cook shed three defenders before stiff-arming Vernon Hargreaves just before he crossed the goal line on a 7-yard run that extended the lead to 17-3 with 1:53 left before halftime.
Following the hit on Akins by Smith, Houston had a first down at the 10-yard line but settled for a 28-yard field goal as many in the crowd of 12,102 booed loudly.
The Texans welcomed fans on Sunday in a limited capacity after not allowing any at their home opener two weeks ago.
The Vikings visit Seattle next Sunday night.
The Texans host the Jaguars next Sunday.
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