Chase Ford becoming 'household name'

Chase Ford is among the most inconspicuous Vikings in a locker room full of high-pitched chirpers and alpha male receivers.

The unheralded tight end from rural Texas peppers interviews with "Yes sir/no sirs" in a drawl so distinctive one can practically smell the mesquite.

Ford has emerged from the shadows to become a reliable playmaker for the Vikings, who were in the dark after former Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph was lost Week 3 to a sports hernia that required surgery.

He caught his first NFL touchdown pass late in the first half Sunday to ignite the Vikings' stagnant offense in their 29-26 victory over Washington at TCF Bank Stadium.

Ford caught five passes for 66 yards, giving him 11 receptions for 127 yards in Minnesota's two straight wins.

"It means a lot to me," he said. "All I really want to do is win, and me being a contributor to that is even better."

Captain Munnerlyn's interception with 59 seconds remaining in the second quarter set up the Vikings at midfield, trailing 10-0.

Four plays later, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater locked in on Ford, who had several steps on safety Ryan Clark and hauled in the 20-yard strike in the back of the end zone.

"It felt really awesome," he said. "I didn't really think it was going to be that easy, but I'll take it."

His biggest catch came on Minnesota's final scoring drive midway through the fourth quarter. Trailing 26-21, Bridgewater spotted a sliver of turf between Ford and safety Brandon Meriwether down the left sideline and fired a 21-yard bullet.

Ford pulled up to catch the pass in his midsection and deftly kept both feet in bounds to move the Vikings to the Washington 15. Matt Asiata eventually punched in the winning touchdown.

"I was so happy for him to finally see him get in the end zone and score a touchdown," said Rudolph. "The play up the sideline, the big third-down catch (earlier), numerous plays for us to go out and win the football game."

A week ago at Tampa Bay, Ford made a critical 19-yard catch in the final minute to set up Blair Walsh's 38-yard field goal that forced overtime.

"Chase is going to be a household name around here," Bridgewater said. "Chase is a guy who has been making plays for us ever since OTAs. He's a very explosive player."

He debuted with the Vikings in Week 9 last year, memorably carrying Adrian Peterson across the goal line for a touchdown at Dallas.

The undrafted prospect out of Miami and former junior college transfer had bounced around practice squads for the Eagles and Cowboys. He did enough down the stretch last year for Minnesota to retain him for 2014.

However, Ford suffered a broken foot before training camp, an injury that set him back so far he spent the first three weeks on the practice squad before Rudolph's injury created an opportunity.

"I never gave up faith," he said. "I knew God had a plan for me and I just went in there, even when I was in the weight room, just tried to go as hard as I can and when I got the opportunity tried to make the most of it."

Ford, who stands 6 feet 6 and weighs 255 pounds, grew up in tiny Corrigan, Texas, 100 miles northeast of Houston. He once described the town of 1,500 to a Miami Herald reporter as "real country, no big buildings. We've got a Sonic and a couple local Mexican restaurants."

Easy come, easy go.

"The way I come in every game, I want to win every route against the DB that I can, and if Teddy wants to throw to me he can," Ford said. "If not, oh well, as long as we win."

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