Vikings return to kind with wild, bizarre win over Patriots, near clinching NFC North title

4 hours earlier than the Vikings’ Thanksgiving evening recreation towards the Patriots, Kevin O’Connell walked into the house locker room at US Financial institution Stadium and was amazed at what number of gamers have been already within the constructing.

The workforce suffered its worst loss 4 days earlier in Minneapolis. Thursday evening’s recreation gave the Vikings an opportunity to shortly snap a 37-point loss towards the Cowboys. In the event that they felt that recreation was out of character, their 33-26 victory over the Patriots — sweating all of it — was a return to kind that has them on the point of an NFC North title.

“It exhibits how excited the blokes have been to come back out right here and present us that power, that pleasure, that camaraderie on this locker room,” large receiver Adam Thielen stated. “I believe that is what helped us win.”

With 9:40 left, the Vikings’ move rush made its largest play of the evening after Kirk Cousins ​​discovered Thielen, stopping the Patriots’ remaining two runs from Danielle Hunter and Khyiris Tonga.

The win improved the Vikings’ file to 9-2, giving them an opportunity to clinch the NFC North at house with a win over the Jets subsequent Sunday and losses to the Packers and Lions.

Cousins, who overcame a first-half interception, accomplished 30 of 37 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns. The move to Thielen got here on a play the Vikings tried to name a number of instances. Cousins ​​was out of the play when the Patriots did not produce the protection they needed.

The quarterback made it to the road of scrimmage earlier than his headset went off. “We bought the look,” he heard O’Connell say [we wanted]The Patriots performed with Devin McCourty as their solely deep security, working again Justin Jefferson on the sphere; Thielen crossed to the alternative sideline and hauled in a landing move within the again left nook of the tip zone behind Jalen Mills.

“I used to be cussed [with that call],” O’Connell stated with a smile. Our complete workforce is prepared – clear pocket. I believe Kirk had three or 4 hits proper there. Even when it is a play move, you continue to have to dam the person above you and block the sides. I believed it was one of many cleanest pockets all evening. We thought we had somebody like that; Kirk made an ideal choice in that second and an unimaginable shot.

After the Patriots gained the opening toss and gave the ball to the Vikings first, it was delayed. For the seventh time in 11 video games this season, the Vikings scored on their opening drive.

After Jefferson known as for speeding tickets Monday to assist ease the stress on Cousins, the Vikings opened with a collection of brief drives, together with a fast 7-yard completion on their third play for Jefferson’s first play. The drive ended with Cousins ​​hitting a move to Jefferson for a landing, placing the Vikings up 7-0.

The Patriots, who did not rating an offensive landing final week, got here again with a fast TD drive arrange by huge performs.

Jacoby Meyers’ diving catch gave New England a 24-yard acquire on its first play, and with the Patriots on the Vikings’ 34, Nelson Agholor ran a route from the spot. Chandon Sullivan turned Aglor into the Vikings’ protection, and Aglor dropped into the seam between Harrison Smith and Cam Bynum and caught Mack Jones’ move for 34 yards.

Two Vikings possessions later, Cousins ​​threw over the center for KJ Osborn, who dived on the ankle of New England quarterback Daniel Ekuale with 3.25 seconds left. Cousins’ move sailed over Osborne’s head, and Jonathan Jones intercepted it to arrange a Patriots discipline purpose.

Cousins ​​stood on a podium after the sport, smiling as he talked in regards to the Vikings’ ninth win of the season. He would not miss it, he stated, casting a essential eye on the throws he missed.

“That is how I’m, man. “I’m going again there and take into consideration all of the performs I need to get higher at. I in all probability drive my household loopy like this, however that is simply how I am wired. I am sort of obsessive about enchancment, so even when issues occur, it is good, my thoughts. Going, ‘How can they be higher?’ “

However Cousins ​​will even assessment hits on Jefferson that matched Patriots double-teams, such because the 37-yarder, the place Jefferson’s over-the-shoulder catch arrange a landing to TJ Hockenson.

The Vikings went up 16-13 late within the first half when Piker Greg Joseph missed his fifth additional level of the season.

Patriots quarterback Mack Jones, who completed with a career-high 382 yards, led the Patriots into field-goal vary with completions of twenty-two, 16, 14 and 13 yards earlier than halftime.

The Patriots continued to throw to begin the second half. Jones, with loads of time to take a seat within the pocket, discovered receivers in house in the midst of the sphere. on a

On second-and-10 on the Vikings 37, he threw to Hunter Henry over the center for the tight finish. Henry Bynum’s diving deal with missed and crashed into the tip zone to make it 23-16 Patriots.

The Vikings’ response got here within the type of considered one of a number of game-changing particular groups.

Kene Nwangwu caught the following kickoff on the Vikings 3, bought a block down the left sideline and crashed into open discipline. The 97-yard punt return, his third profession TD, tied the rating at 23.

Jones adopted Duke Shelley on the Patriots’ subsequent drive, as he did a lot of the evening, hitting Devante Parker 41 yards to place the Patriots in place for an additional landing. However after officers dominated the rating on Henry Jones’ 6-yard catch, a assessment discovered he misplaced the ball as he went down. The Patriots made a discipline purpose to make it 26-23.

“I believed we have been fourth-and-inches, or it was incomplete,” O’Connell stated. “It is a kind of issues that might have gone quite a few methods, however I am very glad it went the best way it did.”

The Vikings tied the rating after Cousins ​​drove in one other discipline purpose. The protection pressured its second three-and-out of the evening (after Harrison Smith was pressured on one of many Vikings’ first performs) and a penalty gave the Vikings new life. drive

Patriots working again Pierre Robust’s helmet hit the foot of Patriots working again Ryan Wright as he chased his second sack of the evening, and the officers ran Robust to the kicker, giving the Vikings a primary down.

Cousins ​​hit Jefferson 36 yards towards double protection two performs later. Then got here the landing within the O’Connell and Cousins ​​play that had been ready all evening.

“Kirk did job of studying it and capturing it,” Thielen stated. “It was very near tipping, however I am glad we bought it completed.”

And the Vikings, as they’ve completed so many instances this season, managed to maintain their season from slipping away.

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