Vikings outlast Patriots as Justin Jefferson stars again
It wasn’t pretty – most Thursday games aren’t – but the Minnesota Vikings shook off the 37-point beating by the Cowboys and responded by putting up 33 points on what was the NFL’s No. 1 scoring defense entering Week 12.
The 33-26 victory gets Minnesota to 9-2 this season. Detroit losing to the Bills has the Vikings’ magic number in the NFC North down to two, meaning they could clinch the division as soon as Week 13.
Justin Jefferson was the star of the game with nine catches for 139 yard and a touchdown. He continues his rise into the NFL MVP conversation. He made two stunning catches in double coverage that set up Minnesota touchdowns.
It was his catch in the fourth quarter that gained 36 yards and set the stage for a Kirk Cousins-to-Adam Thielen 15-yard touchdown on the next play, which proved to be the game-winning score.
Jefferson was able to catch Thielen’s touchdown and erase a defensive stop. Minnesota scored in just three plays.
New England’s offense had two offensive touchdowns in each of its previous three games. However, Minnesota’s defense was shredded in the first three quarters and then was shut down in the fourth. The Patriots scored on six out of seven possessions to begin the night, but they punted twice, turned it downs, and ran out of time on the final drive.
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Adam Thielen caught a season-high nine passes for 61 yards and the aforementioned go-ahead touchdown. T.J. Hockenson threw five touchdown passes and caught five 43 yards.
Kirk Cousins, despite an overthrow for an interception in the first half, finished 30-of-37 for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Minnesota’s rushing attack was a waste of time. Dalvin Cook had 42 yards on 23 carries and the Vikings had just 57 yards on the ground as a team.
Minnesota took a 7-0 lead on an opening drive touchdown from Cousins to Jefferson and the game was tied 16-16 at the half before New England went 75 yards on their opening drive of the third quarter, with Mac Jones finding Hunter Henry for a 37-yard touchdown and a 23-16 lead.
It was all Vikings from there, outscoring the Patriots 17-3 over the final 25 minutes, 54 seconds.
Next: Vikings vs. Jets, Sunday, Dec. 4 at 12 p.m.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.