By: Abby Altman
*NOTE: This article was written prior to the game against the Cowboys
Last Sunday’s noon matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Buffalo Bills will go down as one of the best regular season games that the NFL has ever seen. Kirk Cousins, also known as “The Noon Nightmare”, led the Vikings to yet another show stopping 4th quarter comeback this week, earning yet another 1 score win.
“Frauds” and “Pretenders” are just some words that will not be following the Vikings name anymore.
After a very sloppy 1st half, the Vikings found themselves down by 14 at halftime.
In the 3rd quarter, the Vikings still did not appear to be playing their best football. Minnesota went almost the entire quarter scoring 0 points, and giving up 3. With 1:48 left in the 3rd quarter, Dalvin Cook rushed for an 81 yard touchdown up the side to make it a 10 point game.
Going into the 4th quarter down by 10, Kirk Cousins is arguably the 1st QB you’d want on your team. This season, Cousins has led the team to 5 4th quarter comebacks, and is 7-0 in 1 score games. Last season, the Vikings finished 6-8 in 1 score games.
The 4th quarter was one that will likely not be forgotten for a very long time.
Minnesota’s defense stepped up big time for this 4th quarter comeback.
Patrick Peterson showed up with an interception in the end zone on 4th and 2, running it back to the 35 yard line.
Minnesota’s offense then responded with a long drive capped off with fullback CJ Ham’s first touchdown in 5 years. The touchdown put the Vikings down by 4 with 4:34 left in the game. Kicker Greg Joseph then missed the extra point, putting the Vikings in a position where a field goal would not suffice, and a TD would be necessary to win.
The defense once again stepped up big, with Harrison Smith breaking up a pass to Stefon Diggs on 4th and 15.
On the next drive, Cousins was sacked 2 plays in a row, setting up Minnesota with 4th and 18 with 2:14 on the clock.
At their own 27 yard line, the Vikings were forced to go for it. Cousins sent a pass deep downfield, hitting Justin Jefferson at the Buffalo 40 yard line.
Jefferson took that opportunity to make one of the best catches ever made. Jefferson jumped up in double coverage, grabbing the ball with 1 hand while fighting off Buffalo’s Cam Lewis, who had 2 hands wrapped around the ball. Jefferson managed to bring in the ball, and transfer it to his other hand without losing control.
“One of the more remarkable catches I’ve ever seen,” said Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell, “He’s such a special, special player. I’m really proud of the way Justin has battled all season long against a lot of different looks and a lot of different coverages.”
This catch was the first of multiple miracles for the Vikings.
The Vikings drove downfield, and had the ball at 1st and goal at the 3 yard line. Things then went south for Minnesota.
On 1st down, Cousins was tripped up behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of 5 yards. On 3rd down, Cousins completed a catch to Jefferson, who appeared to break the goal line at first, but was later ruled down at the ½ yard line.
On 4th and 1, Cousins passed to Cook on the side, who was unable to make the catch. However, offsides by the Bills gave the Vikings a repeat 4th down, where they opted for the QB sneak.
Cousins was ruled short of the endzone, and the ball was turned over to Buffalo with 44 seconds left in the game.
The Bills received the ball on the 1 yard line. Unwilling to take the safety and risk a Hail Mary, Buffalo decided to have QB Josh Allen run the ball out of the endzone. Allen, however, fumbled the ball on the snap. This was miracle #2 for Minnesota.
Erik Kendricks recovered the fumble in the endzone, for a Vikings touchdown. Minnesota took a 3 point lead, with 37 seconds left in the game.
Buffalo did not forget that they have one of the best offenses in the league. Allen connected with Gabe Davis downfield to set up a 29 yard field goal with 5 seconds remaining.
The field goal tied the score and sent the game into overtime.
Minnesota won the coin toss, and although they had an impressive drive downfield, they were unable to get the touchdown. The Vikings settled for a 33 yard field goal by Greg Joseph, and put the defense on the field to win the game.
Josh Allen and the Bills offense drove downfield, and got into field goal range easily. Josh Allen threw 2 passes into the endzone from the 25 yard line. The first pass, intended for TE Dawson Knox was broken up by Duke Shelly, who joined the Vikings active roster the day before the game.
The second pass was miracle #3.
Patrick Peterson made his 2nd interception of the game, picking off Josh Allen in the endzone, and securing the win for Minnesota.
Bills QB Josh Allen blamed himself for the loss, after multiple turnovers.
“Losing sucks,” Allen told reporters. “Sucks this way even worse. Horrendous second half. I’ve got to be better. I’ve got to be better … It’s on me. Can’t have that.”
Although coming into this game with a better record than Buffalo, Minnesota was seen as a heavy underdog. The win secured the Vikings as a legit threat in many eyes, and moved Minnesota way up in most rankings.
Clearly, this win wasn’t an easy one for Minnesota, but not just because of the comeback. The refs were not making good calls, and several of them could have cost Minnesota the game.
The most important missed call by the refs came late in the 4th quarter, just before Buffalo made the game tying field goal. On a 20 yard pass to Gabe Davis, the refs failed to call for a review on the completion. The catch then set up the field goal leading to overtime.
The NFL later stated that the catch should have been reviewed, as it was within the final 2 minutes and couldn’t be challenged. The NFL also stated that had it been reviewed, the catch would have been overturned, as Davis did not keep control when he made contact with the ground.
With 5:27 left in overtime, the refs missed another crucial call. With the Vikings in the red zone, Dalvin Cook rushed up the side, and was tackled for a 3 yard loss. On that play, Buffalo had 12 defensive men on the field. This should have resulted in 1st and 1 for Minnesota, but was instead 2nd and 5. The Vikings were later forced to make a FG.
While it is unrealistic to expect the refs to notice everything, there were several other missed calls that impacted the game. Minnesota was able to overcome these odds and won the game.
This game extends Minnesota’s win streak to 7, and Buffalo’s losing streak to 2. The Vikings are sitting comfortably atop the NFC North with a significant lead over the 4-6 Packers.
The Bills, however, fall into 3rd place in the AFC East, behind the Dolphins and the Jets. This comes as a surprise to many, as Buffalo was largely the expected winner of the division.
Next week Minnesota heads home to host the Dallas Cowboys while Buffalo stays home to host the Browns.