The Minnesota Vikings won a thrilling game with many highlight plays and defeated the New England Patriots 33 to 26 on Thanksgiving night.
Both teams scored in the first half. The Vikings also scored a thrilling kickoff return touchdown in the second half in response to a Patriots goal. The Vikings improve to 9-2 in the season while the Patriots fall to 6-5.
The Vikings, fresh off one of their worst home losses, did exactly what they wanted: Get over it.
It was much easier for them to swallow the 37-point loss that they suffered four days prior from the Dallas Cowboys. This loss had raised questions about whether they were worthy of being considered one the top NFL teams.
The Vikings beat the Patriots to record their second win against a team that had a winning record in its previous three games. What would you think if someone said that the Vikings would defeat the Patriots and the Buffalo Bills within a span of three weeks? One argument that they are among the best five teams in the NFL could be made is that they are.
It is equally important to consider that a Cowboys win that Justin Jefferson described as “embarrassing”, and “a disaster all round” can be better understood as an aberration than a deep dive into the Vikings future.
The Vikings have now 10 days to prepare for their next match at home against the New York Jets. They are closing in on the NFC North title and still in contention for the NFC top seed.
Two words to describe the game: Very close. In this game, the Vikings led three times, lost it twice, and were tied with the Patriots five times. These kinds of games are rare in the NFL. ESPN Stats & Information reports that this was the second tie in seven seasons. The score was tied at least five times.
QB breakdown: Kirk Cousins made a poor interception in the first quarter. He threw off his back foot and it sailed past receiver K.J. Osborn made no other mistakes in this prime-time match. On 37 attempts for 299 yards, he completed 30 of his completions. He also scored two touchdowns. He drove the Vikings to victory with a flawless 36-yard pass to Jefferson. Before he found Adam Thielen open for an easy 15-yard touchdown, however, it was his best performance.
Pivotal Play: Returner Kene Nawangwu returned a kickoff of 97 yards for a touchdown, his first of the season. He had previously returned two kickoffs for scores last season. This return was the answer to a Patriots touchdown and tied the score at 23. It was an important emotional swing that allowed Vikings to avoid an avalanche. Nwangwu was only one team that the Patriots had to face this season. Nwangwu entered the game with 19 return totals throughout the season. While most teams were kicking hard for touchbacks, he only had five against the Patriots.
Thursday night, the Patriots’ offensive struggles in red zone came back to haunt them against the Minnesota Vikings.
They were 0-3 from the 20 yard line against the NFL’s last-ranked red-zone defense. Three of five Vikings were on the field.
There’s more to the story than that. But, the Patriots must find ways to turn these situations into points if they are to be successful in the playoffs. Quarterback Mac Jones had discussed the possibility of trying to “flip the switch” in red zone. However, this didn’t happen against the Vikings.
The team’s low red zone production was highlighted by a close call in the third quarter. Referee Alex Kemp overturned the decision on replay. Jones initially appeared to touch tight end Hunter Henry for touchdown.
The biggest hole in the game plan is This is similar to what happens when teams play the Vikings — Justin Jefferson as the covering receiver. He dominated the Patriots (9 catches for 139 yards and 1 TD) and proved why he is one of the best NFL pass-catchers.
Two words to describe the game: Playoff calibre. It was a great atmosphere at U.S. Bank Stadium, with two teams who went toe-to–toe.
Quarterback Jones had his best game of this season, especially when he was attacking down the field. He was 5/5 for 153 yards with two touchdowns when he threw throws travelling 15-plus yards. He had one touchdown in his seven first games of the season on throws traveling 15-plus yards.
Promising trend. Jones had the best pass protection all season thanks to his short-handed offensive line, which included left tackle Trent Brown, Cole Strange, left guard, and center James Ferentz. As a result, Jones looked like a different quarterback.
Further important stat: The Patriots gave up five penalties for first downs, which tied them for the most in a single game over the past three seasons. This is their highest since Week 11 at Philadelphia in 2019.