Sunday’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Buffalo Bills appeared to be won by each team in regulation at multiple points before the Vikings preserved a 33-30 overtime victory in Week 10. Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson, the eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time First-Team All-Pro, flashed his pedigree in the clutch as the 32-year-old came through for his second end zone interception of Bills quarterback Josh Allen to end the game in overtime after the Vikings kicked a field goal on their opening extra time drive.
It was a historic comeback as Minnesota became the first team to beat Buffalo in Highmark Stadium when trailing by at least 14 points at halftime as the Vikings fell behind 24-10 at the break. The last time the Bills lost a home game with a halftime lead of 14 or more was also in Week 10, but it occurred in the 1968 season at War Memorial Stadium.
Minnesota, improving to 8-1 with a seventh straight victory, won its third game this season when trailing by 10 or more points in the fourth quarter, tied for the third-most such comeback wins in a season in the 21st century, and the Vikings still have eight games left to play. They miraculously overcame double-digit, fourth-quarter deficits on the road for consecutive weeks. They beat the Washington Commanders in Week 9 – winning 20-17 on a game-winning field goal with no time left after trailing 17-7 — and on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. However, unlike Week 9, Minnesota’s rally wasn’t enough to decide the game in regulation.
Trailing 27-10 at the start of the fourth quarter, Minnesota ripped off 20 consecutive points to take a 30-27 lead with 41 seconds remaining in regulation. Vikings running back Dalvin Cook got the rally started with an 81-yard scoring sprint down the left sideline that was the longest carry in his career and the longest rushing touchdown by a Vikings player since Adrian Peterson in Week 15 of the 2012 season (82 yards) against the Rams. A huge play from an expected source, unlike the next Vikings touchdown — a five-yard rush from fullback C.J. Ham — which marked just the second rushing touchdown of his career and first since his rookie year in 2017. What ensued following a seemingly mundane score came back to have major implications on the outcome of this thriller: Vikings kicker Greg Joseph doinked his point after try off the right upright, preventing Minnesota from drawing within three as it then trailed 27-23 with 4:34 left to play.
Minnesota’s defense stiffened to force a Bills punt, giving the Vikings offense the ball back at their own 24 with 3:23, trailing 27-23. That’s when the drama began. After, Bills linebacker Von Miller came through for his first sack of the game to put the Vikings in a fourth-and-18 situation as the two-minute warning hit. However, wide receiver Justin Jefferson had plans to showcase his hypothesis as to why Minnesota won the 2020 trade of Stefon Diggs and a seventh-round pick to the Bills in exchange for four draft picks, one of which became Jefferson 22nd overall in the ensuing NFL Draft. The third-year wideout finished with 10 receptions, a career-high 193 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 10, including the game-extending 32-yard gain on fourth-and-18 that made Odell Beckham Jr.’s one-handed catch against the Dallas Cowboys years ago look like child’s play.
His performance on Sunday broke multiple NFL records as he totaled his 20th career game with 100 or more receiving yards as well as his seventh career game with 150 or more receiving yards. Both are the most such games through a player’s first three seasons in NFL history, and Jefferson has eight more games left to play this season. His 193 receiving yards were the most by any Viking since teammate Adam Thielen’s career-high of 202 yards in Week 16 of the 2016 season in a 38-25 loss at the Green Bay Packers. Jefferson made sure his career day wasn’t going to be in vain as he caught two more passes on the drive to get Minnesota down to the Buffalo one with a minute left. He momentarily had his second receiving touchdown and what appeared to be the game-winner before a replay review ruled he was a yard short.
The Vikings appeared to have come up short in their effort to secure a win after quarterback Kirk Cousins’ sneak on fourth-and-goal was stuffed for no gain and a turnover on downs with 50 seconds left.
The very next play the game turned around for the visitors in purple as Allen, backed up in his own end zone, fumbled an under-center snap on a sneak attempt of his own that linebacker Eric Kendricks recovered for the go-ahead touchdown, 30-27.
The Bills regained possession on their own 32 with 36 seconds left and no timeouts trailing by three, an eerily similar scenario to what Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs faced against these Bills in the AFC divisional round last year. Allen pulled off his best impression of Mahomes’ back-against-the-wall performance, getting kicker Tyler Bass in range for a game-tying, 29-yard field goal with five seconds left in only five plays. However, it was a controversial possession as Bills wide receiver Gabe Davis bobbled what was ruled as a 20-yard completion down the left sideline. Allen displayed some veteran savvy, quickly snapping the ball before any replay review could be initiated by the referees.
Heading into overtime, the Vikings won the coin toss and elected to receive with the potential to win the game on a touchdown, which would have left Allen and the Bills with the same feeling they had at the end of the 2021 playoffs. Jefferson made it appear as if that was the direction Minnesota’s opening possession was going as he secured a 24-yard deep ball to put the Vikings on the Bills’ two. However, the Vikings went backwards from there as Cook was stuffed on his first down run for a loss of five, followed by Cousins absorbing a 10-yard sack on second-and-goal. Minnesota settled for a 33-yard field goal, needing one last stop.
After consecutive Allen scrambles gained a combined 38 yards, the quarterback hit Diggs for two straight seven yard gains, and all of the sudden the Bills were in the red zone at the Vikings 20. The former Viking tied his season-high with 12 catches to go along with 128 receiving yards. Two plays later, the game was over as Peterson intercepted a scrambling Allen in the end zone for a second time.
In the end, it was a sloppy performance for both Cousins (30-of-50 passing for 357 yards, one passing touchdown, two interceptions) and Allen (29-of-43 passing for 330 passing yards, one passing touchdown, two interceptions). The win improves the Vikings to 8-1 overall as their seventh straight victory allows them to keep pace with the 8-0 Philadelphia Eagles, who play Monday night against the Washington Commanders. The Bills fall to 6-3 overall and out of first place in the AFC East after consecutive defeats.
Here are some takeaways from the wild OT win.
Why the Vikings won
The Vikings are the NFL’s never-say-die team of the 2022 season. Three wins when trailing by double digits certifies their mental fortitude under first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell. However, it surely helps having a player who can make just about any catch in any moment, erasing complete failure on downs one through three like Jefferson can. His 32-yard catch on fourth-and-18 was the first of many Minnesota game-saving plays. Although the Vikings defense deserves plenty of credit as well, limiting the NFL’s third-ranked scoring offense to only three points in the fourth quarter and overtime, leaving the space for Jefferson’s heroics.
Minnesota went 6 of 8 in one-possession games a season ago in Mike Zimmer’s final campaign as head coach, losing the most such games in the league. Now, the Vikes are 7-0 when a game is decided by the same margin under O’Connell, tied for the most such wins in the NFL this season with the New York Giants. Those seven one-possession wins through the first nine games are tied for the most by any team through nine games since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger. New coaching staff, new season, new vibes.
Why the Bills lost
One of Josh Allen’s biggest strengths is his ability to pull explosive plays out of thin air with both his arm and his legs. However, that same big-game hunting hurt the Bills in critical spots in their loss. Allen threw his first interception after Cook’s 81-yard score on fourth down when even an incompletion would’ve been beneficial as the Vikings offense would’ve taken the field on their own seven. Peterson returned his first pick for 39 yards, and the Vikings scored another touchdown to draw within four. The last one lost the game. First-year offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and Allen need to sit down to chat about a happy medium between hitting big plays and forcing the football into bad spots. The Bills quarterback now leads the NFL with 10 interceptions, six of which have come in the last three games.
After the Vikings came up short on fourth-and-goal down by four at the end of regulation, it appeared the Bills had the game won. Eric Kendricks’ fumble recovery of Allen’s bobbled snap changed the game, putting the Vikings in the lead for the first time since the opening position when they were ahead 7-0. This play turned the Vikings from surefire losers on Sunday to eventual winners.
Play of the game
The play of the game couldn’t be anything else besides Jefferson’s game-saving, 32-yard catch. Yes, it’s only a Week 10 game, but the degree of difficulty and the have-to-have-it nature of the play make the one-handed, arm wrestle of a catch immediately among some of the best the NFL has ever seen.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Vikings as they return home for a Week 11 showdown against the Dallas Cowboys, one the NFL’s best defenses. The Bills remain at home to host the struggling 3-6 Cleveland Browns in front of Bills Mafia next week.