The Vikings hold off the Patriots, and take the lead in the NFC North

MINNEAPOLIS – In a game filled with notable plays, the Minnesota Vikings defeated the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving night to claim a 33-26 victory.

Both teams scored early in each half, including a thrilling kickoff for a touchdown by the Vikings in response to a Patriots score to start the second half.

The Vikings are going 9-2 on the season, while the Patriots are down to 6-5.


Minnesota Vikings

After one of the worst home losses in team history, the Vikings did exactly what they wanted to do Thursday night: move on.

Their win over the Patriots made it easier to put up with the 37-point loss they absorbed four days earlier than the Dallas Cowboys, which raised the question of whether they could be considered one of the NFL’s best teams.

By defeating the Patriots, the Vikings recorded their second victory over a team with a winning record in their past three games. If someone told you the Vikings were going to beat the Patriots and Buffalo Bills in a three-week period, what would you say about them? A reasonable argument can be made that, yes, they are among the top five teams in the NFL.

Just as importantly, the Cowboys’ game that Justin Jefferson called “embarrassing” and “an all-around disaster” can be seen as a perversion rather than a deep look into the Vikings’ future.

The Vikings will now have 10 days to prepare for their next game, at home against the New York Jets, as they close in on the NFC North title and remain in contention for the top seed in the NFC.

Describe the game in two words: Too close. The Vikings have led three separate times in this game, lost twice, and overall, tied the Patriots five different times. Games like this rarely happen in the NFL. According to ESPN Stats & Information, this was only the second time in seven seasons when the score was tied separately on at least five different occasions.

QB Breakdown: Kirk Cousins ​​threw a nasty interception in the first quarter, after a throw on his back foot that sailed wide wide of receiver KJ Osborn, but he avoided any other big mistakes during this primetime game. He finished with 30 completions, the most against the Patriots this season, on 37 attempts for 299 yards and two scores. Most importantly, he expertly led the Vikings to their winning touchdown by throwing a perfect 36-yard pass to Jefferson before finding Adam Thielen open for a 15-yard score.

pivot play: Returner Ken Nwango returned the kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, his first of the season after returning twice for a score last season. The return responded to a Patriots touchdown on the previous play and tied the score at 23, an important emotional swing that allowed the Vikings to avoid a potential Avalanche. The Patriots have been one of the few teams to challenge Nwangwu this season. He entered the game with 19 returns all season, as most teams rush deep for rebounding, but he had five against the Patriots alone.

Next match: vs. the Jets (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


New England Patriots

The Patriots’ red zone struggle on offense returned to haunt them Thursday night against the Minnesota Vikings.

They were 0-for-3 inside the 20-yard line against the NFL’s last-ranked red zone defense. Vikings was 3 out of 5.

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Of course, there’s more to just that than that, but until the Patriots find answers to convert those positions into points, it threatens their hopes of advancing the postseason. Quarterback Mack Jones talked about trying to “flip the switch” in the red zone, but it didn’t come off against the Vikings.

A close call in the third quarter that was overturned on a replay by referee Alex Kemp — when Jones initially appeared to connect with tight end Hunter Henry for a touchdown — was a noticeable aspect of the team’s lack of red zone production.

Biggest game plan gap: It’s similar to what happens to most teams that play the Vikings – covering receiver Justin Jefferson. He shredded the Patriots (9 catches, 139 yards, 1 TD) and showed why he’s one of the NFL’s elite.

Describe the game in two words: Playoff caliber. Great atmosphere at US Bank Stadium, two teams facing each other.

QB Breakdown: Jones played his best game of the season – especially when attacking on the field. He was 5 of 5 for 153 yards and two touchdowns on throws going over 15 yards. In his first seven games of the season, he had one total touchdown on throws of over 15 yards.

Promising trend: The short-handed offensive line—with left tackle Trent Brown, left guard Cole Strange, center James Ferentz, right guard Mike Onwino and right tackle Yodney Kagost—provided Jones the best pass protection he had all season. As a result, Jones looked like a different midfielder.

Under-the-radar stats that matter: The Patriots have allowed five first downs on penalties, tied for the most in a game in the past three seasons. It’s the most since Week 11 of 2019 in Philadelphia (also five).

Next match: Against the Bills (8:15 p.m. ET, Thursday)

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