Who knew that a prime-time matchup between Kirk Cousins and Bill Belichick would be such an offensive outburst?
But in a Thanksgiving night classic, Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings rallied late for a 33-26 win over the New England Patriots.
Mac Jones had just 4 1/2 minutes to reach the end zone and keep the game alive, with the Patriots trailing by seven. A long catch-and-run by Rhamondre Stevenson put the Pats on the other side of the field quickly, but a big sack on third down forced a fourth-and-16. Jones was looking for deep Agholor, but he was out of reach. , and the Vikings took care of the casualties.
The Pats were able to force a 3-pointer and get the ball out, but they had to go 89 yards in 53 seconds. Jones, however, was sacked on first down for a loss of eight. It’s safe to say it was too much for New England, and they ran out of time, despite two more completions.
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It only took the Vikings five plays to get into the end zone to start the game, and who else but Justin Jefferson, but the Patriots responded immediately with a 34-yard touchdown run to Nelson Agholor. It was 7-7 less than seven minutes into the game.
The score leveled off somewhat as both teams settled for a few field goals, but two minutes into the second quarter, TJ Hockenson hauled in a touchdown to put Minnesota up 16-13 (Greg Joseph missed the ensuing PAT). But Jones was able to get the Pats on the other side of the field quickly so Nick Folk could tie the game at 16 before the half.
The Pats got the ball at the half and Jones continued his electricity: A quick drive ended with a 37-yard touchdown run to Hunter Henry, and New England led 23-16. However, the Vikings immediately responded with a 97-yard kickoff return for a Kene Nwqngwu touchdown to tie the game.
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And what did Jones do to respond? He marched back across the field. Henry nearly caught his second touchdown of the night, but replay found he didn’t complete the catch, so the Pats settled for three. The Vikings then got inside the Patriots 10-yard line after a long drive, but had to settle for three early in the quarter, tying the game at 26.
After a Patriots punt, the Vikings were ready to punt the ball, but a running-to-kicker penalty kept their drive alive. Naturally, Cousins found Jefferson for a 36-yard gain. On the next play, he hit Old Reliable Adam Thielen in the back of the end zone to make it 33-26 Minnesota with 9:34 to go, a score that turned out to be the game-winner.
Cousins, whose prime-time struggles are well known, was incredible in this one: He passed for 299 yards on 30-of-37 passes, throwing for three touchdowns. Jefferson’s 139 receiving yards were a game-high (he also had nine receptions), and Thielen added nine receptions for 61 yards.
Jefferson also set the NFL record for most receiving yards in a player’s first three seasons, surpassing Randy Moss’s 4,163. Jefferson now has 4,248 in his career spanning just 44 games. Moss put that number at 48 games.
Jones certainly wasn’t far behind in a failed effort, though: He threw for 382 yards through the air, completing 28 of his 39 passes without a fumble. Stevenson caught nine passes for a team-high 78 yards, while DeVante Parker’s 80 receiving yards led the Pats’ receivers.
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The 9-2 Vikings will visit the New York Jets (6-4) in Week 13, while the Pats, now 6-5, will host the 8-3 Buffalo Bills a week from Thursday.