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Vikings retain Patriots, take lead in NFC North


MINNEAPOLIS — In a game full of highlights, the Minnesota Vikings held off the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving night for a 33-26 victory.

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

The Vikings go 9-2 this season, while the Patriots slip to 6-5.


Vikings retain Patriots, take lead in NFC North

Minnesota Vikings

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

Their victory over the Patriots made it much easier for them to endure a 37-point loss they suffered four days earlier against the Dallas Cowboys, a loss that had called into question their ability to be considered one of the top NFL teams.

By defeating the Patriots, the Vikings recorded their second victory against a team with a winning record in their last three games. If someone told you the Vikings would beat the Patriots and Buffalo Bills in three weeks, what would you say to them? A reasonable argument could be made that, yes, they are among the top five teams in the NFL.

Equally important, a Cowboys game that receiver Justin Jefferson called “embarrassing” and an “all-around disaster” may be better seen as an aberration rather than a thorough look at 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 an NFC North title and remain in contention for the NFC’s top seed.

Describe the game in two words: Very close. The Vikings took the lead three times in that game, lost it twice and tied with the Patriots five times overall. Games like this rarely happen in the NFL. According to ESPN Stats & Information, it was only the second time in seven seasons that the score was tied separately on at least five occasions.

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

Pivot play: Returner Kene Nwangwu hauled in a 97-yard kickoff for a touchdown in the third quarter, his first of the season after returning two goals as a rookie last season. The return responded to a Patriots touchdown on the previous play and tied the game at 23, a major emotional swing that helped the Vikings avoid a potential avalanche. The Patriots were one of the few teams to challenge Nwangwu this season. He entered the game with 19 returns all season as most teams kicked deep for touchdowns, but he had five against the Patriots alone.

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


Vikings retain Patriots, take lead in NFC North

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots’ red zone struggles came back to haunt them Thursday night against the Minnesota Vikings.

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

Ball game.

Of course, there’s more to it, but until the Patriots find answers to turn those situations into points, it threatens their hopes of pushing to the playoffs. Quarterback Mac Jones had talked about trying to “flip the switch” in the red zone, but that didn’t materialize against the Vikings.

A tight call in the third quarter that was called off on the replay by referee Alex Kemp – when Jones initially appeared to connect with tight end Hunter Henry for a touchdown – was a notable aspect of the area’s lack of production. team red.

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

Describe the game in two words: Playoff caliber. A great environment at US Bank Stadium and two teams that faced each other.

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

Promising trend: The shorthanded offensive line – with left tackle Trent Brown, left guard Cole Strange, center James Ferentz, right guard Mike Onwenu and right tackle Yodny Cadjus – provided Jones with the best pass protection he has ever seen. had all season. As a result, Jones looked like a different quarterback.

Under-the-radar stat that matters: The Patriots gave up five first downs via penalties, tied for their most in a game in the last three seasons. That’s their high since Week 11 of 2019 in Philadelphia (also five).

Next game: vs. Bills (8:15 p.m. ET, Thursday)

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