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Vikings clinch NFC North with biggest comeback in NFL history

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Move over, Frank Reich. Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings are the new owners of the largest comeback in NFL history, turning a 33-0 halftime deficit into a 39-36 overtime win over the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium on Saturday. 

After scoring 36 points in the second half, the Vikings won on Greg Joseph’s 40-yard field with three seconds left in overtime. 

The previous biggest comeback in NFL history was Buffalo’s 32-point comeback in in the playoffs against eh Houston Oilers on Jan. 3, 1993. The previous largest regular season comeback in NFL history was 28 points by the San Francisco 49ers against the New Orleans Saints in 1980. 

In the casket and being lowered into their grave, the Vikings rose from the dead and scored 36 points in the second half, capped on a screen pass that Dalvin Cook took 64 yards for the game-equaling touchdown with 2:15 left in the fourth quarter. 

In overtime, the Vikings won the coin toss and took the ball. They moved into Colts territory before a holding call on Ezra Cleveland made it 3rd-and-24 at their own 42 when Cousins threw short to Hockenson to the Indy 39. Instead of trying a 56-yard field goal with Greg Joseph, who is 1-of-5 on kicks from 50+ this season, they punted and pinned the Colts at the 13. 

Indy took over with 4:50 on the clock and the Vikings forced a punt with 1:49 to play. 

From their own 18 with 1:41 to go and one timeout left, the Vikings did this: 

6-yard run by Dalvin Cook15-yard pass to K.J. Osborn to the 3921-yard pass to Adam Thielen to the Indy 40Incomplete with 19 seconds left but Darrisaw injury cost them their last timeout13-yard pass to Justin Jefferson to the 27, setting up the winning field goalFinal game stats:

Kirk Cousins: 34-54, 460 yards, 4 TD, 2 INTDalvin Cook: 17 carries for 95 yards, 4 catches for 95 yards and 1 TDJustin Jefferson: 12 catches for 123 yards and 1 TDK.J. Osborn: 10 catches for 157 yards and 1 TDAdam Thielen: 3 catches for 41 yards and 1 TDEric Kendricks: 12 tackles, including 4 tackles for lossDefense: 341 yards allowed snaps streak of 5 straight games allowing 400+ How the comeback unfoldedThe second half actually started with an ugly three-and-out by the Vikings. But after a defensive stop got the ball back to the offense with 11:23 left in the third, Cousins and company started to cook. 

Cousins hit K.J. Osborn for a 2-yard touchdown to cap a seven-play, 88-yard drive to make it 33-7 with 8:52 left in the third quarter. Then with 1:13 to go in the third, C.J. Ham forced his way over the goal line to make it 36-14. 

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A 61-yard drive finished with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Justin Jefferson made it 36-21 with 12:53 left in the fourth quarter. 

And then after Cousins was intercepted, the Vikings defense forced a quick three-and-out to get the ball at midfield and the offense scored six plays later – Cousins to Adam Thielen for a 1-yard touchdown – and all of a sudden it was 36-28 with 5:30 to play. 

Then one of the biggest moments of the day happened with 3:23 to go when Deon Jackson fumbled and Chandon Sullivan scooped it up and brought it back for what appeared to be a touchdown. But the refs called the runner down – a non-reviewable play – even though it was a clear fumble. Add on a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Sullivan and the Vikings got the ball but were starting the drive at their own 45. 

Cousins missed on his next three throws and then Christian Darrisaw was flagged for a false start, putting the Vikings in a 4th-and-15 situation at the Indy 45. The Vikings went for it and Cousins tried to scramble but was brought down after a 1-yard gain and a turnover on downs. 

The Colts moved to the Minnesota 36-yard line and on 4th-and-1 with 2:32 to go – and the Vikings out of timeouts – Matt Ryan’s QB sneak was stuffed and the Vikings go the ball back with 2 minutes, 19 seconds to play, still trailing 36-28. 

The next play was magical: a screen pass to Cook that he took 64 yards to the house for a touchdown. And Minnesota tied the game 36-26 with a pass from Cousins to T.J. Hockenson on the two-point conversion. 

How the Vikings fell behind 33-0The Colts lit up the Vikings with 17 points in the first quarter, highlighted by a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Jo Jo Doman and a Dalvin Cook fumble that set up a short field and an easy touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Deon Jackson. 

Down 23-0, the Vikings appeared to gain momentum when Michael Pittman fumbled and Sullivan picked up the loose ball and returned it for a touchdown. But like the latter play in the game, this too was ruled dead by forward progress. The non-reviewable play killed the defensive touchdown and led to a Colts punt that pinned the Vikings at their own 5-yard line. 

And yes, if you’re keeping score at home, Sullivan had two defensive touchdown killed by the officials ruling plays dead in questionable fashion. 

Three plays later – including a play where Jefferson suffered a chest injury that he returned from – Cousins threw an interception that Julian Blackmon returned for a touchdown and a 30-0 Colts lead. 

If that Pittman fumbled wasn’t ruled dead, the Vikings would’ve had seven more points and the Cousins pick-six may not have ever happened. 

The Vikings also failed on a 4th-and-1 from their own 31-yard line that led to a Colts field goal and a fake punt that saw Ryan Wright throw incomplete to Jalen Nailor. 

Source : Sports Illustrated

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