Vikings vs. Patriots scores, takeaways: Justin Jefferson shines on Thanksgiving as Minnesota improves to 9-2

The Vikings moved to 9-2 on the season after beating the Patriots in the final game of the NFL’s Thanksgiving triple-header, 33-26.

After being held to field goals in Week 11, both of these offenses wasted no time getting into the end zone to begin this game. Minnesota needed just eight plays to travel 80 yards to score a touchdown on the opening drive of the night. New England then matched that score with one of its own when Mac Jones connected with Nelson Agholor for a 34-yard touchdown. From there, these offenses continued to match each other throughout the first half and found themselves tied at 16 at halftime.

New England opened the final half with a 75-yard touchdown drive to go up by seven. It didn’t take long for Minnesota to bring the game back to even when Kene Nwangwu ran back a 97-yard kickoff for a touchdown.

It was 26-all at the start of the fourth quarter, and that’s when the Vikings started to pull away. A penalty on New England for running into the kicker gave Minnesota new life on a third-and-4 punt, and they cashed in. Two plays after the penalty, Cousins ​​completed a 36-yard pass to Justin Jefferson and then a 15-yard touchdown to Adam Thielen to take and hold the lead.

Kirk Cousins ​​finished 30-of-37 for 299 yards with three TDs and an interception. Justin Jefferson was his target, and the star wideout had 9 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown, breaks a record held by Randy Moss in the process. Meanwhile, Mac Jones was 28-of-39 for a season-high 382 yards with a pair of TDs and no interceptions.

For a more detailed breakdown of this game, check out our takeaways below.

Why the Vikings won

While there has been a narrative surrounding Kirk Cousins ​​in primetime games, the Vikings quarterback was mostly good on Thursday. He had one bad interception, but other than that he was great for Minnesota. He was able to match the scoring output the Patriots provided and was able to spread the ball around to seven different pass catchers. That said, Justin Jefferson was his target, and the star wideout continues to carry the offense. Beyond just racking up stats, Jefferson made a number of clutch catches, including the 36-yard reception that helped set up Thielen’s go ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

While the defense allowed a number of plays through the air, you also have to give them credit for holding the Patriots offense down to close out the game. After Minnesota took a 33-26 lead, the defense forced a three-and-out, a turnover on downs on the ensuing possession and then kept them out of the end zone as the clock ticked down to the end of regulation.

Why the Patriots lost

New England’s struggles in the red zone continued Thursday. Coming into this game, the Patriots ranked 31st in red zone touchdown rate and went on to go 0-3 in the red zone against the Vikings. The offense really relied on chunk plays from Mac Jones, which he was able to deliver on as both of his passing scores were from 30 plus yards. When they knocked on the door to the end zone, however, they couldn’t knock it through. In fact, the Patriots had two drives where they got the ball to at least the Vikings’ 6-yard line and were unable to score touchdowns on either of them. Yes, there was a debatable Hunter Henry touchdown that was ultimately called back, but the Patriots had multiple plays inside the 10-yard line and couldn’t find a way to push through.

Of course, you can’t talk about this loss without bringing up the special teams unit. This was a remarkably poor showing by that unit, and their lack of play directly resulted in 14 points for the Vikings. After taking the lead to begin the second half with a 75-yard touchdown drive, the Patriots’ special teams unit immediately allowed Minnesota to tie the game again, allowing a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, they also committed a run into the kicker penalty that would allow the Vikings to score the game-winning touchdown.

Turning point

This was a back and forth battle throughout the night as these clubs caught up to each other to tie the game at various points. In the early stages of the fourth quarter, the score was tied at 26 and it looked like New England would force a three-and-out and get the ball back with an opportunity to take the lead. However, rookie Pierre Strong ran into punter Ryan Wright as he tried to kick the ball away, drawing a flag. The five yards were enough to give the Vikings a first down and keep the drive alive. Three plays later, Kirk Cousins ​​hit Adam Thielen for what turned out to be the go-ahead touchdown.

Play the game

Let’s give some props to Kene Nwangwu for taking this kickoff 97-yards to the house. After New England scored on a 37-yard Hunter Henry touchdown to end the second half, it felt like the momentum shifted in the Patriots’ direction. Once Nwangwu ran this back, any positive juice the Patriots got was quickly deflated.

This was the third kickoff return for a touchdown of Nwangwu’s career.

What’s next

From here, the Patriots will head back to Foxborough and prepare for another game Thursday night as they host the Buffalo Bills for their first meeting of the season. As for the Vikings, they will hang around US Bank Stadium and prepare for the New York Jets.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *