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Adam Thielen’s fourth quarter touchdown caps Vikings’ weird and savage 33-26 win over Patriots

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones threw for 382 yards Thursday night, but after a 10-point fourth quarter, the Vikings defense got the two saves needed to close out a game that turned into an unexpected shootout.

Sacks from Danielle Hunter and Khyiris Tonga stopped the Patriots’ final two drives after the Vikings took the lead for good on Kirk Cousins’ third touchdown pass of the game, giving the Vikings a 33- 26 over the Patriots in the first Thanksgiving game they’ve ever hosted.

The win improved the Vikings’ record to 9-2, giving them a chance to clinch the NFC North at home with a win over the Jets next Sunday and losses to the Packers and Lions.

Cousins, who overcame a first-half interception, went 30 of 37 for 299 yards.

The Patriots postponed after winning the opening coin toss, giving the Vikings the ball first. And for the seventh time in 11 games this season, the Vikings have scored in their opener.

After wide receiver Justin Jefferson called for faster passes on Monday to help ease the pressure on Cousins, the Vikings started with a series of short throws, including a quick 7-yard completion on their third play for the Jefferson’s first take of the game. A face mask penalty on Jonathan Jones late in the game put the Vikings in Patriots territory, and two plays later Cousins ​​threw a quick pass back to Jefferson, who shot Adam Thielen for a gain of 11 yards.

The Cousins ​​hit Jefferson on a crossover route for a touchdown, giving the Vikings a 7-0 lead. The Patriots, who didn’t score an offensive touchdown last week, came back with a quick drive designed by big plays.

Jakobi Meyers’ diving catch gave New England a 24-yard gain on its first play, and with the Patriots on the Vikings’ 34, Nelson Agholor ran a teeing route from the slot. Chandon Sullivan passed Agholor to Vikings safeties, and Agholor headed down into a seam between Harrison Smith and Cam Bynum, catching Mac Jones’ pass for a 34-yard touchdown.

Two Vikings possessions later, Cousins ​​threw the middle for KJ Osborn with Patriots tackle Daniel Ekuale diving to the quarterback’s ankles 3.25 seconds after the snap. Cousins’ pass sailed over Osborn’s head and Jones intercepted it to set up a Patriots field goal.

Patriots defensive end Matthew Judon, the NFL’s sack leader, imposed a holding penalty on Ed Ingram with a well-timed jump from Cousins’ snap, forcing the Vikings to settle for a field goal to tie the game. game at 10.

With New England leading 13-10 late in the first half, Judon again tried to time Cousins’ shot on a third-and-12 but was flagged for encroachment. At third and seventh, Cousins ​​fired downfield for Jefferson, who landed a nice over the shoulder catch for a 37-yard gain.

The Cousins ​​would connect with Jefferson for 17 yards two plays later, and find TJ Hockenson for 10 yards on a tight screen. As the Vikings faced the Patriots’ third baseman 1, Cousins ​​found Hockenson offside for a touchdown that put the Vikings ahead 16-13. Greg Joseph, however, missed his fifth extra point of the season, meaning the Vikings’ lead remained at one field goal.

New England moved into field goal range on Jones’ 22, 16, 14 and 13 yard completions. Duke Shelley, who had been targeted on two of the completions, offered a pass breakup on an end zone fade, forcing the Patriots to settle for a field goal after officials decided not to call for physical coverage by Shelley on Kendrick Bourne. The Patriots tied the game before halftime.

The Patriots kept pitching to start the second half; Jones, with plenty of time to sit in the pocket, found receivers in space in midfield. On a Vikings second-and-10 of 37, he threw over the middle for offside action from tight end Hunter Henry; Henry evaded Bynum’s diving tackle attempt and burst into the end zone to make the Patriots 23-16.

Kene Nwangwu caught the ensuing kickoff at the Vikings 3, picked up a block on the left sideline and burst into the open air. His 97-yard return, the third TD kick return of his career, tied the game at 23.

Jones chased Shelley again on the Patriots’ next practice, hitting DeVante Parker for 41 yards to put the Patriots in position for another touchdown. But after officials ruled Henry had scored from a 6-yard pass from Jones, a review revealed he had lost the ball as it went to ground. The Patriots settled for a field goal that went 26-23.

But the Vikings tied the game after Cousins ​​led another drive for a field goal, the defense only forced their second three-and-one of the night (after pressure from Harrison Smith on one of the early blitzes of the game) and a penalty breathed new life into the Vikings on what turned out to be a go-ahead.

A play after officials flagged Jefferson for a false start — though the Vikings claimed their offense was induced by a Patriots passer — Minnesota lined up for a punt. Patriots running back Pierre Strong’s helmet hit Ryan Wright’s foot as he followed, and officials called Strong for hitting the kicker, giving the Vikings a first down.

Cousins ​​hit Jefferson for 36 yards against double coverage two plays later, and Cousins ​​stepped in the pocket to find Thielen in the back corner of the end zone for a 15-yard score and the lead.

startribune Gt Itly

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