In the National Football League, there are very few things that come easily. . .even victories over teams that appear to be in disarray and ready to pack it up for the season.
Despite a very slow and ugly start, the Minnesota Vikings came to life in the second half to eventually put away a pesky Cleveland Browns squad by a score of 33-16 at Twickenham Stadium in London.
The Browns actually got on the board first in this one, as they took advantage of an interception by Case Keenum on Minnesota’s first drive. They only had to go 37 yards to find the end zone, as Isaiah Crowell took a handoff and ripped off a 26-yard touchdown run on the Browns’ second play from scrimmage. Zane Gonzalez missed the extra point, keeping the Cleveland lead at 6-0.
Minnesota got on the board with a 35-yard Kai Forbath field goal later in the first quarter to make it a 6-3 ball game. They finally found the end zone near the end of the second quarter, as Case Keenum found Adam Thielen in the back right corner of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown. It was Thielen’s first touchdown of the season, and Kai Forbath celebrated by missing yet another extra point, leaving the Minnesota lead at 9-6.
With under two minutes to go in the first half, Cleveland marched down the field with little resistance, thanks to a long pass from DeShone Kizer to Ricardo Lewis and a long catch-and-run by Isaiah Crowell. Kizer took the ball over the goal line on a sneak from one yard out, and the Browns took the lead back at 13-9 just before the end of the first half. Minnesota narrowed the gap on the last play of the half, as Forbath connected from 34 yards out to make the score 13-12 going into the locker room.
After Crowell fumbled on the Browns’ first play from scrimmage of the second half, the recovery by Anthony Harris gave the Vikings very good field position, but they could only get another Forbath field goal, and he connected from 43 to give the Vikings the lead back at 15-13. Gonzalez, who had missed from 35 earlier in the third quarter, then connected from 25 to give the Browns the lead back at 16-15.
The Vikings found the end zone again near the end of the third quarter, as Jerick McKinnon went over on a 1-yard touchdown run. The play was set up by the Browns being called for a pass interference penalty in the end zone, putting the ball at the 1-yard line for a first-and-goal. The Vikings then elected to go for two, and McKinnon got it done again, giving the Vikings a seven-point lead at 23-16.
Minnesota extended their lead midway through the fourth quarter, as Case Keenum found Kyle Rudolph in the back of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown. The drive featured numerous Cleveland penalties, including a roughing the passer penalty on linebacker Jamie Collins. Kai Forbath connected on the extra point, and the Vikings had opened up a two-score lead at 30-16 with a little over ten minutes remaining. Forbath iced this one for the Vikings, connecting on a 51-yard field goal with just over a minute remaining to provide the final margin.
The Vikings’ stat sheet wound up looking fairly solid after a rough first half. Case Keenum wound up completing 27-of-43 passes for 288 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. Like the rest of the team, he was fairly ugly in the first half, but played much better after the break.
Adam Thielen led the way for the Vikings on the receiving side, bringing in five catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. Jerick McKinnon had another solid game catching the ball, hauling in six passes for 72 yards. David Morgan got in on the action with three catches for 28 yards, and Stefon Diggs had four grabs for 27 yards in his first game back from a groin injury. Kyle Rudolph also had 27 yards and a touchdown on six catches. Laquon Treadwell (21 yards), Latavius Murray (eight yards), and Michael Floyd (7 yards) each had one reception.
On the rushing ledger, neither McKinnon nor Murray was particularly effective, but the job got done. McKinnon had 50 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, while Murray gained 39 yards on 19 carries.
It took Everson Griffen a while to extend his streak of consecutive games with a sack, but he eventually got one, taking Kizer down late in the fourth quarter. He now has at least one sack in each of Minnesota’s first eight games.
The Vikings move their record to 6-2 on the season, while the Browns fall to 0-8. Both teams will have next week off for their bye following this week’s contest in London.
It wasn’t the blowout that many were expecting, but the Minnesota Vikings defeat the Cleveland Browns in early Sunday morning action in London by a final score of . Thank you to everybody that got their coverage of this week’s game right here at The Daily Norseman, and enjoy the rest of your NFL Sunday!