Nursing a 10-7 halftime lead over the New York Jets, the Minnesota Vikings started the second half by kicking the ball away. Dan Bailey put his foot to the pigskin, and it went into the end zone for a touchback, giving Sam Darnold and company the start at their own 25-yard line.
The Jets started off with a 10-yard run from Isaiah Crowell to get an early first down, but a couple of incompletions from Darnold brought the Jets’ drive to an end. Lachlan Edwards came on to punt the ball away again, and the ball was actually fielded by Brandon Zylstra on a short kick, as he advanced the ball to the Vikings’ 37-yard line.
Kirk Cousins got the Vikings a first down early with a pass to Stefon Diggs, but they balanced that out with a holding penalty on Mike Remmers. The Vikings got a pass to Adam Thielen to move it to a 3rd-and-8 from midfield, and the Vikings then converted their first third down of the afternoon, as Cousins hit Thielen for 12 more. Then, Cousins found Brandon Zylstra, the pride of Concordia College, for a big 23-yard gain to the Jets’ 11-yard line. After an incompletion on first down, Latavius Murray finished the drive with a 11-yard run for a touchdown! Dan Bailey connected on the extra point, and the Vikings’ lead was moved to 10 at 17-7.
Andre Roberts took Bailey’s kickoff and returned it to the 33-yard line to set up the Jets’ next drive. On the first play, Darnold looked deep for Robby Anderson, and the pass was deflected by Xavier Rhodes into the hands of Harrison Smith! Smith took the ball all the way down to the Jets’ 9-yard line to set up first and goal!
.@HarriSmith22 hauls in career INT #19! pic.twitter.com/C7gKugyFS0— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) October 21, 2018
A couple of short plays got the Vikings a 4th-and-goal from the 4-yard line, and rather than go for it, the Vikings called on Dan Bailey once again. He connected from 22, and the Vikings’ lead was extended to 20-7.
Andre Roberts got a huge return of the ensuing kickoff for the Jets, as he got the ball all the way into Minnesota territory at the 46. The Vikings forced the Jets into another third down situation, but Darnold was able to slip away from Sheldon Richardson and get just past the sticks to move the chains. That was the first third down conversion the Vikings had allowed since Week 5 against the Eagles. The Jets could not advance further, as a couple of dropped passes stalled their drive. The Jets called on Jason Myers for a 55-yard field goal attempt, and with the wind at his back he split the uprights to make it 20-10.
Myers’ kickoff went for a touchback, and the Vikings started out at their own 25. After a short pass to Diggs gained nice yardage on first down, the Vikings had a pretty ugly play that saw Cousins throw a backwards pass that nobody realized was live at first and resulted in a big loss. After Cousins’ pass on third down fell incomplete, they called on Matt Wile to punt it away, and he did an outstanding job. Andre Roberts let the ball go over his head, and it rolled to a stop at the Jets’ 8-yard line for a 66-yard punt to pin the Jets deep.
Crowell had a nice run on first down to start the Jets’ drive, but then a swarm of Vikings descended upon Darnold on second down for a sack. Credit for the sack went to Jayron Kearse, and as we move to the fourth quarter, the Jets have it with a 3rd-and-11 from their own 7-yard line.
Fifteen minutes to go from East Rutherford, folks, and the Vikings have a 20-10 lead over the Jets. Can they hold on for their third straight win and their first ever road victory over the Jets?