At halftime at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings held a 21-10 lead over the Miami Dolphins in a must-win game for both teams. As they deferred to the second half following the coin toss, the Dolphins got the ball first to start the second half. Dan Bailey’s kickoff went through the end zone for a touchback, and Ryan Tannehill and company took over at their own 25-yard line.
And that was all they needed, as the first play of the quarter saw Tannehill hand the ball to rookie Kalen Ballage, who blasted through the right side of the formation and went 75 yards for a touchdown. Woof. Jason Sanders added the extra point, and just like that it was 21-17 in favor of the Vikings.
The kickoff from Sanders went through the end zone for a touchback, and Kirk Cousins led the Vikings’ offense out to their own 25 for their first possession of the second half. Dalvin Cook was stopped for no gain on the first play of the drive, and a pass intended for Tyler Conklin on second down fell incomplete. Cousins found Kyle Rudolph on third down, but the play was short of the sticks for a three-and-out. Matt Wile came in to punt the ball away, and it went out of bounds at the Miami 25-yard line.
Tannehill connected with tight end Mike Gesicki to start the drive to bring up 2nd-and-2, and Ballage took a Wildcat carry for a Miami first down. Anthony Barr. . .having his best game in weeks. . .then burst into the backfield and took Tannehill down for his second sack of the afternoon for a nine-yard loss, and Danielle Hunter followed it up with a sack of his own to make it 3rd-and-27. A short pass to Danny Amendola brought in Matt Haack to punt it away on fourth down, and Marcus Sherels did Marcus Sherels things, as he broke off a 70-yard return all the way to the Miami 22-yard line!
Dalvin Cook got the drive started with a run for a yard, and then carried the ball again to bring up 3rd-and-6 from the Miami 18. Cousins fired one for Stefon Diggs, but the ball went off his hands for an incompletion. On came Dan Bailey for a 36-yard field goal attempt, and he split the uprights to make the lead one touchdown again at 24-17.
Bailey’s kickoff went through the end zone for a touchback, so the Dolphins took over at their own 25-yard line once again. Kalen Ballage got blown up by Everson Griffen for a loss of three on first down, and Tannehill short-hopped Amendola on second down to bring up 3rd-and-13. Tannehill was pressured into another incompletion on third down for a three-and-out! Haack came in to punt once again, and Sherels brought the ball to the Minnesota 32.
Dalvin Cook got the drive started with a 4-yard reception, and the Dolphins were flagged for lining up offsides to make it a 2nd-and-1. Cousins then executed a quarterback sneak for a first down to the Miami 44. Unfortunately, on the next play Cousins was sacked by Robert Quinn for a loss of nine to squelch the momentum. Cook got ten yards on second down to bring up 3rd-and-9, and Cousins then hit Stefon Diggs for what looked like a first down. Unfortunately, Pat Elflein was called for hands to the face to negate the play and push the Vikings back even more. Cook dropped the attempted pass on third down, and Matt Wile came in to punt it away for Minnesota. Amendola went out of bounds with the return at the Miami 36-yard line.
Ballage picked up two yards on first down, and Tannehill overthrew Kenny Stills by a mile on second down to make it 3rd-and-8. Eric Kendricks then came on the blitz and took down Tannehill for the third sack of the half an another huge loss. Matt Haack punted it away again, and Sherels got the ball to near midfield, but Jayron Kearse was called for holding on the return to put the ball to rest at the Minnesota 27.
Latavius Murray ran for no gain on first down, and Stefon Diggs then took an end-around for nine yards, setting up a 3rd-and-1. Cousins faked a handoff to Cook, and found a wide open Tyler Conklin for a big 34-yard gain to the Dolphins’ 31-yard line! Murray then ran for a gain of five, and Cousins then hit Rudolph for a 12-yard gain and a first down to the Miami 14.
That’s where we are as we move to the final quarter of play, ladies and gentlemen, with the Minnesota Vikings leading the Miami Dolphins by a score of 24-17 and knocking on the door for more. Can the Vikings get a huge win and bolster their playoff hopes?