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Minnesota Vikings at New England Patriots: Third quarter discussion

It’s a three-point game at the half at Gillette Stadium.

Minnesota Vikings v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Trailing the New England Patriots 7-0 after the first quarter of play, the Minnesota Vikings started the second quarter facing a 2nd-and-12 from their own 22-yard line. Kirk Cousins connected with C.J. Ham to make it a 3rd-and-6, but Cousins was then flushed out of the pocket by Trey Flowers and threw short of Dalvin Cook to end the drive. Matt Wile came in to punt it away, and the punt was returned by Julian Edelman to the New England 31-yard line for the next possession for Tom Brady and company.

Rex Burkhead carried for a 10-yard gain on first down to move the sticks for the Patriots right away, and Stephen Weatherly then blew Burkhead up in the backfield for a loss of four. A shovel pass from Brady to James White got eight yards, and another run by White, this one an end-around, allowed the Patriots to convert and move into Minnesota territory. The James White Show then continued, as Brady hit him with a short pass that he turned into a 15-yard gain, and the Patriots were down to the Minnesota 29.

Cordarrelle Patterson then took a handoff for a gain of six, and a toss to Burkhead was stopped short of the first down by a yard. Sony Michel then converted on third down, and the Patriots were once again in the red zone. The Vikings then forced another third down situation, and Brady found White once again to make it a first-and-goal for New England. Michel was stopped on first-and-goal, and a pass to Edelman was stopped short as well. Brady tried to find Edelman on third down, but Anthony Harris managed to knock the ball away to bring up fourth-and-goal at the 1. Stephen Gostkowski came on and connected on a 20-yard field goal to increase the New England lead to 10-0 with 5:45 left in the half.

Ameer Abdullah got an opportunity to return Gostkowski’s kickoff, and he got a nice return out to the Minnesota 35. Dalvin Cook got the drive started with a nice gain of 18 yards, and the Vikings were quickly into New England territory at the 48. After a short pass to Cook, a nice run by him was erased by a holding penalty on Tom Compton to make it 2nd-and-17. Cousins misfired on second down, and a short pass to Latavius Murray was nowhere close to the line to gain. Wile came on to punt again, and Edelman called for a fair catch at the New England 17.

The Patriots started the drive with a run by Michel and a pass to Rob Gronkowski to appear to move the sticks and bring us to the two-minute warning. Mike Zimmer threw the challenge flag for the spot, arguing that Gronkowski was short of the line to gain, and the Patriots then had third-and-inches. To the Vikings’ credit, the defense rallied and hammered James White for a loss, so after the (second) two-minute warning, the Patriots were forced to punt. Ryan Allen put his foot to the ball, and Marcus Sherels brought the ball to the Minnesota 25.

Cousins started the drive off with a nice pass to Stefon Diggs on a slant, and he pushed the ball to the midfield stripe. Cousins then found Rudolph for another big chunk of yardage to the New England 27. Cook then carried the ball for five yards, and Cousins connected with Aldrick Robinson for seven more down to the Patriots’ 15-yard line. A short pass to Cook went for no gain, and a quick screen to Stefon Diggs went down to the 5-yard line for a first-and-goal! Cousins finished the drive off with his first completion of the day to Adam Thielen for a five-yard touchdown! Dan Bailey connected on the extra point, and with just fifteen seconds left in the half, Minnesota cut the lead to 10-7.

The Patriots got the ensuing kickoff to their own 40-yard line, as Dan Bailey squibbed it in an attempt to avoid Cordarrelle Patterson (though the Patriots pitched it to him on the return anyway). The Patriots completed a short pass to Gronkowski, but he was stopped short of midfield. The officials put a second back on the clock, and Brady was able to complete a pass to White that he took for a lot of yardage. . .42 yards. . .but White was stopped short of the goal line and the teams went into the locker room with the Patriots leading 10-7.

While not looking great for most of the first half, the final drive really gave Kirk Cousins a boost, as he’s now 15-of-19 for 109 yards and a touchdown on the afternoon. Stefon Diggs, who was questionable going into this one, is the team’s leading receiver with three catches for 40 yards. Kyle Rudolph has 33 yards on a pair of catches, and Dalvin Cook has caught five balls, but for a total of just 11 yards. C.J. Ham has a pair of catches for 11 yards, and Aldrick Robinson (7 yards) and Latavius Murray (2 yards) each have a catch. Thielen has just the one catch for five yards, but it’s the most important one of the game for the Vikings thus far, as it resulted in their lone touchdown.

Cook has done a nice job on the ground thus far, too, as he’s carried the ball five times for 62 yards and gotten a couple of solid gains. Latavius Murray has carried the ball twice for a total of five yards.

New England will get the football coming out of the locker room at halftime, and they’ll do so with a 10-7 lead over the Vikings. Can the Vikings keep the momentum they gained at the end of the first half?