When the schedule came out back in April, it said that the Minnesota Vikings had their bye week scheduled for Week 12. In the first half, it appeared as though they were going to take Week 11 off as well.
Then the second half happened.
The Denver Broncos came into Minnesota and blasted their way to a 20-point halftime lead, but the Vikings scored touchdowns on all of their second-half possessions and held off a furious Denver rally at the end to escape with a 27-23 victory at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Denver got on the board first in this one, turning the opening kickoff into a 47-yard field goal from Brandon McManus to take a 3-0 lead. The Broncos also put the game’s first touchdown on the board, as Brandon Allen connected with tight end Troy Fumagalli for a three-yard touchdown pass to make the Denver lead 10-0. That play was set up by a big 48-yard pass to Courtland Sutton and a 24-yard pass interference penalty on Xavier Rhodes.
The Broncos then extended the lead in the early part of the second quarter, courtesy of a 1-yard run by fullback Andy Janovich. McManus added the extra point, and just like that the Vikings were ahead by a score of 17-0.
Denver added another field goal to take a 20-0 halftime lead into the locker room. After receiving the second half kickoff, the Vikings finally did something on offense, as they marched down the field and got into the end zone on a 10-yard pass from Kirk Cousins to rookie Irv Smith Jr. for the rookie’s first NFL touchdown reception.
After an offsides penalty on a punt negated a three-and-out, the Broncos added more points on a 41-yard McManus field goal to extend the lead to 23-7 in the late portion of the third quarter.
The Vikings got themselves back into the end zone early in the fourth quarter, as Dalvin Cook got into the end zone on a three-yard run. That made the score 23-13, and the Vikings elected to go for two. The Vikings tried to give it to Cook again, and he could not get into the end zone a second time.
The Vikings’ defense then forced a three-and-out, and Cousins came through again on the next drive, hitting Stefon Diggs for a huge 54-yard touchdown. With Dan Bailey’s extra point, the Vikings were back within a field goal, 23-20, with just over ten minutes remaining in the game.
The Broncos got McManus into position to attempt another field goal, but he pushed a 43-yard attempt wide to the right. That gave the Vikings the football back, and the Vikings proceeded to take their first lead of the afternoon thanks to the combination of Kirk Cousins and Kyle Rudolph.
That was a 32-yard catch-and-run for Rudolph, and with Dan Bailey’s extra point the Vikings took their first lead of the afternoon at 27-23 with six minutes remaining in the contest.
On their final drive, the Broncos pushed the ball all the way down to the Vikings’ 2-yard line. Denver had three chances on first-and-goal, but the Minnesota defense. . .and, specifically, Jayron Kearse. . .came up huge on the final three plays to hold on to the victory.
Kirk Cousins was absolutely on fire in the second half of this football game, and he ended up completing 29-of-35 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns. After a first half where he had no catches, Stefon Diggs wound up with five receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown on the afternoon. Kyle Rudolph had five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown, while Olabisi Johnson had six catches, but managed just 35 yards. Dalvin Cook had 31 yards on five receptions, Tyler Conklin had two catches for 28 yards, Irv Smith Jr. had three catches for 20 yards and his first NFL touchdown, and Ameer Abdullah (two catches, 11 yards) and C.J. Ham (one catch, six yards) caught passes as well.
Cook didn’t get a whole lot going on the ground, though he did cross over the 1,000-yard threshold for the season. He had just 26 yards on 11 carries, as the Broncos did a very good job of taking him away.
The Vikings move to 8-3 on the season, and match their win total from the entire 2018 season. They’ll now take their actual bye week, and then have a tough Monday Night Football matchup against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13. The Broncos fall to 3-7 on the season, and will travel next Sunday to take on the Buffalo Bills.
The Minnesota Vikings complete the greatest comeback of the Mike Zimmer era, coming back from a 20-point deficit to take down the Denver Broncos, 27-23, in Week 11 action at U.S. Bank Stadium. Thank you to everyone that got their coverage of this week’s game right here at The Daily Norseman!