The Minnesota Vikings came in short-handed on the defensive line against a San Francisco 49ers team that likes to run the football. That’s usually a recipe for disaster, and that’s how things played out on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.
Despite having plenty of chances throughout the afternoon, the Vikings wound up falling to the Niners by a score of 34-26 in Week 12 NFL action.
After the Vikings’ offense went three-and-out on the opening drive of the game, the Minnesota defense generated a turnover as Harrison Smith intercepted a pass from Jimmy Garoppolo to stop the Niners’ first offensive possession.
Minnesota cashed in on the interception, as Kirk Cousins found Adam Thielen for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the San Francisco 2-yard line on the ensuing drive. Greg Joseph hit the extra point, and the Vikings found themselves on top 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
The Niners responded in rapid fashion, as they got a 20-yard touchdown run from Deebo Samuel to even things up at 7-7. The touchdown followed a big conversion on 3rd-and-13 when it looked like the Vikings might be able to get off the field quickly.
Minnesota scored again early on the second quarter, and it was Cousins finding Thielen again, this time on a 20-yard strike to make the score 14-7 just minutes into the quarter.
The Niners evened things up at the end of the second quarter, as the Vikings allowed yet another touchdown in the two-minute drill. This time, it was Garoppolo finding Juwan Jennings for a 3-yard score with just eighteen seconds remaining in the half to even things up at 14-14.
San Francisco then “doubled up,” as they scored on the opening possession of the second half. Again, it was Samuel taking the ball into the end zone, going in from three yards out to make the score 21-14 early in the third quarter. Samuel also had the big play on the drive with a 49-yard run to give the Niners a goal-to-go situation.
The Vikings compounded their problems on the next drive, as Cousins threw an awful interception right to Niners’ linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, who returned it to the Minnesota 3-yard line. Eli Mitchell scored for the home team on the next play, and suddenly the Vikings found themselves trailing by two scores, 28-14.
To their credit, the Vikings marched down the field with an answer on their next possession, scoring on a 6-yard run from Alexander Mattison to get back to within 28-20. . .because the extra point went wide to the right by Joseph.
The Niners added more to their lead with just under five minutes left in the third quarter, as Robbie Gould banked a 46-yard field goal in off the right upright to make the score 31-20. The Vikings got an immediate answer from rookie Kene Nwangwu, as he took the ensuing kickoff and blasted 99 yards for his second kick return touchdown of the season. Minnesota went for the two-point conversion, and Cousins’ pass for Jefferson fell incomplete to leave the score at 31-26.
The Niners extended the lead following a Dalvin Cook fumble on a 22-yard field goal from Robbie Gould. Cook suffered a shoulder injury on the play, but the Vikings limited the damage to keep the San Francisco lead at 34-26 as the third quarter came to an end.
The Vikings positioned themselves to potentially tie midway through the fourth quarter, but Cousins’ pass on fourth-and-goal sailed over the head of Justin Jefferson and fell incomplete. The Niners then proceeded to grind out another long drive and looked to have a chance to put it away, but Robbie Gould missed a 42-yard field goal attempt to give the Vikings one more chance.
Minnesota got into San Francisco territory quickly on a long pass to Justin Jefferson to get to the 40-yard line, but Cousins’ 4th-down pass for Justin Jefferson fell incomplete on the next set of downs and the game came to an end.
The Vikings fall to 5-6 and will travel to Detroit next week to take on the Lions at Ford Field, while the Niners move to 6-5 and will travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks next week on Sunday Night Football.
The Vikings fall in yet another close game, 34-26 to the San Francisco 49ers. Thank you to everyone that got their coverage of today’s game right here at The Daily Norseman!