In the 2021 regular season opener, the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals gave us a thriller and ten full minutes of extra football. In the end, an error by the Vikings gave away a chance at a victory.
Greg Joseph hit a career-long 53-yard field goal at the gun to send the game to overtime, but rookie Evan McPherson hit a 38-yarder at the end of overtime to give the Bengals a 27-24 victory in Week 1 of the NFL season.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Vikings got on the board first midway through the second quarter, courtesy of a 5-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Adam Thielen. Greg Joseph was true on the extra point, and the Vikings found themselves with a 7-0 lead.
The Bengals responded on the next drive, as a couple of Vikings’ penalties, including a pass interference call on Bashaud Breeland, gave them a first-and-goal at the 3 at the two-minute warning, and they converted on a 2-yard pass from Joe Burrow to Tee Higgins to tie things up with 1:47 remaining in the half.
After a three-and-out from the Vikings, Cincinnati scored again on a 50-yard bomb from Burron to rookie Ja’Marr Chase, with Breeland getting beaten on the play again. The extra point was good, and the home team went into the locker room at halftime with a 14-7 lead.
The Bengals added to their lead on their first possession of the third quarter, with another long drive resulting in a touchdown. This one came on a 2-yard run from Joe Mixon, with the extra point making it 21-7, Bengals, with just over nine minutes left in the third quarter.
The Vikings finally got an answer late in the third quarter. The Bengals, inexplicably, went for it on a 4th-and-1 at their own 30, and the Vikings turned that into points on a 24-yard pass from Cousins to Thielen, their second scoring connection of the day. That cut the lead to 21-14 with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Bengals extended their lead on the next possession, thanks to a 53-yard field goal from rookie Evan McPherson to make it 24-14 early in the fourth quarter. The Vikings then got a little bit closer, thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run by Dalvin Cook. The Vikings lost a timeout challenging the previous play where it looked like Justin Jefferson had scored, but Cook took the ball in to cut the Cincinnati lead to a field goal.
The Vikings had to run the two-minute drill at the end of the game and got Greg Joseph into position to attempt a 53-yard field goal at the gun, and he drilled it! But the Bengals called timeout. . .but then Joseph drilled it again and the game went into overtime at 24-24.
The Bengals got the ball first in overtime after winning the toss, but their drive was stopped by the second sack of the day for Michael Pierce, the fifth Vikings’ sack of the afternoon. That gave the Vikings the ball at around their own 20-yard line, but they punted the ball away and Jordan Berry pinned the Bengals deep. Minnesota’s defense then forced a three-and-out and got the ball back near their own 40 with just under four minutes to play.
At the two-minute warning, the Vikings had the ball with a 1st-and-10 from the Cincinnati 38-yard line, and handed the ball to Dalvin Cook. Cook was dragged down by a host of Cincinnati defenders and was ruled to have fumbled with the Bengals recovering, and a review of the play confirmed the call.
The Bengals then moved down the field and got a huge 32-yard pass from Burrow to C.J. Uzomah to put themselves in position for a field goal. McPherson connected from 33 yards out to send the Vikings to a heartbreaking loss.
The Vikings fall to 0-1 to open the season and will once again take to the road in Week 2 when they head to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals. The Bengals get the win to go to 1-0 and will make a road trip next week as well as they head to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears.
Remember, we’ve got two post-game shows coming up just minutes from now for you to check out. Vikings Rewind with Drew and Ted (and Chris) will be airing live on their YouTube Channel and in a post we’ll be putting up here shortly, and the folks from Climbing the Pocket will have a show up shortly after the conclusion of this one on their YouTube Channel as well as The Daily Norseman’s page on FaceBook.