Coming into Saturday’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants were first and second in the NFL in one-score games. So, we should have expected as much in Week 16, and that’s precisely what we got.
It took a 61-yard field goal from Greg Joseph with no time left on the clock, but the Vikings got yet another one-score victory on Christmas Eve by holding off the Giants by a final score of 27-24.
After both teams punted on their first two possessions, the Vikings got into the end zone first, courtesy of a 12-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to T.J. Hockenson to give the Vikings an early 7-0 lead.
On the Giants’ next drive, they pushed into Minnesota territory but rookie Brian Asamoah made the biggest play of his young career, stripping the ball from Giants’ tight end Daniel Bellinger after a catch and scooping it up himself for a big turnover.
The Vikings turned the turnover into points, as Greg Joseph connected on a 40-yard field goal to push the lead to 10-0 with just under ten minutes left in the half. The Giants responded with their first points of the afternoon, as Daniel Jones connected with Isaiah Hodgins for a 7-yard touchdown to make it a 10-7 game with just over four minutes left in the first half. That was the score when the two teams went into halftime.
New York tied things up on their opening drive of the second half, getting Graham Gano into position for a 44-yard field goal. He connected, and that tied things at 10-10 just under four minutes into the second half.
The Giants then took a lead on another 44-yard field goal from Gano, making it 13-10 with four and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Minnesota took the lead back early in the fourth quarter on the second touchdown catch of the day for T.J. Hockenson, a beautiful 15-yard pitch-and-catch from Cousins for the score. Greg Joseph’s extra point was good, and the Vikings were back on top by a score of 17-13 less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
It looked like the Giants might march back down the field and pick up more points, but a Giants’ drive into Minnesota territory was stopped cold by Patrick Peterson, who intercepted Daniel Jones deep in Minnesota territory to get the purple the football back. The Vikings’ offense then faced a 4th-and-2 from the Giants’ 44-yard line, and Kevin O’Connell kept the offense on the field. Unfortunately, Cousins’ pass for Justin Jefferson fell incomplete for a turnover on downs.
New York got within a point on another Gano field goal, this one a 55-yarder that cut the score to 17-16 with 6:24 left in the contest. After the Vikings were forced to punt it away again, Minnesota’s special teams came up huge when Josh Metellus blocked a Jamie Gillian punt with the Vikings recovering at the New York 29-yard line.
The Vikings cashed in on the blocked punt thanks to the best wide receiver in the NFL, as Cousins found Jefferson from 17 yards out to make it 24-16 with three minutes left in regulation.
But, because this is the Vikings, they couldn’t make it easy and the Giants once again pushed down the field and into Minnesota territory. Then, on a 4th-and-2 play from the Minnesota 27-yard line, Saquon Barkley busted through and the seas parted for a 27-yard touchdown run to make it 24-22. The Giants then got the necessary two-point conversion, as Jones found Bellinger for the score to tie things at 24-24 with two minutes remaining.
That was all the time the Vikings needed, as the offense got Greg Joseph into position to attempt a 61-yard field goal with seconds left on the clock. Joseph lined up the kick and absolutely drilled it, setting a new Vikings franchise record and giving the Vikings a 27-24 victory.
There were a lot of stars in this one. Both Jefferson (133 yards) and Hockenson (109 yards) went over the 100-yard mark and accounted for all of Kirk Cousins’ touchdown passes, as Cousins threw for 299 yards on the afternoon. A lot of players made big plays in big situations and it was just enough to move Minnesota’s record in one-score games this season to 11-0 and keep them ahead of the San Francisco 49ers for the #2 spot in the NFC playoff field.
Minnesota’s record moves to 12-3 with the win, and they’ll travel to Lambeau Field next weekend for their second game of the year against Green Bay. The Giants move to 8-6-1 and will host the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday afternoon.
The Minnesota Vikings give us another gift on Christmas Eve, as they defeat the New York Giants in the regular-season home finale by a score of 27-24 at the buzzer. Thanks to everyone that got their coverage of this week’s game right here at The Daily Norseman!