Few teams have missed more opportunities this season than the Minnesota Vikings have, and those opportunities came back to bite them in a game they desperately needed to win.
After going nearly a calendar month without allowing a touchdown, the Minnesota defense allowed them on three consecutive drives and saw Evan MacPherson’s 29-yard field goal split the uprights in overtime to lose in Week 15, 27-24.
The Bengals got on the board first in this one, turning the first possession of the game into a 34-yard Evan MacPherson field goal to take an early 3-0 lead. The Vikings answered with a touchdown on their first possession, as Ty Chandler went over from a yard out to give the Vikings a 7-3 lead. Chandler touched the ball eight times on the opening possession in helping the Vikings take the early advantage.
The Vikings looked like they had a chance to add points towards the end of the second quarter, but a pass from Nick Mullens was intercepted by Mike Hilton at the goal line to keep the score at 7-3. Then, the Vikings had another opportunity at points in a two-minute drill situation at the end of the first half, but Mullens’ attempt at a throwaway went off of the helmet of Bengals’ offensive lineman B.J. Hill and into his hands for another interception in scoring territory. That kept the score at 7-3 going into halftime.
Minnesota’s offense stopped shooting itself in the foot on their first drive of the second half, as Mullens found Jordan Addison for a 37-yard catch and run on a play that looked like it could have been a sack. Greg Joseph’s extra point was good and the Vikings increased their lead to 14-3 four minutes into the third quarter.
The Vikings then got an interception of their own on the Bengals’ first possession of the second half, as Browning’s pass was picked off by Akayleb Evans for his first NFL interception, setting the Vikings up again at midfield.
The Vikings turned that interception into more points, as Greg Joseph’s 39-yard field goal increased their lead to 17-3 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.
Cincinnati then cut into the Minnesota lead on the first play of the fourth quarter, as Browning found Tee Higgins for a 13-yard touchdown to make it 17-10. It was the first touchdown allowed by the Vikings since the end of the Denver game on 19 November and made it a one-score game early in the final stanza.
After a three-and-out for the Vikings’ offense, the Bengals marched down the field and scored another touchdown. Joe Mixon went over from a yard out on 4th-and-goal, and the Vikings’ defense gave up back-to-back touchdown drives after not allowing a touchdown for nearly a month. MacPherson’s extra point made the score 17-17 midway through the fourth quarter.
The Vikings took the momentum back on the next drive, as Mullens led the Vikings downfield for another touchdown, finding Jordan Addison in the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown that had everyone panicking when he threw it. Joseph was good on the extra point and with less than four minutes to go the Vikings were back on top, 24-17.
Cincinnati got the football back and put together another drive into Minnesota territory, and then Browning threw up a prayer for Tee Higgins, who hauled it in for a 21-yard touchdown reception and the game was once again tied at 24-24 with less than a minute remaining. The Vikings couldn’t do anything with their last possession and the game went into overtime.
Cincinnati got the ball first in the extra frame and went three-and-out, giving the Vikings the ball back with the opportunity to win with any score. The Vikings got into Cincinnati territory and had a 3rd-and-1 from the Bengals’ 42-yard line, but couldn’t convert on two consecutive sneaks from Mullens and turned the ball over on downs.
The Bengals then got into field goal range as Browning found Tyler Boyd for a 44-yard gain down to the Minnesota 12-yard line, and it was academic from there as MacPherson came in and drilled a kick from 29 yards out to give the Bengals the win.
The Vikings fall to 7-7 on the season and now have their work cut out for them to make the postseason with three divisional games coming up.
Minnesota falls to Cincinnati in overtime in Week 15, 27-24, to make their chances of making the postseason worse. Thanks to everyone who got their coverage of this week’s game right here at The Daily Norseman!