Vikings rally from 10-point deficit to beat Lions 28-24
It was a resounding comeback by the Vikings, who heard boos when they fell behind 14-0 in the second quarter and 24-14 in the third quarter.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Early in the fourth quarter Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings were trailing Detroit by 10 points and boos were reigning down. So were they worried?
“Oh, no,’’ said edge rusher Danielle Hunter. “We’re pros, man. We just got to go in and do our jobs.’’
The work was accomplished when Minnesota’s defense rose up when necessary and Kirk Cousins threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open K.J. Osborn with 45 seconds remaining. The result was a 28-24 win over Lions in a game in which the Vikings had trailed by as many as 14 points in the second quarter.
It was a joyful win by the Vikings (2-1), who were coming off an ugly 24-7 loss at Philadelphia last Monday night and had a short week to prepare for the improved Lions (1-2).
“Kirk threw a great ball as always and the rest is history,’’ Osborn said. “I just wanted to do my job and make the play. … It felt amazing, man.”
The only concern after the game for the Vikings was for the health of running back Dalvin Cook, who suffered a shoulder injury late in the third quarter and did not return after rushing for 97 yards on 17 carries. But there was optimism that Cook’s injury won’t keep him out of next Sunday’s game against New Orleans in London.
“He’ll be day-to-day,’’ said head coach Kevin O’Connell. “We’ll run some tests. We should have some time to hopefully get him turned over, and he’s already told me … ‘I’ll be out there next week.”’
Cook was replaced by running back Alexander Mattison, who helped get Minnesota’s comeback going and finished with 28 yards on seven carries. Mattison barreled in for a 6-yard touchdown run with 7:50 left in the game to cut the deficit to 24-21.
Then the defense took over when needed. The Vikings stopped running back Jamaal Williams for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Minnesota 30, and they took over with 3:30 left in the game.
The Vikings turned the ball over on downs but the defense soon stepped up again. On Detroit’s next drive, Austin Seibert missed a 54-yard field goal with 1:10 left in the game after the Lions strangely didn’t go for it on fourth-and-4 at the Minnesota 36.
“We had some big stops,’’ said linebacker Eric Kendricks.
After Seibert’s miss, Cousins and Osborn took over. Following an incompletion, Cousins hit Osborn for 28 yards to the Lions 28. And then Cousins found Osborn coming across the middle and he easily trotted into the right side of the end zone.
“Whoever’s open,’’ Cousins said of the last two passes to Osborn. “In the two-minute (offense), he takes advantage and shows up.”
Osborn was open because the Lions were paying so much attention to star receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.
“I play with two amazing wide receivers,’’ Osborn said. “I know they’re going to get a lot of double coverage and that’s going to leave me one-on-one or hopefully wide open. That’s when I’ll make a play.’’
Cousins completed 24 of 41 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Osborn had five receptions for 73 yards while Jefferson had just three grabs for 14 yards. But O’Connell said Jefferson was “the first guy celebrating the touchdown with” Osborn.
Thielen did catch six passes for 61 yards and had the 50th receiving touchdown of his career. That came when he caught a 1-yard pass from Cousins early in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 14-7.
The Lions had jumped out to a 14-0 lead on a 2-yard run by Williams in the first quarter and a 5-yard pass from Jared Goff to T.J. Hockenson early in the second quarter. The first touchdown was set when Goff threw a 30-yard pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown to the Minnesota 2 on fourth-and-5. And the Lions converted two fourth-and-1 plays on the drive that led to their second touchdown.
The Vikings tied the score 14-14 on Cook’s 4-yard run late in the second quarter. But the Lions went up 24-14 in the third quarter on a 40-yard field goal by Seibert and a 13-yard run by Williams.
The Lions were aggressive much of the game, and were 4 of 6 on fourth-down plays. But they didn’t go for it on fourth-and-4 at the Minnesota 36 with 1:14 left in the game and up 24-21. The Vikings had no timeouts, so a first down would have ended the game. Lions coach Dan Campbell later said he “should have” gone for it.
“I hate it,’’ he said. “I just hate the decision. I wish I could put it back in their hands offensively. So be it, you know. I just wish I would have done that.”
After all, the Lions’ offense rolled up 416 yards for the game. Goff completed 25 of 41 passes for 277 yards. And the Lions ran for 139 yards, 87 by Williams.
Goff had success much of the game going against a Vikings defense missing star safety Harrison Smith, out with a concussion. Smith was replaced by Josh Metellus, who did close the game with an interception on a desperation long pass by Goff from the 50 with 17 seconds left. O’Connell then gave defensive coordinator Ed Donatell a big hug and expressed his relief.
“You could just feel the emotion of the whole stadium, understanding how important it was for us to persevere and rally,’’ O’Connell said.
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