Vikings vs. Patriots score, takeaways: Justin Jefferson shines on Thanksgiving as Minnesota improves to 9-2

The Vikings drew 9-2 in the season after beating the Patriots 33-26 in the final game of the NFL’s Thanksgiving triple header.

After both being held against field goals in Week 11, both offenses wasted no time reaching the end zone to start this game. Minnesota needed just eight games to stride 80 yards for a touchdown on the night’s opening drive. Then New England matched that score with one of their own when Mac Jones scored a 34-yard touchdown with Nelson Agholor. From there, those offenses continued to match in the first half and found themselves knotted at 16 at the break.

New England opened the final half with a 75-yard touchdown drive to go up by seven. It wasn’t long before Minnesota leveled the game again when Kene Nwangwu ran back a 97-yard kickoff for a touchdown.

It was 26-all early in the fourth quarter, and at that point the Vikings began to retreat. A penalty against New England for running into the kicker gave Minnesota new life with a third and fourth punt and they conceded. Two games after the penalty, Cousins ​​completed a 36-yard pass to Justin Jefferson and then a 15-yard touchdown to Adam Thielen to take and hold the lead.

Kirk Cousins ​​finished 30 of 37 for 299 yards with three TDs and an interception. Justin Jefferson was his target and the star wideout had 9 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown. breaking a record set by Randy Moss included. Meanwhile, Mac Jones was 28 of 39 for a season-high 382 yards with two TDs and no interceptions.

For a more detailed breakdown of this game, check out our takeaways below.

Why the Vikings won

While there was narrative centered around Kirk Cousins ​​in primetime games, the Vikings quarterback was largely good Thursday. He had a poorly thrown interception, but other than that, he was stellar for Minnesota. He could match every Patriots score and split the ball among seven different pass catchers. However, Justin Jefferson was his target and the star wideout continues to carry offense. In addition to racking up stats, Jefferson made a series of clutch catches, including the 36-yard reception that helped set up Thielen’s go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

While the defense allowed a number of chunk plays through the air, they also have their credit for holding down the Patriots offense to end the game. After Minnesota took the 33-26 lead, the defense forced a three-and-off, a turnover on downs on subsequent possession, and then kept them out of the end zone as the clock ran down to the end of regulation.

Why the Patriots lost

Fighting in New England’s red zone continued Thursday. Early in that game, the Patriots were ranked 31st in red zone touchdown rate and went 3-0 in the red to the Vikings. Indeed, the offense relied on Mac Jones’ chunk plays, which he was able to deliver as both of his passing scores came from over 30 yards. However, when they knocked on the end zone door, they couldn’t get through it. In fact, the Patriots had two drives where they got the ball at least to the Vikings’ 6-yard line and failed to score touchdowns on either of them. Yes, there was a controversial Hunter Henry touchdown that was ultimately recalled, but the Patriots had several plays within the 10-yard line and couldn’t find a way to put it through.

Of course, you can’t talk about this loss without bringing up the unity of the special teams. This was a remarkably poor performance by this unit and their underplay directly resulted in 14 points for the Vikings. After taking the lead to start the second half with a 75-yard touchdown drive, the Patriots’ special teams immediately allowed Minnesota to tie the game back, allowing for a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. They also committed a run into the kicker penalty in the fourth quarter, which allowed the Vikings to score the game-winning touchdown.

turning point

This was a back and forth game all night as these clubs caught up with each other to tie the game at various points. In the early stages of the fourth quarter, the score was tied at 26 and it looked like New England would force a three-and-off and get the ball back with an opportunity to take the lead. However, rookie Pierre Strong ran into punter Ryan Wright as he attempted to boot the ball away, which drew a flag. The five-yard penalty was enough to give the Vikings a first down and keep the drive alive. Three games later, Kirk Cousins ​​beat Adam Thielen in what turned out to be a go-ahead for the touchdown.

game of the game

Let’s give Kene Nwangwu some props for taking that kickoff 97 yards to the house. After New England scored on a 37-yard touchdown by Hunter Henry in the second half, it felt like the momentum was shifting towards the Patriots. However, when Nwangwu ran this back, any positive juice the Patriots got was quickly dumped.

This was the third kickoff return for a touchdown of Nwangwu’s career.

What’s next

From here, the Patriots will return to Foxborough and prepare for another game Thursday night as they host the Buffalo Bills for their first meeting of the season. The Vikings will be hanging out at US Bank Stadium preparing for the New York Jets.


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