After an amazing 13-4 season that saw them capture the NFC North title, the Minnesota Vikings’ season is over after a Wild Card loss to the New York Giants.
Despite the one and done postseason, this was truly an unforgettable season in many ways. It was full of chaos, many tight one-score games, and exciting moments. Today we are going to go through the five best moments of the 2022 Vikings season.
Please note that this series will go fifth best to the best, so the best moment of the season will be towards the end of the article.
Moment No. 5: Greg Joseph’s 61-yard field goal vs. the Giants gives Vikings fans an early Christmas gift
On Christmas Eve, the Vikings played a home game against the Giants in what was a preview of their Wild Card meeting three weeks later. It was a close game throughout, with an early 10-0 Vikings lead becoming a 13-10 Giants lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter is where the excitement began for both teams. Kirk Cousins touchdown throws to T.J. Hockenson and Justin Jefferson, coupled by a Graham Gano field goal for the Giants, gave the Vikings a 24-16 lead before a Saquon Barkley touchdown run with a successful two point attempt resulted in the game being tied with two minutes left.
Once again, as was the common theme during the regular season, Cousins led the Vikings on a drive that resulted in them being in position for a game winning field goal. Sure enough, kicker Greg Joseph hit a 61 yarder at the gun to give the Vikings a win and fans an unexpected Christmas gift.
Moment No. 4: Vikings enjoy a Thanksgiving feast with a win over the Patriots
Coming off a 40-3 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, the Vikings hosted the Patriots on Thanksgiving night with something to prove. This team wanted to prove to the media that the Dallas game was an anomaly and not who this team really was. In playing the Patriots, the Vikings were playing a team they had not beaten since 2000, Bill Belichick’s first year as Patriots coach.
An early shootout led to a 16-16 draw at halftime. After a touchdown throw from Mac Jones to Hunter Henry, Kene Nwangnu opened the floodgates with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to tie the game. After that, Minnesota outscored the Patriots 10-3 for the rest of the game and went on to win, 33-26.
Previously 0-2 against Belichick, Kirk Cousins carved his defense up, completing 30 of 37 throws for 299 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. Justin Jefferson caught nine passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns, and T.J. Hockenson scored his first touchdown as a Viking.
Moment No. 3: A Week 1 Border Battle Victory Sets The Tone For The Season
Vikings fans love it when our favorite team beats our hated rivals to the East, but this victory against the Packers was truly special.
In a game that set the tone for the season to come, Vikings jumped out to an 20-0 lead in the third quarter as the defense stifled Aaron Rodgers and Co., sacking him four times and picking him off once, and Justin Jefferson torched the Packer secondary for 184 yards and two touchdowns. 158 of Jefferson’s yards came in the first half of the game.
The Vikings went on to win 23-7, one of only two wins by the team that came by more than one score, with the other being Week 18 at the Chicago Bears.
Moment No. 2: Vikings Win Game of the Year in Buffalo
The 7-1 Vikings went into Buffalo to face a 5-2 Bills team that was among the league’s elite. Prior to the season, many fans had this game being a loss, and they appeared to be right as the Bills jumped out to a 27-10 lead in the third quarter and were in cruise control. And then, chaos ensued.
Dalvin Cook’s 81-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter brought the score to 27-17 Bills. However, Josh Allen tossed an interception to Patrick Peterson that set up a C.J. Ham rushing touchdown, with a missed extra point resulted in the score being 27-23. The Vikings forced the Bills to punt the ball away and on their next drive, a fourth and 18 saw Kirk Cousins heave the ball to Justin Jefferson, who made a one handed catch that could be the greatest catch of all-time. The Vikings got the goal line, but failed to convert on fourth and goal. As the team appeared to be on the losing end of a very exciting game, madness ensued.
A basic kneel down for Buffalo at their own one-yard line turned out to be catastrophic, as a botched snap by Bills center Mitch Morse was recovered in the end zone by Eric Kendricks for a Vikings touchdown. After Allen led the Bills to a field goal that sent the game to OT, the Vikings got the ball first and kicked a field goal to go in front, 33-30. As it looked like Buffalo was going for a touchdown and the kill, Allen tossed his second interception of the day to Peterson. This win moved the Vikings to 8-1 on the year and became the team’s most emotional win since the Minneapolis Miracle. This was a game that many of us, Vikings fans or not, will be talking about for a very long time.
However, this game became overshadowed by what turned out to be not only the team’s greatest moment of the year, but one of the greatest moments in NFL history.
Moment No. 1: Vikings Complete Largest Comeback in NFL History vs. Colts
33-0. That’s all you need to know. The Vikings were down by that score at halftime to a four-win Colts team led by a washed up Matt Ryan and ESPN analyst Jeff Saturday as their interim coach. Kirk Cousins threw a pick six, the special teams had a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, and everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
That is, until the team realized who exactly they were going up against.
The Vikings opened the second half of the game with a Cousins touchdown throw to K.J. Osborn to make it 33-7. The Colts countered with a field goal, but that was all the scoring they did for the rest of the day. Despite tossing an interception in the middle of the fourth quarter, Cousins led the Vikings on four second-half touchdown drives to tie the game at 36. His fourth touchdown pass of the day, a screen to Dalvin Cook that went 64 yards to the house, was followed by a successful two point conversion to T.J. Hockenson that tied the game. The teams went to overtime, and after an exchange of punts, Greg Joseph’s field goal in the closing seconds of the extra period gave the Vikings a 39-36 win that clinched their first NFC North title since 2017 and completed the largest comeback in NFL history.
Like the Bills game, that comeback win against the Colts will be talked about for a long time to come.
Yes, the 2022 Vikings were not as good as their 13-4 record showed. At the same time, however, this was a really fun season, highlighted by some memorable games and individual performances. For a team with a first year general manager and head coach that called this season a “competitive rebuild,” I’d say that this season far exceeded expectations. It felt good to be winning all those close games that we lost under the previous regime.
Don’t be sad about how this season ended, be happy that it happened. This year was a memorable ride for the ages.