Coming into today’s game against the Buffalo Bills, the Minnesota Vikings were 7-1, but a lot of people had real questions about this team. They had mostly beaten average teams this year, often only winning by one score. Their only win against a winning team so far had come against a Miami Dolphins team missing starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Those concerns seemed to be valid today in Buffalo. Late in the third quarter, the Vikings trailed 27-10 after struggling to move the ball after a dominant opening drive, Kirk Cousins had thrown two interceptions, and the defense couldn’t stop Josh Allen if they tried.
It was looking more and more like the Vikings would get blown out after going down by 17 points…until they weren’t. Viking running back Dalvin Cook ripped off a career-long 81-yard touchdown run to make it 27-17 at the end of the third. And that’s where the mayhem only began for Vikings fans.
On Buffalo’s next possession after the Cook touchdown, Viking cornerback Patrick Peterson intercepted Allen in the end zone. A 27-17 game soon became a 27-23 one after a 13-play drive resulted in a rushing touchdown by fullback C.J. Ham. A missed Greg Joseph extra point unfortunately meant the Vikings needed a touchdown to win should they get another chance to score. The Vikings eventually did get that chance, but turned the ball over on downs at the Bills’ one-yard line after a failed QB sneak. The team appeared ready to mail it in, until.
While trying to milk out the clock, a muffed snap by center Mitch Morse went on the ground in the end zone. Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks promptly pounced on it, and the team was up 30-27 with 41 seconds left. The mayhem didn’t stop there, however, as Allen led the Bills down the field on a game-tying drive that saw a Tyler Bass field goal send the game to overtime.
The Vikings would go down the field to the Bills’ two-yard line, but multiple plays of negative yardage forced them to settle for a field goal. It was 33-30 Vikings, but Allen continued to play great and just as it looked like the Bills were going to score a walk-off touchdown.
Pat Pete once again picked off Allen, this time late in the overtime period. This one sealed the game for good, and sent the Vikings home with an improbable win.
This win, however, also sealed the question many had been asking for weeks: are the Vikings for real?
The Answer Is Yes, The Vikings Are For Real
It was fair to ask if the Vikings were a legit team throughout the season’s first nine weeks, for the reasons mentioned early in the article. The Bills game was a good test to see how the Vikings would do when facing a good team for the second time around, as we know what happened the first time (they got blown out by the Eagles on Monday Night).
The Vikings’ 17-point comeback marked the first time since 1968, and the first time since the team started playing at Highmark Stadium, that the Bills lost a home game when leading by at least 14 points at halftime. Considering how long we’ve seen Buffalo be an NFL doormat that got hammered by the league’s elite, that’s impressive.
You cannot say now that this team has fraud written over it. To go on the road and win against a team that is considered by many to be the Super Bowl favorite in the AFC was really impressive.
This win should install a lot of confidence in these Vikings. As mentioned earlier, we saw how they did the first time around when facing a great team. An excellent win against one of the league’s elite should give this squad a lot of confidence heading into a three-week home stretch that sees them go up against the Cowboys, Patriots, and Jets, all of which have winning records.
Next Test For Minnesota: Winning By More Than One Score
The Vikings are 8-1 on the year, but seven of their wins, including this one, have come by one score.
Winning in the margins isn’t easy, but it’s also not sustainable. The Vikings cannot simply win by a score every single game, as they have to once in a while keep their foot on the gas pedal and hammer an opponent, just like they did in Week 1 against the Packers.
Today was a big step in gaining respect from around the league, but the next step will be to blow a couple of their next opponents out of the water and win by more than one score. Once the Vikings start doing that, the league will notice this special bunch.
The Vikings are here, and they are for real. A lot of people in the media will make today’s win about the ineptitude of the Buffalo offense (especially in the fourth quarter), but the Vikings deserve to be the story here. It was no fluke that they won today against an NFL powerhouse in such dramatic fashion. Coming back from down 17 is not easy whatsoever and the Vikings deserve all the credit in the world for what they accomplished today.