Vikings make NFL comeback history


By David McDonnell

Holy Mother of God, What a comeback!!!!

The Vikings were 33-0 down against the Colts at half-time, but staged a miraculous second-half comeback to send the game to overtime, where they won at the death to complete the biggest ever comeback in NFL history.

It is difficult even now trying to comprehend what we witnessed. 

At half time, it had been all so different. 

In the first half the Vikings kept getting punished from largely self-inflicted wounds with the Vikes being roundly booed by their home support as they trailed 33-0.

The Colts first touchdown came from a blocked punt, their second after Dalvin Cook had fumbled which led to a successful touchdown drive, and a third score came after Kirk Cousins was intercepted by Julian Blackmon for a pick six. 

The Colts took at 33-0 into half-time. 

In the third quarter touchdown a touchdown from the impressive KJ Osbourne looked like a consolation score. 

Even when they added a second, there wasn’t much of a fuss from anywhere but when Justin Jefferson got a third touchdown at the start of the second quarter, the whole mood of the stadium changed.

It made a two-score game with 13 minutes remaining and there was certainly a belief that a comeback could be on the cards. The atmosphere was rocking but when Cousins threw an interception with eight minutes remaining, everyone took a breath.

However two minutes later, Cousins was one-yard out with a first and goal and two plays later found Adam Thielen for a touchdown.

Before the two minute warning, Minnesota made a big stop on fourth down when Matt Ryan tried the QB sneak. The chains showed him to be just short and with 2.19 left, Dalvin Cook broke free from a screen pass and went 64 yards for a touchdown that exposed some poor tackling by the Colts. 

Cousins found Hockenson through the middle for the two point conversion to tie the scores, 36-36. 

The game went to overtime and with time threatening to run out, Greg Joseph kicked over from 40 yards to make history as the Vikings completed the greatest comeback in NFL history.

There have been 1551 games in the NFL,  and these Minnesota Vikings are the only team to comeback from a 33 point deficit. 

The win secures the NFC North title for Minnesota, while at the same time probably ending Jeff Saturday’s chances of keeping his interim coaching job past this season. His side paid the price for thinking the game was over and terrible clock management and play calling.

This comeback will live long in the memory.

Thanksgiving NFL: Patriots v Vikings

By Conor Perrett 

In our next preview of the Thanksgiving games, we’re travelling back up north to Minnesota, as they prepare to host the New England Patriots in the late kick-off at 1.30 a.m. GMT. 

Both teams are coming off low scoring games from themselves. The only difference is Bill Belichick and the Patriots preference is that way and the Vikings hit a major hiccup to their season last time out. 

Minnesota Vikings (8-2)

Power Rankings – 11th

DVOA Rankings: Offence – 19th, Defence – 18th, ST – 26th: Overall – 24th

Despite the 8-2 record, which leaves Minnesota for the tied 2nd best record in the NFL, via football outsiders DVOA’s metrics, they rank 24th in the league.

The gap between the two is enormous and paints a picture into the Vikings performances this season. Minnesota has had the fortune of a fairly easy schedule in the league, but has suffered when playing the big teams. Their win against Buffalo will famously go down as one of the craziest endings in the NFL, but defeats to Eagles and Cowboys have been less watchable.

Minnesota are coming off the biggest lopsided loss in the NFL this season when they lost 40-3 to Dallas. Their offensive gameplay failed miserably and it was an even worse day at the office for the defence. 

The offence, run by former Rams offensive-coordinator Kevin O’Connell, looks promising with Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook and TJ Hockenson who are all stars at their respective positions. The problem may just be the guy throwing them the ball, Kirk Cousins. 

Cousins’ current EPA per dropback this season is minus-0.06, which ranks 26th among the 35 quarterbacks. In a new scheme it’s fair to give him time but there’s been questions about Cousins’ ceiling for some time. Cousins has always struggled when the lights are on him in prime-time games and Thursday night will be no different. 

Maybe a win tonight, he can change the agenda around him against the best defence in the league.

New England Patriots (6-4)

Power Rankings – 13th

DVOA Rankings: Offence – 26th, Defence – 1st, ST – 5th: Overall – 11th

Post Tom Brady, the New England Patriots are in a very different place concentrating more on the defensive part of the game now. New England’s defence is 1st in defensive DVOA as they specialise in suffocating their opponents. 

The defence has carried them through games this year, most recently against the Jets when they won without scoring an offensive touchdown.That’s been the story of the Patriots season so far. 

Defence exceptional, but offence diabolical. The main cause to that has been the quarterback position. Mac Jones has been poor in the passing game and opposing defences have taken advantage of that. The running game hasn’t been too bad, ranking 18th in EPA per rush, but teams have made an effort to stop that and force Jones to beat them.


I think it’s safe to say this game will be on the lower end of scoring. I like the Vikings offence but feel the Patriot’s D will match up well against them. 

The Patriots’ offence hasn’t been good this season by any measure, but when the Cowboys scored 40 against the Vikings last Sunday, it creates blueprints for other teams to use. 

Belichick is the master of that and will take advantage of an inexperienced coaching staff. It will be hard to win on the road but I see it being close towards the end of the game and the underdogs Pats taking the win at the end of Thanksgiving.

Patriots 13-10 Vikings

Our Week 10 Awards

By David McDonnell

We always post these on our socials, but we’ve decided this week to throw them up on a post.

Offensive Player of Week 10: Justin Jefferson (Vikings)

Defensive Player of Week 10: Patrick Peterson (Vikings)

Rookie of Week 10: Christian Watson (Packers)

Touchdown of Week 10: Justin Fields (Bears)

Smashmouthing Football’s Smash of Week 10: Andre Cisco (Jaguars)

Fist-pump of Week 10: Who else? (Packers)

How does Aaron Rodgers celebrate when he gets a question right on Jeopardy?

Jefferson settles the Bills

By David McDonnell 

It was a game for the ages in upstate New York!!!

Anyone watching the NFL could not but have been blown away by the best game of the season and perhaps the most incredible regular season win in Minnesota Vikings history.

Even now, Josh Allen and the Bills mafia must be scratching their heads wondering how they let this victory slip from their grasp but it was a win based on merit even if the circumstances which brought it are still puzzling. 

The star of the show was undoubtedly Justin Jefferson, who finished with 193 receiving yards and a number of unforgettable plays during a contest likely to go down in folklore, especially if either side should go on to win the Superbowl.

Vikings v Bills

To say that the contest was decided by the smallest of margins does not come close to telling the tale, so I’ll begin midway through the third quarter and I’ll try to keep the hyperbole to a minimum. 

It has been a well-contested affair up to that point and the Super Bowl favourite Bills enjoyed a 17-point lead with two first-half Deven Singletary scores. Then Dalvin Cook rattled off a wonderful 71 yard touchdown run during which he was clocked at a speed  of 21.7 miles an hour. It left 10 points between the sides by the start of the fourth quarter. 

Soon after Josh Allen was in the redzone looking to extend Buffalo’s lead when he threw an interception to Patrick Peterson. In hindsight this was the first of a number of game-changing plays. Kirk Cousins led the resultant drive and full-back CJ Ham punched it in but a missed PAT by Greg Joseph left four points of a margin.

By the time Cousins got the ball back there was 3.30 left on the clock. On third and long, Cousins was sacked by Von Miller and it left Minnesota with a fourth and 18.

It seemed a hopeless case. 

Cousins threw down the sideline and somehow Jefferson managed to pull the ball from a defender’s arm and gain possession by the time he had reached the ground for the best and most important catch of his young and distinguished career to date.

Let’s take a closer look.

Another pass from Cousins to his favourite receiver brought the play inside five yards with just over a minute left on the clock. On third and goal, Cousins again went back to Jefferson and although he was ruled on the field to have scored a touchdown, the video referee judged that the wideout’s knee was down half a yard shy of the endzone. 

On fourth and inches, and once again with the game on the line Cousins went for a QB sneak, but he was stopped short and there was a turnover on downs. The Bills players and crowd celebrated a wonderful goal-line stand and it seemed to all that the game was over. 

All the Bills had to do was snap the ball and regain possession and time would run out.

However, Allen fumbled the snap into his endzone and Viking linebacker Erik Kendricks came up with the ball from on the bottom of the pile for a go ahead touchdown. This time it was the Vikings turn to celebrate a three point lead after a barely believable happenstance.  

With 41 seconds still on the clock. Allen bounced back and led his team up the field to kick a field goal to bring the game into overtime. The Vikings won the coin toss and on third and long, Cousins again found Jefferson in double coverage to extend the drive which ended with a Greg Joseph field goal. 

It meant Allen had three and a half minutes to win or tie the game. 

On the drive he picked up 46 yards with his feed and converted two passes to Stefon Diggs to bring the play into the red zone. With a win looking on the cards, Allen was intercepted, again by Peterson, to finish the game in dramatic style.

The result drops the Bills to third in the AFC East division with problems defending the run and with their own rushing attack. The Vikings are now 8-1 and they have won their last seven games by less than one score. This week, Patrick Peterson had the honour of wearing the chains on the flight home to Minnesota.

Cowboys v Packers 

The second best game of the weekend turned out to be a thriller in Lambeau Field and again it took overtime to separate the sides.  

It was a fantastic contest throughout and in the end the small margins made the difference as the Packers snapped a five-game losing streak to beat the highly fancied Cowboys. It adds another chapter to a long storied rivalry between two of the NFL’s most iconic franchises.

Ceedee Lamb had statistically the best game of his career and he opened the scoring in the second quarter, but he was matched by the rookie Christian Watson, who did well tracking a ball over the top for a 37-yard touchdown.

That drive began when Dak Prescott was picked by Rudy Ford and when Ford picked him again, it led to an Aaron Jones touchdown.  Dak responded with a two minute drive which ended up with Dalton Schultz leveling the scores by half time.  

For Dallas, Tony Pollard had 122 yards on the day and he opened the third quarter with a touchdown and by the start of the fourth, the Cowboys led 28-14, when Ceedee Lamb got his second TD to go with 150 yards receiving on the night.

The Packers running game was very impressive throughout and they rushed for over 200 yards. It allowed Rodgers to use play action which allowed him to make bigger chuck plays down the field. With the Green Bay season on the line, Rogers caught fire finding the rookie Watson for his second and third touchdowns of the contest to send the game to overtime. 

The Cowboys won the coin toss and on their drive, they turned down a field goal opportunity and went for it on fourth and two, but were stopped. Rodgers brought his team down to the 10-yard line with a lot of fist-pumping and some passes thrown in for Mason Crosby to kick the winner.

It leaves the Packers second in the NFC North on a record of 4-6. If they can perform like this every week, they would give themselves a great chance of making the NFC playoffs as a wildcard. 

Lions v Bears

Another brilliant game involving teams from the NFC North ended up as a shootout between the Lions and the Bears. 

Justin Fields scrambled for an impromptu score to leave the score 10-10 at the break. 

Two touchdown passes to Cole Kmet saw Chicago into a 14-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. The game took on a life of its own when a D’Andre Swift touchdown was followed up soon after when Fields was picked off by his old Ohio State teammate Jeff Okudah to level the scores at 24 apiece.

Not to be outdone by his former Buckeye teammate, Fields answered back by taking off on a great run to score a sensational touchdown, and he even managed to leave Okudah in his dust. Last week Fields scored our Touchdown of the Week and is looking likely to do so again with this brilliant effort. 

Very tellingly, the Bears kicker Cairo Santos missed the PAT and the Lions spent the next eight minutes driving down the field and Jamaal Williams scored his ninth touchdown of the season from close range. They had no problem adding the extra point. Fields got the ball back with just over two minutes remaining but a pair of sacks gave Detroit their first away victory in almost two years. 

Round Up 

Jimmy Garoppolo had one of his best games for San Francisco as the 49ers edged out the LA Chargers in the late kickoff, where both defences excelled. A pair of touchdowns from one-yard out from Jimmy G and Christian McCaffery won a competitive contest 16-22. 

The most interesting play of the game came at half time when linebacker Dre Greenlaw was ejected from the field for a helmet-to-helmet collision with Justin Herbert. Due to the post-Tua update to the concussion protocol, Herbert was also forced to leave the fray but returned for the second half. 

After a week of being publicly bashed by everyone in football, Jeff Saturday got his reign as Colts head coach off to a winning start by beating the Raiders. He made a big call by starting Matt Ryan under centre. It paid off when Ryan found Paris Campbell for what turned out to be the winning score. A Jonathon Taylor touchdown in the third quarter was a season highlight for the under-performing running back. 

Josh McDaniels and his team are floundering and for the second time in his head coaching career, not having a Bill Belichick coached defence to lean on continues to be a major stumbling block to him winning games. 

Miami had their fourth win in a row by overcoming the Browns 17-39 as Tua Tagovailoa passed for 285 yards and three touchdowns. Their biggest contributor to the win was their ground attack and recent arrival Jeff Wilson ran for 119 rushing yards and a touchdown. 

Speaking of the winning teams, Patrick Mahomes threw for 331 yards and four touchdowns in a 27-17 triumph against the Jacksonville Jaguars. With a record of 7-2, they currently hold the best record in the AFC.

Colt McCoy started ahead of the injured Kyler Murray and led the Cardinals to a 27-17 win  over the Superbowl champion LA Rams in his 13th season in the NFL. Cooper Kupp had to leave the field with a leg injury and may miss a couple of weeks, although there is not believed to be any fracture. 

The New York Giants overcame the Texans with a comfortable win. Sequon Barkley got his sixth touchdown of the season but it was Darius Slayton, who caught the eye when he converted a terrific touchdown.

Kenny Pickens led the Steelers to victory over the Saints on a day when TJ Watt returned to the lineup. It was a poor outing for Andy Dalton, who may very well find himself back on the bench going forward. 

The Tennessee Titans handed the Denver Broncos a welcome back 10-17 loss after their recent visit to London. The game will be best remembered for a terrific flea-flicker touchdown by Tristan Westbrook-Ikhine on a busted coverage. 

Earlier yesterday afternoon, the Bucs were victorious in an entertaining affair against the Seahawks in in Munich. Here is a link to our match report with the accompanying action:

Later today, we will have a preview of the Monday Night Football contest from the NFC East as the Washington Commanders try to hand the Eagles their first loss of the season. 

Trade Analysis: TJ Hockenson 

By Conor Perrett

We have our first trade of the deadline and it’s an in-division trade with TJ Hockenson going from the bottom of the NFC North to the top with a move to the Minnesota Vikings.

TJ Hockenson stats: Position: Tight-end, Receptions – 26, Yards – 395, Average – 15.2, Touchdowns – 3, PFF Grade – 69.4

Trade Details 

Vikings Receive:

  • TJ Hockenson
  • 2023 4th-round pick
  • 2024 Conditional 4th-round pick

Lions Receive:

  • 2023 2nd-round pick
  • 2024 3rd-round pick

Vikings POV: In a rare in-division trade TJ Hockenson won’t have to travel far to Minnesota as the Vikings get themselves a great all round tight end. 

Now in his fourth season, Hockenson was highly rated coming out of college for his blocking ability, while having the talent to run routes like a reciever. In the NFL, that is where we have seen Hockenson at his best, being able to run any route in the playbook. He got to the Pro Bowl in 2019 doing it and in a pass-heavy Vikings scheme, he should be able to excel even further. 

TJ’s blocking reputation has left a lot to be desired and he has not translated to the pros from what we saw in college. Whether it’s in pass protection or run blocking, Hockenson has had a difficult time chipping edges or blocking them straight up.

All in all this trade for the Vikings improves them greatly as they run away with their division. They add a great receiver option that will give Kirk Cousins a big target in the end-zone, something he has been missing since Kyle Rudolph. 

On his day TJ can be a top-5 tight end, but he can also be very inconsistent.  With a pay day on the horizon, will the Vikings cough up that money for him?

Grade : A-

Lions POV: When former tight end Dan Campbell came into town it looked primed for the current incumbent TJ Hockenson to explode. He had just come off a break-out year and entering a rebuild, Hockenson was the only weapon Jared Goff had. 

Now the Lions have added a few new targets into their offence since then and T.J would regularly fall into the shadows. His involvement became inconsistent and Goff would turn to other receivers instead of his old top target Hockenson.

The Lions now move up to gain second and third round picks and give up two fourth round selections. 

Was it worth it? It opens another hole for this team which isn’t ideal, but entering the final year of his contract next year it seemed Hockenson wouldn’t be around for much longer anyway. He is due a new big contract and the Lions did not want to pay him that so they cashed in now for some picks.

For the Lions it means they now have five picks in the top 65 in next year’s draft and frees up some much needed cap space. The position  won’t be easy to fill in the meantime but after a 6-1 start they can take a long term view on things. 

Grade: B-