The Minnesota Vikings sleepwalked through the first half against the Denver Broncos, but a second-half flurry erased a 20-point deficit in a 27-23 victory.
The Minnesota Vikings came into their Week 11 game with the Denver Broncos with a pretty good feeling of how the game would turn out. Although they were down four starters, the Broncos had struggled all season long and with the 28th ranked offense coming into U.S. Bank Stadium, it seemed like a given the Vikings would cruise into their bye with another victory.
But then again, the Vikings love to make things interesting. After a first half that invoked memories of the Vikings’ meltdown against the Buffalo Bills, Minnesota overcame a 20-point deficit at halftime to escape with a 27-23 win over the Broncos on Sunday afternoon.
The Vikings were able to get the win but based on their first-half performance, they had no business doing so. Dalvin Cook was bottled up for 9 yards on four carries in the first 30 minutes and the Broncos were able to use aggressive playcalling to stun the Vikings secondary.
After Noah Fant snuck by the Vikings defense for a big gain early, the Broncos got a field goal from Brandon McManus to open the scoring. From there, the Vikings just couldn’t get going as the Broncos expanded their lead with a Brandon Allen touchdown to Troy Fumagalli and an Andy Janovich touchdown run.
With another McManus field goal, the Broncos took a 20-0 lead into the half which seemed like the Vikings were having their annual meltdown game under Mike Zimmer. In fact, the game seemed to be over as no team over the past five seasons had overcome a deficit of 20 points or more at halftime, compiling an 0-99 record.
However, the Vikings got to work coming out of the locker room and Kirk Cousins was a big part of it. Cousins found Irv Smith Jr. for his first NFL touchdown to chip into the lead and after holding the Broncos to another McManus field goal, Minnesota scored again on their next drive with a sweep to Dalvin Cook to cut the lead to 23-13 after a failed two-point conversion.
With the Vikings’ defense bending but not breaking, Minnesota scored on their third straight possession to open the half, with Cousins finding Stefon Diggs for a 54-yard bomb that whittled the lead down to a single possession at 23-20.
The Broncos responded by driving into field goal range, but McManus missed his first field goal of the afternoon, missing wide right from 43 yards to open the door for the Vikings. Cousins was the one to step up again, finding Kyle Rudolph for a 32-yard catch and run into the end zone to give the Vikings a 27-23 lead with 6:01 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Things got tense at the end as the Broncos unleashed a 19-play, 56-yard drive in an attempt to get the game-winning touchdown, but Jayron Kearse kept a potential buzzer-beating touchdown pass away from Fant on the final play to give the Vikings the win.
The Minnesota Vikings improve to 8-3 with the win and should be looking forward to their bye next week. In addition to the win, both Harrison Smith (hamstring) and Cook were banged up during the contest meaning a week to recover will be huge in advance of a key NFC playoff showdown with the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 2.