Greg Joseph wins it for MinnesotaImage: Getty Images
The silence at US Bank Stadium on Saturday afternoon was deafening. Home team Minnesota Vikings came into play with a 10-3 record and led the San Francisco 49ers by half a game to take second place in the NFC. Their opponent was the Indianapolis Colts, who became the laughing stock of the NFL earlier this year when they fired head coach Frank Reich and replaced him with the incredibly inexperienced Jeff Saturday. While the Colts didn’t falter after Saturday came on board, they hadn’t impressed either. With Saturday at the top, the Colts were 1-3, elevating their season record to 4-8-1. With that knowledge alone, this should have been an easy win for the Vikes.
However, after a string of failed fourth down conversions, blocked punts, defensive touchdowns, and other miscellaneous turnovers, Vikings fans were left wondering whether or not to head to the parking lot. It was 33:0 at half time. Not even the Minnesota Timberwolves have fallen that far halfway through the season. For context, the greatest comeback in NFL history was 32 points — a 41-38 overtime win for the Buffalo Bills over the Houston Oilers in the 1992-93 NFL playoffs. This comeback – developed by ex-Colts trainer Frank Reich – became known as the Circle the Wagons game. I’m not sure anyone thought a comeback like this would happen again.
The second half started with more of the same, a three-and-out by Minnesota that went -8 yards overall. After that, however, the Vikings started to get things going. They scored touchdowns on three straight offensive possessions and spent just 8:48 with the ball on all those possessions together. They scored quickly and more importantly the defense eventually stopped the Colts and only allowed three points in the second half and the only reason the Colts got those points was a 48-yard kickoff return from Colt’s Returnee Dallis Flowers. The Colts’ shot on goal went a measly 26 yards, but that was enough for kicker Chase McLaughlin to increase his team’s total.
This did not deter the Vikings, however. Nothing could. Cousins throws an interception? The Vikings’ defense is strong and the offense scores a touchdown on their next possession. sales down? Cousins rebounded with a one-play touchdown drive for 64 yards that was crowned with a two-point conversion to TJ Hockenson, the result that would eventually send the game into overtime. In overtime, Minnesota kicker Greg Joseph put the game on hold with a 40-yard field goal after both teams delivered unconvincing drives, and the city of Minneapolis achieved its second miracle in five years.
The mental strength of this Viking team is incredible. I don’t know what was said at halftime, but it must have been the most iconic speech of all time. By the end of the first half, the Vikings’ touchline was dead. People had their heads bowed in defeat. The offensive stars didn’t even react when their defense made big plays. You were done. I wouldn’t have been shocked if the Vikings had waved the white flag and come out in the second half with Nick Mullens down the middle.
But by George, the Vikings came out with renewed energy and made the impossible possible. I don’t know what the odds were on a Vikings Moneyline live bet at half time, but I’m sure there’s a very rich, lucky man out there somewhere. I may not be rich after this game, but I can’t help but smile at the sight. We just witnessed the story. I hope you didn’t turn off your TV after the first half.