Two teams heading in opposite directions squared off in Minneapolis on Sunday. The 3-6 Denver Broncos met the red hot 7-3 Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota looked to stay perfect at home this season and keep pace with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. Star wideout Adam Thielen was held out of this contest with a hamstring injury he first suffered against Detroit. Additionally, defensive tackle Linval Joseph and safety Anthony Harris also missed this game for the Vikings. Meanwhile, the Broncos aimed to climb from the basement of the AFC West standings. Denver turned to Brandon Allen at quarterback for a second straight week, as Joe Flacco nursed an injured neck.
Vikings Early Struggles
Surprisingly, the Denver Broncos struck first in this contest. Brandon McManus capped their opening drive with a 47-yard field goal giving the Broncos a 3-0 lead. The Vikings’ first two drives went nowhere, as they were forced to punt on both possessions. Later in the first, Denver scored the game’s first touchdown. Brandon Allen hooked up with tight end Troy Fumagalli for a 3-yard score. This reception for Fumagalli was just his third of the season, and it gave Denver an early 10-0 lead. However, the Broncos were far from finished. Fullback Andy Janovich dove into the endzone for a 1-yard score early in the second quarter. This gave the underdog Broncos a commanding 17-0 lead.
After Denver added another field goal, Ameer Abdullah fumbled the kickoff for Minnesota. The Broncos had a chance to extend their lead to 27 points, but QB Brandon Allen was quickly intercepted on his next pass attempt. The Vikings has one last opportunity to score in the half, but their offense could not even cross midfield. Kirk Cousins finished the half with an abysmal 58 passing yards. Likewise, superstar running back Dalvin Cook was held to 9 rushing yards on 4 carries. The Broncos took a stunning 20-0 lead into the locker room.
Minnesota looked like a new offense at the start of the third quarter. Kirk Cousins hit Stefon Diggs for a 44 yard gain, which set the Vikings up in the red zone. From there, Cousins tossed a 10 yard TD pass to rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr, finally putting Minnesota on the scoreboard. Denver still leads 20-7. Though, Denver would add yet another field goal. This time it was a 41 yarder from Brandon McManus. The Broncos upped the lead to 23-7 and took this lead into the fourth quarter.
Minnesota wouldn’t back down, as they finished off a touchdown drive just 90 seconds into the fourth quarter. Dalvin Cook took a handoff for three yards into the end zone making the game 23-13. However, Minnesota’s two-point conversion attempt failed, keeping the game at that score. Denver’s next possession ended quickly, and Minnesota once again got the ball back. Cousins wasted no time cutting further into the Denver lead. He aired it out to Stefon Diggs for a 54-yard touchdown strike. Suddenly, a 20-0 halftime lead was now just three for Denver. After a Denver field goal, Kirk Cousins completed the second-half hat trick by tossing his third touchdown. Minnesota now held a 27-23 lead with 6 minutes left in the game
Broncos Final Drive
Brandon Allen and the Denver offense had one chance remaining to regain the lead. The Broncos’ offense used up all of the clock left in the game. It all came down to one final play, which Denver ran from the Minnesota 4 yard line. Brandon Allen’s final pass attempt of the day was thrown wide of tight end Noah Fant, sealing the victory for Minnesota. The Broncos coughed up a 20-0 halftime lead, and the Vikings stormed back for a 27-23 win.
What would have been a stunning loss at home, turned into a sigh of relief for the Minnesota Vikings. It was a tale of two halves, but Minnesota played their best football after the intermission. Dalvin Cook was a disappointment, but Cousins, Diggs, and the defense all shined in the second half for the Vikings. The Broncos now head to Buffalo for a tough matchup with the (7-3) Buffalo Bills. Meanwhile, the Vikings improved their record to (8-3) as they head into their bye week. After the bye, a critical showdown with the Seahawks awaits.
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