Just four days after one of the most embarrassing home losses in franchise history, the Minnesota Vikings returned to showcase an electric offense on Thanksgiving night. The Vikings won the Thanksgiving Day shootout against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots 33-26.
From the outset, this team felt motivated to come out and put together big numbers in attack as they reverted to their usual trick of scoring a touchdown in their opening possession. The Vikings put together a 10-play, 65-yard TD drive to open the game in which Justin Jefferson caught three passes for 24 yards and a touchdown.
Jefferson needed just 55 yards to surpass Randy Moss for the NFL record for most receiving yards in a player’s first three seasons. Jefferson did more than that to break the record, with nine catches for 139 yards and that opening touchdown.
After another stellar game in which the 23-year-old receiver eclipsed 100 receiving yards for the seventh time this season, no one said they had more receiving yards than Justin Jefferson in his first three NFL seasons.
The Vikings likely won’t win this game without each of those pitches, as Jefferson made big play after big play throughout the evening. That included a 36-yard connection late in the fourth quarter between Cousins and Jefferson in double coverage that should give any normal person whiplash.
One play later, the Vikings rushed Devin McCourty to double up Jefferson, and Cousins hit an open Adam Thiele for the game-winning touchdown.
Overall, it was a big step forward for the Vikings in many ways. Their run defense was stout against New England’s offense, and aside from another missed XP from Greg Joseph, the special teams played underwhelming football. Kene Nwangwu returned his third career kickoff for a touchdown and punt coverage teams didn’t allow any room to run a week after Sidney Jones’ game-winning punt return.
On the other hand, Mac Jones also played a very strong game. The Patriots QB completed 28-of-39 passes for 382 yards and a pair of TDs. Had the pass to Hunter Henry at the goal line not been called and ruled incomplete, this play could have turned out differently.
Anyway, the Minnesota Vikings improve to 9-2 on the year, while the Patriots fall to 6-5. The Vikings get a mini bye week before Week 13 when they host the New York Jets (6-4) on Sunday, Dec. 4. Meanwhile, the Patriots host the Buffalo Bills (8-3) on Thursday Night Football, so they only have a typical week off.
Josh Frey is a 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a BA in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology and Journalism. When not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account for more of his thoughts: @Freyed_Chicken.