Have you ever taken a picture of something breathtaking in nature and immediately felt like the picture nowhere near did the scenery justice? This is how I feel after the Vikings’ unbelievable win in Week Ten against the Buffalo Bills. In a game full of incredible plays, here are five moments I will remember for the rest of my life.
Moment Number One: Justin Jefferson Makes The Catch Of A Lifetime
You know which one I’m talking about, but let’s take one more look, just because it still gives me goosebumps.
I would have been impressed seeing this catch at a Vikings’ practice, but it is straight-up absurd to make this play to keep your team alive in a game. I referenced his game against the Chargers in a player spotlight I did earlier this season, and he continues to prove he is as talented as he is clutch.
I wanted a back-and-forth shootout between Jefferson and Diggs, and they both delivered. However, our guy Justin Jefferson one-upped Stefon Diggs. I do not know if I’ll ever witness a catch like this one again, so I will burn this one into memory.
Moment Number Two: Vikings Fumble-Recovery Touchdown
Another play added to the list of things I will most likely never see again is the Eric Kendricks fumble-recovery touchdown that gave the Vikings the lead with 47 seconds left on the game clock. When Vikings fans thought all was lost after Kirk Cousins was stopped just inches short of a touchdown, Josh Allen fumbled the snap on the ensuing drive, and Eric Kendricks came up with the recovery.
The hindsight analysis on this play was crazy to me, as the announcers started to consider whether or not the right play would have been for the Bills to take the safety and try to close the game out on defense. However, executing a quarterback sneak is one of the easiest plays for an offense to run. The Vikings had one timeout remaining, so two “fall forwards” by Josh Allen would have iced the game. The probability of the Vikings scoring on this play had to have been as low as possible and that is why this play will go down forever as one of the more miraculous plays in Vikings’ lore.
Moment Number Three: Patrick Peterson’s Two Interceptions
As my colleague Eli mentioned in his 10 takeaways from the game, Patrick Peterson’s veteran presence has been a huge boon to this defense. While he has shown some signs of slowing down, he can still be counted upon for big plays and for being in the right spot and at the right time.
His play against the Bills was representative of a Vikings’ defensive unit that is a picture of resiliency. I have used the cliche, “bend, don’t break” too many times to describe this defense. I continue to see the heart they play with week-in, week-out, and I now will call this unit resilient at the highest level. Peterson’s game-sealing INT will be an image in my brain forever, and it will always remind me of how I jumped up and down like a small child when it happened.
Moment Number Four: Duke Shelley’s Pass Break-up
Let’s not forget that practice squad call-up Duke Shelley also preserved the victory for us on Sunday.
I’ll admit I hadn’t heard of him before Sunday, but in overtime, he broke up this pass from Josh Allen to Dawson Knox. I know he is a professional, but to only be in for a few snaps, in a huge game like this, and to make this play? EPIC! Duke has ice in his veins for sure, and he deserves to be commended for his brief, yet ultra-important presence in the Vikings’ victory on Sunday. I am not sure what his contributions will look like going forward, but I know I’ll always remember him for this one.
Moment Number Five: Kirk Cousins’ Throws
I could not find a specific tweet of the throw I wanted, but the entire highlight video is worth your time, so enjoy. Kirk was an absolute gamer on Sunday, and while he wasn’t perfect, he played to win, and win he did.
His interceptions were inexplicably bad throws, but then he had throws where he hung in the pocket, took big hits, and delivered dimes down the field. On some of his passes, it didn’t even seem as if they had enough zip to get to a receiver, let alone be a completion. And yet, he always found a way to give our receivers a chance to make a play. He has not been lights out this season in general, but he is responding to adversity in a way that winners do, and against the Bills, I will remember Cousins for playing a very good game.
Honorable Memory (Mention): Gabriel Davis’ Big “Catch”
I almost included it as one of my memories, because I was so infuriated that the play wasn’t reviewed.
But because the Vikings won, the positive plays hit home stronger. Gabe Davis is a great player, but this was not a great catch. It was not even a catch, and it was a 20-yard completion that brought the Bills into game-tying field goal range. This play has to be reviewed, and I will be reviewing it in my mind for years to come.
Honorable Memory (Mention): Dalvin Cook’s 81-yard TD Run
With the Vikings down 27-10 late in the third, the offense needed a spark. Dalvin Cook ran behind a key block by Justin Jefferson (because Jefferson can do everything), and showed he still has the speed to break open huge plays.
Cook has been effective all year, but not necessarily dominant. Regardless, he is still one of the key playmakers on this offense, and he is the perfect complement to this passing attack.
Three Final Notes
The Vikings continue to reap the benefits of the T.J. Hockenson trade, as he added another seven catches to his statistics as a Viking. Further, he has already become a super-reliable target for Cousins over the middle and converted a huge fourth and six late in the game.
Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith each recorded a sack, and on one play, actually met at the quarterback. These two continue to be the force this defense needs to compete against the other contending teams in this league, and they made some big plays and pressures against the Bills.
Greg Joseph missed another extra point, and it was at another crucial time. With 4:34 left on the game clock, the Vikings should have trailed by just three, but Greg hit the upright head-on. I don’t know who needs to help him fix this, but we can’t have this in the playoffs, and I don’t know what else to do besides name it.
I Lied; One More Mention
C.J. Ham scored a touchdown. I just wanted to give him a shout-out because he is still a contributor to this team. He only played on eight percent of the offensive snaps against the Bills, but there is something to be said for being ready when your number is called. He also played on 64% of the special teams’ snaps, so he is doing work, just not a lot of noticeable things.
The Vikings host the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday in the afternoon slate, and I will be looking for more vivid memories as this magical season continues. We can’t predict the future, but this team has a shot to do more great things, so let’s enjoy the ride, and how about a big SKOL for reaching 8-1!