Viking hold on for 27-22 win over Jets
Camryn Bynum interception with 10 seconds left ends New York’s comeback bid
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings have had plenty of practice in down-to-the-wire finishes. It continues to pay off.
Minnesota has played nine one-score games this season and won them all. The latest was a 27-22 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings led by 17 points in the second quarter, and by 12 points in the fourth quarter, yet the game was in doubt until Camryn Bynum intercepted a pass near the goal line with 10 seconds remaining.
On the Jets’ previous possession, Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios dropped a fourth-down pass in the end zone with 1:43 left.
“I think it gives us confidence when these moments do arise that nobody has a doubt that we’re going to win the game,” Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks said. “So, (experience) does help.”
The Vikings (10-2) did not clinch the NFC North because the Detroit Lions (5-7) defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 40-14 Sunday at home. But the Vikings can clinch the division with a win or a tie next Sunday at Detroit.
Trailing 27-22 in the fourth quarter, the Jets (7-5) had a first-and-goal at the Vikings’ 4-yard line, but the drive ended when Berrios’ dropped a perfect pass from Mike White in the end zone on fourth-and-1.
“I just have to make the play,” Berrios said.
After the Vikings went three-and-out, the Jets got the ball back and moved to a first-and-10 at the Vikings’ 19 with under 40 seconds remaining. But White threw three incompletions before Bynum intercepted a fourth-down pass and slid to the turf to seal the win.
“That’s what we live for, every single week, knowing that this game might come down to (the defense) and that’s how we want it,” Bynum said. “We want the game to be in our hands and we know we’re going to close the game.”
One difference from previous close games was it looked as if the Vikings finally might put a foe away early for the first time since defeating Green Bay 23-7 in the regular-season opener. Minnesota took a lead of 20-3 in the second quarter before Greg Zuerlein’s 60-yard field goal cut the deficit to 20-6 at halftime. It was the second of Zuerlein’s five field goals on the day.
The Vikings’ offense then went into sleep mode. After getting touchdowns in the second quarter on a four-yard run by Dalvin Cook and a 14-yard run by Alexander Mattison, Minnesota didn’t score again until midway through the fourth quarter.
“We did not want to make a critical error that would allow them to completely grasp the momentum in the game,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said. “But we would love to avoid that third-quarter lull, and that’s something I’ve got to take a long look at.”
The Vikings finally got a 10-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to an open Justin Jefferson on the right side of the end zone with 8:33 left in the game to go up 27-15.
“It was great to hit that one,” Cousins said. “I think it was what we needed.”
Cousins completed 21 of 35 passes for 173 yards and the one touchdown. Although he only was sacked twice, he was under heavy pressure throughout the game.
Jefferson attracted good coverage from Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and others and finished with seven catches for just 45 yards. Cook led the Vikings in rushing with 86 yards on 20 carries, but had just 30 yards in the second half.
“We just need to have a better second half, having that same energy, that same juice that we had in the first half,” Jefferson said.
The Vikings were outgained 486-287, including 336-89 in the second half. White completed 31 of 57 passes for 369 yards, and rookie receiver Garrett Wilson had eight catches for 162 yards.
But the Vikings made plays on defense when needed. Safety Harrison Smith ended the Jets’ opening drive with an interception, which led to a Greg Joseph field goal, and Bynum then clinched the win with his pick.
New York was just 1 for 6 in the red zone. On their only touchdown, the Jets needed to use a coach’s challenge to get it. With 6:45 remaining, a White sneak on fourth-and-goal from the 1 was initially ruled a stop before a replay determined he did cross the goal line.
Other than that, the Vikings rose up when the Jets got into the red zone.
“We live to be in those big moments,” linebacker Eric Kendricks said. “And we come up big, too, in those big moments like you saw (Sunday).”
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