Vikings prove they’re for real in instant classic vs. Bills, plus Joel Embiid goes off for 59 points
Good morning to everyone but especially to…
Oh. My. Goodness. The Minnesota Vikings and the Buffalo Bills played one of the most entertaining football games I’ve ever seen on Sunday. I’ll try to put it together coherently. Oh yeah, the Vikings won 33-30.
- Halfway through the fourth quarter, Kirk Cousins drove Minnesota down the field, and C.J. Ham scored a touchdown. Greg Joseph missed the extra point, though, and it would loom large. 27-23, Bills.
- Shortly thereafter, Cousins led another long drive, aided by maybe the best catch I’ve ever seen by Justin Jefferson on 4th-and-18. Yes, it was so good I’m going to link to it again.
- And again.
- On 4th-and-goal with under a minute left, Cousins came up inches short on a quarterback sneak.
- Allen, needing only to get out of his own end zone, fumbled the snap, and Eric Kendricks picked it up for a Vikings touchdown. 30-27, Vikings.
- But Allen led a controversial 39-second, 69-yard drive, and Tyler Bass nailed a field goal to force overtime.
- Joseph made a go-ahead field goal on the first drive of overtime, and Allen threw an interception to Patrick Peterson to seal the game.
The Vikings had this game won. Then the Bills did. Then the Vikings did. Then the Bills did. Then the Vikings did… for real. There were more crazy plays than I can count, but these five were the craziest.
Let’s zoom out big-picture and talk about what this means for the Vikings. Entering Sunday, they had defeated one team currently with a winning record: the Dolphins, who started third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson. I’m a huge proponent of all wins are good wins — you can only play who’s on your schedule, after all — but this was a great, great win over arguably the best team in the league. Oh, and entering Sunday, the Vikings had lost 50 straight games when they trailed by double digits in the final five minutes.
Add it all up and the Vikings earned an A- in our weekly grades. More important: they’ve won seven straight, they lead the NFC North by 4.5 games and proved they can play with — and beat — anyone.
- Bronny and Bryce James impressed in a high school dunk contest.
- Tony Finau won the Houston Open, his third win in his last seven starts.
- Alex Pereira knocked out Israel Adesanya to become the new UFC middleweight champion.
And not such a good morning for…
THE BUFFALO BILLS
The Buffalo Bills are a very, very good football team. Josh Allen is a very, very good football player. The issues they are having — Allen in particular — are concerning. The first interception he threw Sunday came from a strange decision. Leading 27-17, the Bills went for the knockout punch, facing 4th-and-2 at the Minnesota 7 yard-line. Allen had nowhere to go, and the throw was worth trying, since taking a sack wouldn’t have helped either.
But the fumble in the end zone was shockingly bad. The game was, for all intents and purposes, over. Basic stuff went catastrophically wrong. Both Allen and center Mitch Morse blamed themselves postgame. Then there’s the game-ending interception, which was a forced pass by Allen when nothing needed to be forced — hero ball gone wrong. A lot has gone wrong of late for him:
- Allen has an NFL-high 13 turnovers.
- Seven of them have come in the last three games.
- For the first time in his career, he’s had multiple turnovers in three straight games.
- He has a red-zone turnover in four straight games.
No matter how much talent you have, mistakes like Allen’s on Sunday quickly turn wins into losses. With a supercharged arm, legs that can make something out of nothing and a bruising 6’5″ 237-pound frame, Allen can do everything. That ability — plus his aggressive play style — leads to plenty of jaw-dropping plays, but plenty of head-scratchers, too.
For much of this season, Allen has reined in the latter, and his ability to produce the former has made him a potential MVP. But the head-scratchers still pop up from time to time. In fact, he had six turnovers in a three-game stretch in the middle of last season, including three in a 9-6 loss to the lowly Jaguars. Let’s not pin this all on Allen, though. The Buffalo defense — supposed to be a unit that closes out games — allowed the following on its last four drives (not counting a kneel down):
- 1 play, 81 yards, touchdown
- 13 plays, 66 yards, touchdown
- 12 plays, 75 yards, stop at 1-yard line
- 12 plays, 60 yards, field goal
Allen will be fine (our NFL expert Jeff Kerr says so, too). The Bills — who suddenly find themselves 6-3 and third in the AFC East — will be fine. But that doesn’t make Sunday’s collapse any better.
Not so honorable mentions
The Football Five 🏈
- The 49ers defense shut out the Chargers in the second half, and Talanoa Hufanga had the game-clinching pick in a 22-16 win.
- The Packers rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and saved their season with a 31-28 overtime win over the Cowboys. Christian Watson had 107 receiving yards and three touchdowns. The Cowboys, meanwhile, were on the wrong end of history.
- Jeff Saturday‘s surprising hiring is so far, so good. The Colts beat the Raiders, 25-20. Saturday reinstalled Matt Ryan as the starting quarterback, and Jonathan Taylor had 157 rushing yards.
- The Saquon Barkley show — 36 touches, 160 yards, one touchdown — was in full effect as the Giants beat the Texans, 24-16.
- The Buccaneers won the first NFL game in Germany, beating the Seahawks, 21-16, despite this hilariously horrible interception in which Tom Brady was… the intended receiver(?!)
College football recap: Oregon shocked, undefeated teams stay perfect 🏈
All four undefeated FBS teams won this weekend, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t madness elsewhere in college football.
Oregon blew a late lead in a 37-34 loss to Washington, crushing the Ducks’ playoffs hopes. Oregon was No. 6 in the most recent College Football Playoff Rankings, but with their second loss of the season, any chance of playing for a national title is gone.
Speaking of undefeated teams…
The Horned Frogs were big winners this weekend, writes Shehan Jeyarajah.
- Jeyarajah: “The CFP committee complained that the Frogs only won games with high-powered offense. Every concern was put to rest .. The Frogs held Texas without an offensive touchdown and suffocated star running back Bijan Robinson to march past the Longhorns on their home field. With the strong performance, there should be no questions left about TCU’s ability to compete at a high level or win in different ways.“
As for everything else:
Joel Embiid explodes for 59 points; Darius Garland scores 51 🔥
On Sunday afternoon, Darius Garland scored 51 points, the most by any player in a game this season. He held that title for just a few hours, because Sunday night, Joel Embiid scored 59 of his own.
- Garland’s career high came in a 129-124 loss to the Timberwolves. He scored 27 in the fourth quarter alone.
- Garland joins LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Walt Wesley as the only Cavaliers to hit the 50-point mark.
- Embiid’s 59 was also a career high, and his came in a win: 105-98 over the Jazz.
Our NBA reporter Michael Kaskey-Blomain was on hand for Embiid’s dominance.
- Kaskey-Blomain: “His final numbers against Utah looked like a 2K stat line with the game set on Rookie difficulty… In the process, Embiid became the first player in NBA history to have 50 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five blocks in a game. When Embiid plays like he did against Atlanta and Utah, he’s as dominant as any player in the league.“
Odell Beckham Jr. watch: Who’s interested, and when? 👀
Odell Beckham Jr. turned 30 earlier this month, but he’s still waiting on one more birthday present: a new NFL team. Interest in the star wide receiver is picking up, writes our NFL insider Jonathan Johnson:
- The Cowboys, Bills, Giants, Chiefs, Rams and Packers are the top potential suitors.
- Beckham wants a multi-year contract on a contender and would prefer warm weather and a big market.
Beckham tore the ACL in his left knee in Super Bowl LVI — the second time in under two years he’d suffered that injury in that knee. He’s at or very near the end of his recovery and is reportedly aiming for an early December return. One team believes Beckham will be signed within the next week or two, and another anticipated a Week 14 or 15 debut.
What we’re watching Monday 📺
🏀 No. 3 Texas at No. 6 UConn, 7 p.m. on FS1
🏀 No. 11 Indiana at No. 5 Tennessee, 7 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 Thunder at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. on NBA TV
🏈 Commanders at Eagles, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN