Thursday Night Football


Will Schiffler

Throughout Kirk Cousins’ career, he has been known for not performing in primetime games, especially in a Minnesota Vikings uniform. Thursday night, Kirk was able to conduct an impressive performance on the offensive side of the ball despite not having Adam Thielen due to an ankle sprain the prior week. 

Minnesota saw Dalvin Cook return against the Pittsburgh Steelers after a shoulder injury that held him out against the Detroit Lions. Minnesota started the game red hot but held a field goal attempt that Greg Joseph did not convert. The Steelers shortly after missed a field goal that allowed Minnesota to get the ball back with the score zero to zero. 

Minnesota took the first half by scoring 23 unanswered points. Minnesota’s first comfortable lead, and Pittsburgh looked defeated on both sides of the ball. Dalvin Cook scored two of the three touchdowns on runs, while second-year player Justin Jefferson scored the first touchdown on a 14-yard pass from Kirk. 

Minnesota opened the second half with consecutive field goals to extend their lead to 29, but the Vikings made the game go down to the wire again. After a ten-play 75-yard touchdown by the Steelers offense, the first play of the Vikings drive resulted in a Kirk Cousins interception intended for Justin Jefferson. The Steelers would convert again to cut the lead to a 15 point game. Ben Rothlisberger got the ball back after a three and out by the offense to try and cut the Vikings lead to only one touchdown. Rothlisberger marched down the field and converted the third Steelers touchdown of the half.

Minnesota got the ball back, and it was time for Kirk Cousins to lead his offense to a score to make the game out of reach for Pittsburgh. Cousins did just that; a three-play 75-yard drive resulting in a K.J. Osborn touchdown expanded their lead to 16 points. 

The Vikings got the ball back again, this time with just over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, and all they needed to do was burn up some clock. Cousins passed the ball on third and short and made a poor read resulting in an interception with the pass intended for Osborn. Pittsburgh started with the ball on Minnesota’s 21-yard line. 

Rothlisberger put together a quick drive that resulted in a 15-yard touchdown and a successful two-point conversion to cut the lead to eight points once again. Minnesota got the ball back with just over four minutes remaining in the game and needed a couple of first downs to take the knee downs and get the Primetime win. The offense could not convert, resulting in a punt and giving it back to the Steelers offense. 

With two remaining in the fourth quarter, Rothlisberger had the ball in his hands to tie the game up and force overtime. Minnesota’s defense was not looking great for the final drive of the fourth quarter, and Rothlisberger had three seconds remaining and 12-yards to go to score a touchdown. Minnesota’s All-Pro safety Harrison Smith made the game-winning stop in the endzone that may have saved Mike Zimmer his job again. 

Minnesota escaped the Thursday Night Football matchup with an eight-point victory in front of an excited and nervous crowd with playoff hopes still alive. Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook both looked impressive on the offensive side of the ball, with some critical plays made by receiver K.J. Osborn. Kirk Cousins threw for 216-yards and two touchdown passes while Dalvin Cook ran for 205 yards and two touchdowns. 

On defense, there were five sacks from five different players. Bashaud Breeland intercepted a Ben Rothlisberger pass, and the Vikings will remain in the playoff hunt with a six and seven record. 

Minnesota will head on the road to Chicago to play the Bears on Monday night in a must-win scenario if they want to get their record back to .500. The remaining schedule for the Vikings includes, away at Chicago, home against the Los Angeles Rams, away at Green Bay, and back home against the Chicago Bears. The Vikings will need another big performance out of the offense to get back on track and make a run for the postseason.