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Vikings Defense Fights for Football & Finds it Against Saints

LONDON — The colossal man hug shared by Dalvin Tomlinson and Harrison Phillips showed the joy when big men get their hands on footballs.

It stemmed from a fumble that Tomlinson forced and Phillips recovered at the New Orleans 20-yard line with 56 seconds left in the first half.

And the takeaway positioned Minnesota to add three points as the first half ended, which loomed particularly large in the Vikings 28-25 victory over the Saints Sunday at Tottenham Stadium.

"It's kind of a flash at this point," Tomlinson said. "I was at the 3-tech, and I saw the end come underneath. I was like, 'OK, I've got to get out and cover him.' As soon as I got out, I saw them flush [Saints QB] Andy Dalton out, and I was right there waiting for him.

"I hit him as he was going down, and as he was going down, I just tried to rake at the ball and it came out right before he went down," Tomlinson added. "When we were on the ground, I saw Harrison Phillips right there, and I was trying to push the ball to him. We all just got up and celebrated. It was a great play."

The field goal by Greg Joseph was one of five during the game. He put Minnesota ahead with what became the final points by kicking a 47-yarder through the uprights with 24 seconds.

The Vikings defense continues to be about the football — and getting the stop exactly when needed.

Sure, Minnesota yielded 256 yards in the second half, and the Saints 11 points in the final 15 minutes were the first allowed in a fourth quarter. 

But after Dalton ripped a 32-yard pass down the middle of the field to Chris Olave with 12 seconds remaining, the Vikings forced two incompletions to make Wil Lutz attempt a 61-yard field goal with two seconds remaining.

Lutz had earlier netted a 60-yarder with room to spare, but this one faded just enough to hit the left upright, bounce off the crossbar and land in the end zone.

Double doinkers. Whew.

The Vikings didn't allow the Saints past the Minnesota 42-yard line in the game's final 4:15.

Lutz's 60-yarder followed a stop by the Vikings defense at its 42-yard line. Harrison Smith limited the first-down play to a gain of 1. Cameron Dantzler, Sr., followed with an impressive pass breakup on second-and-9. Minnesota brought pressure with Smith on third down to force Dalton to get rid of the ball before he wanted.

View action photos from the Week 4 Vikings-Saints game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Oct. 2.

Dantzler was credited with three pass breakups, and Patrick Peterson added two more.

"Loved it. Loved it. A great play at a key moment in the game," Peterson said of Dantzler's final pass breakup. "He played it great, face guarded him, understood the ball was being thrown over his shoulder, found it late and then had to fight through the receiver to get the ball out. Unbelievable play.

"Cam had probably one of his better games since we've been playing together this year," Peterson said. "I'm just excited to see him continue to grow."

Dalton played fast throughout the game, only taking two sacks and forcing the Vikings to be selective on when they pressured the veteran.

"With him getting the ball out as fast as he is, we just have to try to get pressure up the middle to make him hold it down and take a second look because he might have some people in his face," Tomlinson said. "It has to be the right moment to take that shot."

Eric Kendricks, who left briefly but returned after getting hit in the nose for a second week in a row, was presented a game ball by Head Coach Kevin O'Connell. Kendricks pointed credit toward Dalton for the game he played, his third season in a row of facing the Vikings as a backup QB.

"He can attack any game plan; he knows what he's doing," Kendricks said. "He's been in every situation there is in football. Knows where his guys are, targets are, guys on the field; he can read coverages. I've played against him numerous times, and he's a good player."

Kendricks said the Vikings were able to learn more about themselves by emerging from the challenge.

"It's huge, you know, obviously across the league you have people figuring out their rosters, their team and their identity, including us, and it's good to know that when our back is against the wall when it's a tight game like this, we're on the road in London, we can pull through and guys are confident in that as well," Kendricks said.