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Vikings vs. Giants Game Observations: Joseph from the Norseman's Braid in 27-24 Win

MINNEAPOLIS — Greg Joseph lined up on the flowing hair of the midfield Norseman logo, took a breath and met the ball at the back of the Norseman's braid, painted white instead of blond for Minnesota's first Winter Whiteout game.

Off it went, 61 yards and through the uprights with room to spare.

The kick which smashed a Vikings franchise record of 56 yards that Joseph tied in Week 1 gave the Vikings a 27-24 victory over the Giants on Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium, capping yet another wild finish for a Minnesota squad that improved to 12-3 and won a one-score game for the 11th time in as many chances. That win total in one-score games is a new NFL record.

Did you really think the Vikings would lower the drama for the holidays?

The Giants (8-6-1) showed why they entered the game with an 8-2-1 mark in close games by erasing a 24-16 deficit in just 59 seconds to tie the game on a 27-yard run by Saquon Barkley and 2-point conversion pass from Daniel Jones to rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger.

Minnesota answered by driving 33 yards on eight plays to give Joseph the opportunity to chase history. He caught it with the kick.

Here are four more observations presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud LASIK Partner of the Minnesota Vikings, followed by a scoring summary:

View postgame celebration photos from the Vikings Christmas Eve victory over the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium.

1. Strong 2-man game

Saturday's latest version of the two-man game for receiving targets was Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson making the most of 16 targets each.

Jefferson posted 12 catches for 133 yards with Minnesota's final touchdown of the day for a 24-16 lead in the fourth quarter.

He broke Randy Moss's single-season record for yardage (1,632 in 2003) with his first catch of the day and Cris Carter's single-season Vikings receptions record (122 in 1994 and 1995) with his final reception of the game.

That final catch picked up 17 on third-and-11 just before Josephs kick.

Hockenson broke his personal best of 10 catches with 13 on the day, which included two touchdowns. He finished with 109 yards for his third 100-yard game.

2. Turnovers turned out huge

The Vikings were able to end two Giants possessions that were driving deep into Minnesota territory with a pair of turnovers.

Rookie Brian Asamoah II forced and recovered a fumble after a catch on the first play of the second quarter. The fumble was forced at the 23.

Veteran Patrick Peterson intercepted Jones at the Minnesota 18 and returned it 11 yards to help protect a 17-13 lead with 11:42 left in the game.

3. Defense generated pressure

New York finished with 445 yards, a figure greatly boosted by execution on its final drive (seven plays for 75 yards), but the Vikings were able to affect Jones throughout the game.

Danielle Hunter totaled 2.0 sacks and four quarterback hits. Dalvin Tomlinson recorded a hit on the pass picked by Peterson. Za'Darius Smith added three quarterback hits.

D.J. Wonnum and Khyiris Tonga split sacks with Hunter.

Linebackers Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks each recorded 10 tackles and a pass defensed.

4. Cousins Cool — again

Cousins led the Vikings on another fourth quarter comeback — his eighth of 2022, which tied Matthew Stafford's record of eight in 2016.

Cousins finished 34 of 48 passing for 299 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 107.9.

He saved some of his best throws for critical moments in the fourth quarter in which he completed 12 of 18 passes for 102 yards with two of the scores and a passer rating of 118.3.

Scoring summary

Q1, 3:17 remaining

Vikings 7, Giants 0

T.J. Hockenson catches a 12-yard pass from Kirk Cousins (Greg Joseph kicks PAT) [8 plays, 84 yards, 3:50 time of possession]

History in the marching: The drive started with a 25-yard pass to Justin Jefferson on which he broke Randy Moss' single-season receiving record of 1,632. It included Dalvin Cook passing Chuck Foreman for third on Minnesota's all-time rush leaders and ended with the 248th career touchdown pass by Cousins, tying him with Tony Romo for 24th all-time.

Q2, 9:40 remaining

Vikings 10, Giants 0

Greg Joseph kicks a 40-yard field goal [10 plays, 42 yards, 5:10 time of possession]

Screen & sneak: Minnesota's longest play of the possession was a 16-yard reception for Hockenson on a tight end screen to offset some of New York's aggressiveness. Minnesota extended the possession with a sneak by Cousins on third-and-1, but the drive stalled with a sack by Azeez Ojulari on third-and-3.

Q2, 4:23 remaining

Vikings 10, Giants 7

Isaiah Hodgins catches a 7-yard pass from Daniel Jones (Graham Gano kicks PAT) [10 plays, 69 yards, 5:17 time of possession]

Rolling 7s: The touchdown pass to Hodgins was New York's sixth play of the drive that gained at least seven yards and fourth that gained exactly that.

Q3, 11:18 remaining

Vikings 10, Giants 10

Gano kicks a 44-yard field goal [plays, 69 yards, 5:17 time of possession]

To challenge or not: The Giants gained 22 yards on a pass to Darius Slayton for the only played that gained more than 10 during the possession.

Q3, 4:31 remaining

Giants 13, Vikings 10

Gano kicks a 44-yard field goal [plays, 69 yards, 5:17 time of possession]

Explosives: The Giants gained 18 on a pass to Saquon Barkley and followed with a 33-yard catch by Richie James two plays later to move into Gano's range. D.J. Wonnum and Danielle Hunter forced the kick with a sack on third-and-9 from the Minnesota 22.

Q4, 14:12 remaining

View game action photos from the Vikings Week 16 Winter Whiteout game vs. the Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Vikings 17, Giants 13

Hockenson catches a 15-yard pass from Cousins (Greg Joseph kicks PAT) [12 plays, 75 yards, 5:19 time of possession]

The most of a second chance: The possession appeared to end on its third play when a Cousins pass was ruled an interception was reviewed and overturned. Minnesota drove 55 yards after the second chance. Jefferson totaled 23 yards on three catches, and Hockenson finished the possession with a 5-yard catch just before his second TD grab.

Q4: 6:24 remaining

Vikings 17, Giants 16

Gano kicks a 55-yard field goal [6 plays, 18 yards, 2:31 time of possession]

Short field: The Giants picked up a bit of momentum and capitalized on good field possession after stopping Minnesota's effort on fourth-and-2 from the New York 44.

Q4: 3:00 remaining

Vikings 24, Giants 16

Jefferson catches a 17-yard pass from Cousins (Joseph kicks PAT) [5 plays, 29 yards, 1:02 time of possession]

Shorter field: Minnesota took over at the 29 after Josh Metellus blocked a punt by Jamie Gillan and New York was unable to advance the recovery beyond the line to gain.

Q4: 2:01 remaining

Vikings 24, Giants 24

Barkley rushes for a 27-yard touchdown (2-point conversion pass from Jones to Daniel Bellinger) [7 plays, 75 yards, 0:59 time of possession]

Up the gut: Barkley was able to find a large opening as defenders appeared to get caught in traffic and hit the after burners for the score on fourth-and-2.

Q4, 0:00 remaining

Vikings 27, Giants 24

Joseph kicks a 61-yard field goal [8 plays, 33 yards, 2:01 time of possession]

Critical conversion: Minnesota picked up a third-and-11 with a 17-yard gain on a screen pass to Jefferson before spiking the ball to stop the clock with four seconds remaining.

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