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Vikings vs. Colts Game Observations: A Comeback for the Ages Secures NFC North

MINNEAPOLIS — The NFC North belongs to the Vikings.

Minnesota secured its first division crown five years to the day after it's most recent title by executing the largest comeback in NFL history (33 points).

The Vikings spotted the Colts 10 points, then 20, then 30, and trailed by 33 at halftime before orchestrating a furious rally that ended with a 39-36 overtime win against Indianapolis on Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The early problems included a blocked punt for a touchdown that made it 10-0 in the first quarter, a fumble by Dalvin Cook one snap after he rumbled for 40 yards, and a pick-6 that ended a horrendous sequence in the second quarter.

That 17-yard return made it 30-zip and gave the Colts their first game in franchise history with a touchdown on offense, defense and special teams.

K.J. Osborn started the rally with a 63-yard reception quickly followed by a 2-yard touchdown reception from Kirk Cousins.

Osborn finished with a career high 157 yards on 10 receptions as Minnesota aired it out in the second half and put together five touchdown drives that each lasted 3:40 or less.

Cousins finished with a career-high 460 passing yards on a 34-of-54 day. He threw four scores, was intercepted two times and ended with a passer rating of 99.3. The four touchdown passes tied his career high in a single game.

Justin Jefferson finished with 12 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown, and Adam Thielen added 41 yards and a score on three catches.

The Vikings managed to tie the game when Dalvin Cook caught a short screen pass and took it the distance for a 64-yard strike. Cousins followed with a 2-point conversion pass to T.J. Hockenson that made it 36 all with 2:15 remaining in regulation.

Minnesota won the coin toss before overtime and opted to receive. That drive stalled at the Colts 39, and the Vikings punted, pinning the ball at the 13. The Colts only advanced the ball to their 44 on their overtime possession and punted.

The Vikings drove 60 yards on six plays to set up Greg Joseph's 40-yard walk-off winner.

Minnesota somehow improved to 11-3 on the season, clinched the automatic playoff berth for winning the division and kept its grip on the No. 2 seed in the NFC Playoff standings.

The Vikings improved to 10-0 this season in one-score games and topped the previous record for largest deficit overcome (32 points by the Bills with Frank Reich, who was fired by the Colts earlier this season, against the Oilers in January 1993).

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

1. Refused to lose

So many times it would have been easy for the Vikings to throw in the towel and look ahead to next week's game.

They had a cushion over Detroit and needed one more win, a tie, or a loss or tie by Detroit to clinch the NFC North.

But the team and crowd dug deep, despite numerous setbacks, including appearing to have returned two fumbles for touchdowns by Chandon Sullivan.

Officials ruled forward progress was stopped on both plays before deciding the second had been forced out. Rather than awarding the touchdown either time, the Colts kept the ball once, and the Vikings were awarded possession at their own 46 after officials flagged Sullivan for unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of the play.

2. Statistically speaking

The Vikings racked up 518 yards of total offense and racked up 32 first downs, averaging 6.0 yards on their 86 plays.

Minnesota lost the official turnover battle 3-1 and time of possession, but still managed to make explosive plays.

It was the first time this season that Minnesota has lost the turnover battle but won the game.

View postgame celebration photos from Minnesota's comeback overtime victory over Indianapolis at U.S. Bank Stadium on Dec. 17, 2022. The Vikings (11-3) have clinched the NFC North Championship following their 39-36 win vs. the Colts.

3. Affected the passer

The Colts lost running back Jonathan Taylor early in the game. He could have helped closeout the Vikings, but instead Indianapolis entrusted Matt Ryan with some throws, and the Vikings were able to force incompletions to save time on the clock.

Minnesota was able to affect Ryan more than it had other passers in recent weeks.

They sacked him three times, led by 1.5 from Danielle Hunter, and limited him to 19-of-33 for 182 yards with one score for a passer rating of 83.1.

The Vikings limited the Colts to 20 first downs and didn't allow a single possession by Indianapolis to gain more than 31 yards in the second half, allowing just one field goal in the game's final 39:57.

4. Depth tested

There were times in the final moments when the Vikings were relying on cornerback Duke Shelley to fill in for Patrick Peterson and Kris Boyd, who had only played two snaps on defense in 2022.

Shelley proved up to the task and led Minnesota with two of its three passes defensed and came up with a key tackle shy of the sticks.

The Vikings also lost Christian Darrisaw for a bit late in the game when the left tackle was dealing with cramps. Olisaemeka Udoh filled in for Darrisaw.

View game action photos of the Week 15 matchup between the Vikings and the Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Scoring summary

Q1, 9:11 remaining

Colts 7, Vikings 0

Chase McLaughlin kicks a 26-yard field goal [11 plays, 44 yards, 5:49 time of possession]

Strong start: Dallis Flowers returned the opening kickoff 49 yards, and Indianapolis followed with an end around run by Michael Pittman, Jr., for a gain of 19, quickly advancing to the Minnesota 33-yard line.

Q1, 8:12 remaining

Colts 10, Vikings 0

JoJo Domann returns blocked punt 24 yards (McLaughlin kicks PAT)

Familiar fire: Former Viking Ifeadi Odenigbo got pressure up the middle and got past rookie Luiji Vilain, who was in for inactive Pat Jones II on his way to blocking Ryan Wright's punt.

Q1, 3:51 remaining

Colts 17, Vikings 0

Deon Jackson catches a 1-yard pass from Matt Ryan (McLaughlin kicks PAT) [7 plays, 66 yards, 3:29 time of possession]

Opportunity strikes: The Colts followed third-and-1 conversion with a run for 2 by completing a 36-yard pass to tight end Jelani Woods to the Minnesota 19.

Q2, 13:07 remaining

Colts 20, Vikings 0

McLaughlin kicks a 28-yard field goal [6 plays, 21 yards, 3:03 time of possession]

Short field again: The Colts took over at the Minnesota 31-yard line after stuffing C.J. Ham and Dalvin Cook for consecutive runs on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1.

Q2, 10:41 remaining

Colts 23, Vikings 0

McLaughlin kicks a 49-yard field goal [4 plays, 0 yards, 0:20 time of possession]

Same short field again: The Vikings gambled on a fake punt on fourth-and-1 with a pass from Wright to rookie Jalen Nailor, but it was a big high and went through Nailor's hands. Indianapolis took over at the Minnesota 31 again and again added a field goal despite not gaining any yards.

Q2, 5:50 remaining

Colts 30, Vikings 0

Julian Blackmon returns an interception 17 yards (McLaughlin kicks PAT)

Disastrous stretch: The Vikings appeared to have a fumble returned 40 yards for a touchdown by Chandon Sullivan but officials ruled that forward progress had stopped before Michael Pittman, Jr., lost the ball. The Colts wound up punting, and the Vikings took over at their own 10. Jefferson was shaken up two plays later on the snap before the interception.

Q2, 0:08 remaining

Colts 33, Vikings 0

McLaughlin kicks a 27-yard field goal [9 plays, 65 yards, 3:52 time of possession]

Slow bleed: After completing a pass to tight end Kylen Granson for 21 yards to move the ball to the Minnesota 28, Indianapolis was able to milk 1:52 of clock with runs of 5, 7, 2, 3 and 2.

Q3, 8:22 remaining

Colts 33, Vikings 7

K.J. Osborn catches a 2-yard pass from Kirk Cousins (Greg Joseph kicks PAT) [7 plays, 88 yards, 2:54 time of possession]

Down the middle: Osborn provided the key explosive play on the drive with a 63-yard reception on a ball down the middle of the field.

Q3, 4:53 remaining

Colts 36, Vikings 7

McLaughlin kicks a 52-yard field goal [6 plays, 26 yards, 3:29 time of possession]

More great field position: This drive started at the Indianapolis 40 after Flowers opted to bring the kickoff out from 8 yards deep and made good on the decision with a return of 48.

Q3, 1:13 remaining

Colts 36, Vikings 14

C.J. Ham rushes for 1 yard (Joseph kicks PAT) [8 plays, 75 yards, 3:40 time of possession]

Chunk plays: The Vikings were able to pop four different plays for gains of at least 12 during the drive. It started with a 19-yard run by Cook and a 12-yard gain on a screen pass to the running back. Justin Jefferson (18 yards) and Osborn (15) added receptions.

Q4, 12:53 remaining

Colts 36, Vikings 21

Jefferson catches an 8-yard pass from Cousins (Joseph kicks PAT) [6 plays, 61 yards, 2:14 time of possession]

Q4, 5:30 remaining

Colts 36, Vikings 28

Adam Thielen catches a 1-yard pass from Cousins (Joseph kicks PAT) [6 plays, 61 yards, 2:14 time of possession]

Q4, 2:15 remaining

Colts 36, Vikings 36

Dalvin Cook catches a screen pass from Cousins for 64 yards (Cousins 2-point conversion pass to T.J. Hockenson) [1 play, 64 yards, 0:13 time of possession]

OT 0:03 remaining

Vikings 39, Colts 36

Joseph kicks a 40-yard field goal [6 plays, 60 yards, 1:38 time of possession]