MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings defense dominated for much of the first half, allowed some big plays in the second but came up with back-to-back stops in the red zone to help Minnesota outlast the New York Jets 27-22 Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Camryn Bynum picked off Mike White with 10 seconds remaining on a fourth-and-10 from the Minnesota 19 yard line.
He returned the pass intended for Corey Davis 5 yards before sliding at the 6 and bringing Minnesota's offense onto the field for one snap from the victory formation.
The Vikings (10-2) conquered a ninth foe in a one-score game this season by clamping down on Gang Green in the red zone.
Minnesota limited New York (7-5) to just one touchdown on six trips inside the Vikings 20-yard line.
New York had two shots at taking the lead inside the 2-minute warning.
Facing first-and-goal from the 4, Zonovan Wilson was tackled after a gain of 3 before he was stuffed for no gain on second down. The Jets tried a fade to Garrett Wilson, but Chandon Sullivan jammed him at the line of scrimmage, and the ball fell harmlessly incomplete.
On fourth-and-goal, White tried to hit a sidearm pass to shifty Braxton Berrios, but linebacker Jordan Hicks got his hand in the way, disrupting Berrios from securing the catch.
The Vikings were unable to move the chains, punting with 1:30 remaining. The Jets took over at the Minnesota 43 with 1:19 remaining and moved to the 19 after passes of 6 and 18 yards, but the Vikings forced three consecutive incompletions before the Bynum interception.
Bynum also tipped a pass earlier in the game that Harrison Smith corralled for his 34th career interception and second in as many games against the Jets. Smith improved to 3-0 all-time against the Jets, which is saying a lot considering the Vikings are just 4-8 all-time against the franchise.
Minnesota needed a win or tie and a loss by Detroit to secure the NFC North, but the Lions defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars. Detroit will host Minnesota next week.
Here are four more observations presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud LASIK Partner of the Minnesota Vikings, followed by a scoring summary:
1. Cousins survives "off day"
Kirk Cousins took a pummeling from an active Jets front that recorded two sacks and nine quarterback hits.
There were other times, though, when he hunched over in disappointment after missing throws that were there to be made.
The most glaring was overshooting T.J. Hockenson, who had steps on the defender, by multiple yards in the third quarter.
Cousins started 0-for-5, tying his worst career start to a game. He finished 21-of-35 with 173 yards and a 10-yard touchdown to Justin Jefferson that helped him reach a passer rating of 82.2 on the day.
Jalen Reagor wound up making a nice play on the ball down the field for a 38-yard reception that was Minnesota's longest pass play of the day.
Jefferson led the Viking with seven receptions for 45 yards and put Minnesota up 27-15 with 8:33 remaining in the fourth quarter.
2. Disruptive defense
Welcome back, Dalvin Tomlinson.
The Vikings had missed the big fella. While his stat line will show two tackles and two quarterback hits, Tomlinson's yellow-painted hands left fingerprints all over Minnesota's disruption of White, who was sacked by Pat Jones II and hit eight times.
Minnesota pressured White and got him off his spots. He threw for 369 yards but completed just 31 of 57 passes and finished with a passer rating of 59.8.
The Vikings blended rush and coverage, recording 13 passes defensed.
Tomlinson, who had been out of the lineup since suffering a calf injury in Week 8, also forced a throw on third-and-7 from the Minnesota 18 to be too high for Garrett Wilson early in the third quarter.
View postgame celebration photos of the Vikings following their 27-22 win over the Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium.
3. Run game strong, then gone
The Vikings rushed 16 times for 94 yards in the first half, averaging 5.9 yards per carry, and scoring both first-half touchdowns on the ground.
Minnesota finished, however, with 128 yards on 29 carries for an average of 4.4 yards, meaning Minnesota just gained 34 yards on 13 tries in the second half.
This included six rushes for 24 yards in the third quarter when Minnesota ran just 10 offensive plays. Cousins was 1-for-4 with 0 yards in the third quarter when Minnesota was just 1-for-4 on third downs.
The Jets and Vikings have struggled in third quarters this season, but New York outscored Minnesota 6-0 and outgained the home team 115 to 10 in the third quarter.
4. Joseph made them all
Vikings kicker Greg Joseph was true on all of his kicks on a day where every point mattered with regard to scoreboard math.
Joseph was able to guide a 51-yarder through the uprights after Smith's interception, a huge conversion to get points off a turnover despite the offense stalling.
He also was true on a 41-yarder near the end of the second quarter and made all three of his extra points, attempting those three PATs from the left hash mark after a recent adjustment.
View game action photos from the Week 13 matchup between the Vikings and the Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Q1, 12:33 remaining
Vikings 3, Jets 0
Greg Joseph kicks a 51-yard field goal [4 plays, 1 yard, 0:52 time of possession]
Quick gift: The Vikings failed to move the ball but took advantage of starting the possession at the 34-yard line after the 34th career interception by Harrison Smith, who corralled a pass tipped by Camryn Bynum.
Q1, 8:30 remaining
Vikings 3, Jets 3
Greg Zuerlein kicks a 48-yard field goal [12 plays, 45 yards, 4:03 time of possession]
Nearly picked: The Vikings nearly recorded their second interception in as many Jets possessions when a pass on third-and-10 bounced off former Minnesota TE Tyler Conklin, but as Akayleb Evans tried to complete the catch, he was run into by Bynum, who was also tracking the football.
Q2, 13:02 remaining
View pregame photos of the Vikings ahead of their Week 13 matchup vs. the Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Vikings 10, Jets 3
Dalvin Cook rushes for 4 yards (Joseph kicks PAT) [14 plays, 74 yards, 6:58 time of possession]
From behind the chains: The Vikings bounced back from losing 3 on a pass to Dalvin Cook when Justin Jefferson smartly kept the football on a double pass and rushed for a gain of 8 on second-and-13. Minnesota then picked up 10 with a pass to Jefferson that included an unnecessary roughness penalty.
Q2, 3:35 remaining
Vikings 17, Jets 3
Alexander Mattison Joseph kicks a 30-yard field goal [14 plays, 72 yards, 7:59 time of possession]
Key conversion: T.J. Hockenson converted a third-and-7 with a 7-yard reception. The Jets challenged the spot, but the ruling stood. Mattison shot through blocks by Hockenson and Adam Thielen on the following play.
Q2, 0:40 remaining
Vikings 20, Jets 3
Joseph kicks a 41-yard field goal [7 plays, 20 yards, 1:18 time of possession]
Add 3: The Vikings benefited from getting the ball at the New York 43 after Jets Head Coach Robert Saleh opted to go for it on fourth-and-2 from his own 43. Sullivan broke up a pass intended for Conklin.
Q2, 0:08 remaining
Vikings 20, Jets 6
Zuerlein kicks a 60-yard field goal [6 plays, 33 yards, 0:32 time of possession]
Jets record: New York quickly bounced back, moving the ball 33 yards in 32 seconds. The Vikings called a timeout on fourth-and-3, and the Jets opted to try a 60-yard field goal by Zuerlein. "Legatron" preserved his nickname by setting a Jets record for longest field goal.
Q3, 9:43 remaining
Vikings 20, Jets 9
Zuerlein kicks a 36-yard field goal [8 plays, 43 yards, 3:13 time of possession]
Stalled out: The Jets quickly moved the ball from their 39 to the Minnesota 21 before trying a trick play, end around pass by Wilson that he had to throw out of bounds. New York then tried a shovel pass to Conklin, but it only gained 3. Dalvin Tomlinson forced the next pass to be off the mark.
View photos of the Vikings arriving at U.S. Bank Stadium ahead of the Week 13 matchup vs. the Jets.
Q3, 0:59 remaining
Vikings 20, Jets 12
Zuerlein kicks a 30-yard field goal [12 plays, 62 yards, 6:17 time of possession]
Rally after penalty: The Vikings defense rallied to force a stop after right tackle George Fant was flagged for a block in the back of Patrick Peterson after a quick pass to Braxton Berrios.
Q4, 12:30 remaining
Vikings 20, Jets 15
Zuerlein kicks a 26-yard field goal [5 plays, 63 yards, 2:16 time of possession]
TD saver: Camryn Bynum chased down Wilson to force the receiver to step one foot out of bounds at the 11, and Minnesota came up with another stand in the red zone. Za'Darius Smith tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage on third-and-7 from the Minnesota 8.
Q4, 8:33 remaining
Vikings 27, Jets 15
Jefferson catches a 10-yard pass from Cousins (Joseph kicks PAT) [7 plays, 75 yards, 3:57 time of possession]
Chunk plays: The Vikings snapped out of their third-quarter funk by gaining at least 11 yards on four consecutive plays. Cousins withstood a corner blitz to get the ball to Johnny Mundt for a gain of 12, and followed with a 13-yard pass to Hockenson. Cook then sprang loose for a gain of 11 before Cousins connected with Thielen on a gain of 25 to the 14.
Q4, 6:45 remaining
Vikings 27, Jets 22
White sneaks for 1 yard (Zuerlein kicks PAT) [5 plays, 75 yards, 1:48 time of possession]
Bang, bang: The Jets opened their possession with a 48-yard rush by Zonovan Knight and got another 24 when Duke Shelley was flagged for pass interference, taking the ball all the way to the 3.