MINNEAPOLIS — K.J. Osborn grew up 36 miles from Detroit, Michigan, in Ypsilanti.
Osborn knows a thing or two about making big-time plays when the situation calls for it.
In Week 6 against Carolina last season, Osborn caught a game-winning, 27-yard touchdown to propel Minnesota to an overtime victory. On Sunday — against his hometown team — the third-year wide receiver came up clutch for the Vikings again.
With less than a minute remaining and Minnesota trailing by three, Osborn broke free from his defender. He threw up his hand to alert his quarterback Kirk Cousins that he was open.
Cousins saw Osborn and delivered a 28-yard, go-ahead touchdown to put the Vikings up 28-24 and send U.S. Bank Stadium into sheer pandemonium.
"I got the play call and I saw where the nickel was, it looked like he was about to blitz, so I kind kept my leverage," Osborn said on the touchdown. "That kind of lost him, I threw my hand up, Kirk threw a great ball as always and the rest was history."
"It's awesome to be able to make those plays down the stretch," Cousins said. "It's fun to see someone like K.J. make that play, too. It's fun to see the linemen, the way they're grinding, and to see them celebrate and know we got the job done there. It's just a joy."
The play lifted the Vikings to a key bounce-back win after a tough Monday Night Football performance in Philadelphia.
"So proud of our team. There was a long list of adversity throughout that football game and dating back to last week," O'Connell said. "All our guys do it continue to believe, believe in each other. We are going to continue to improve as a football team, but for us to be at our best when it was required and play complementary football that way we did. To finish, it's good to have that feeling both times we have been at U.S. Bank Stadium against a divisional opponent."
After only scoring seven points against the Eagles, the Vikings experienced similar struggles in the early stages on Sunday against the Lions.
The Vikings had the ball for just 4:21 in the opening quarter. Minnesota tried to get on the board after a Lions field goal attempt hit the right upright, but Greg Joseph's kick from 56 yards went wide right.
But unlike last Monday's loss, the Vikings were able to find a way to dig deep and respond in timely fashion.
After a Detroit touchdown put the Lions up 14-0 to start the second quarter, Minnesota answered with an 11-play, 80-yard drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown from Cousins to wide receiver Adam Thielen.
On their next possession, the Vikings took advantage of good field position, marching down before running back Dalvin Cook bounced to the outside for a 4-yard score to tie things up at 14-14 just before the half.
Minnesota's offense went cold again, though, in the third quarter. The Vikings only gained 59 total yards and had a three-and-out, a missed field goal and a fumble.
The Vikings kept fighting, however.
In the fourth, with great field position again near midfield, Minnesota drove quickly. Cousins found tight end Johnny Mundt and Thielen on multiple first-down passes to put the Vikings in the red zone.
Running back Alexander Mattison then carried it in from 6 yards out to trim the deficit to three at 24-21.
Mattison said the team's ability to play together showed throughout the fourth, especially on that drive.
"The way that we were just playing some complementary football overall to march down there was just amazing on that drive," Mattison said. "As soon as we got that play call in, I kind of knew where the run was going to hit. Just looking at the way they lined up and then trusting in my O-line to go out there and do what they did. It's will on will on that play and all credit to the O-line up front, moving those guys and getting them out the way, and I was able to get into the end zone."
Cook led the Vikings in rushing with 96 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown, while Mattison added 28 yards on seven attempts and a score.
Mattison added it felt good to get the backfield more into a rhythm after struggling to gain momentum in the first two weeks of the season.
"We're trying to establish our identity, and that's a huge part of it. Being able to get that going feels good, and we just want to continue to grow that momentum, play downhill fast and physical," Mattison said. "And you see once we lean on our big guys up front, they can get the job done and it helps marry up the pass game. Overall, it was just one of those days where we kind of established our identity, and we'll continue to do that."
Osborn led in receiving with 73 yards on five catches and a touchdown. Thielen added six receptions for 61 yards and a score while tight end Irv Smith, Jr. added two catches for 32 yards.
Justin Jefferson was limited to three receptions for 14 yards.
"It's frustrating for sure, but I ask for it. Just playing the way I've been playing, just being the type of player that I am, those double teams and triple teams are going to come," Jefferson said. "But that's the luxury of having Adam and K.J. on the other side, even [Jalen Reagor]. Our receiver corps is deep, even when they want to double team me, I know somebody's going to be open."
Thielen added: "That's what's so great about this offense, you just play it out and you just try to win. I know that's maybe cliché to say, but you really do, you just go out there, you hear the play, you try to do your job to the best of your ability and you let guys that are a lot better at thinking out the game like Kirk and coach, you let them do their job and just let them find the open guys."