The Vikings suffered a harried comeback by the Bills and lost 17-16 Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium on a touchdown pass by Buffalo with one second remaining.
Minnesota's defense played well for much of the game, but allowed Buffalo to convert a fourth-and-20, a third-and-12 and a second-and-20 with passes by QB Kyle Orton before the veteran hit first-round pick Sammy Watkins for a two-yard touchdown that erased a six-point lead for Minnesota. Dan Carpenter's point after touchdown put the Bills ahead.
Buffalo (4-3) did an onside kick after taking the lead, and Minnesota (2-5) eventually got the ball to return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson through a series of backtracking and laterals, but Patterson was shoved out of bounds to end the game.
Watkins led all receivers with 122 yards on nine receptions and 14 targets, and Orton finished 31-of-43 passing for 283 yards with two TDs and one interception despite being sacked six times by the Vikings.
Everson Griffen tied his single-game career high with three sacks and forced a fumble by Orton that was recovered by rookie Anthony Barr (his second of the game) at the Minnesota 18-yard line midway through the third quarter. The Vikings, however, were forced to punt on the ensuing possession.
Minnesota moved the ball to the Buffalo 7 early in the fourth quarter after rookie Teddy Bridgewater converted a third-and-18 and a third-and-10 with passes to Jarius Wright, but Buffalo sacked Bridgewater on consecutive plays for losses of 7 and 9, respectively, to set up a third-and-23. Rookie Jerick McKinnon gained 8, but the Vikings settled for a 33-yard field goal by Blair Walsh, his third three-pointer of the game.
Bridgewater finished 15-of-26 passing for 157 yards with his first career TD pass and two interceptions. He was sacked five times. McKinnon had 103 yards rushing on 19 carries, Wright had 60 yards on four catches, and Greg Jennings led Minnesota with six catches for 77 yards.
The game started with promise for Minnesota, which welcomed back linebacker Chad Greenway back to the lineup. The nine-year veteran forced a fumble to end Buffalo's first possession. Vikings safety Robert Blanton pounced on the ball to record Minnesota's first fumble recovery of the season and the first of his three-year career.
The Vikings only had to wait for their second fumble recovery, ending Buffalo's second possession of the game when Harrison Smith forced a fumble by Robert Woods after a short gain. Barr collected the ball for his first fumble recovery in the NFL and gave possession to the offense at the Buffalo 27.
View images from the week seven matchup at Ralph Wilson Stadium between the Vikings and Bills.
Minnesota, however, had to rely on relief efforts by two offensive linemen on that series. Joe Berger replaced John Sullivan (concussion) at center, and Mike Harris, who is normally a reserve tackle, filled in for Vladimir Ducasse (knee) at right guard, and the Vikings called three straight run plays to set up a 40-yard field goal and the early 3-0 lead.
Bridgewater suffered consecutive interceptions made by Leodis McKelvin in the second quarter. The second pick by McKelvin put the Bills in striking distance at the Minnesota 26, and Orton connected with Watkins for a touchdown on the ensuing play to go up 7-3.
Bridgewater recovered on the following drive with help from a great catch by Jennings to gain 38 and convert a third-and-7. Bridgewater hit Jennings on the next play for a gain of 15 and then quickly fired to Patterson, who twisted his way into the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown catch.
Buffalo tied the game at 10 with 4:01 left in the first half with a 32-yard field goal from Carpenter after C.J. Spiller delivered a 53-yard run. Blanton caught Spiller at the Minnesota 15, tripping him from behind, and Spiller suffered a shoulder injury that knocked him out of the game. The Bills also lost running back Fred Jackson (groin) in the first half.
Minnesota's next drive failed to get going, and Buffalo appeared on the move during the two-minute drill, but Blanton halted that with his first career interception.
The Vikings moved the ball from the Minnesota 41 to the Buffalo 37 with three completions on four plays to set up a 55-yard FG by Walsh with 15 seconds left in the half that gave the Vikings a 13-10 lead at the break.