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Vikings-Saints Game Observations: Edging Out Another 1

LONDON — Left upright, cross bar, green of end zone. No good. Exhale.

Wil Lutz's 61-yard field goal attempt bounced twice before landing harmlessly (from a Vikings perspective) to the turf, and Minnesota held off a determined New Orleans squad 28-25 Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Greg Joseph split the uprights on a 47-yard field goal to put Minnesota ahead with 24 seconds remaining.

The Saints responded with a 32-yard pass to rookie Chris Olave to the Minnesota 43-yard line, but Minnesota didn't budge another inch.

Joseph's fifth three-pointer of the game gave Minnesota its third win of 2022, improving the Vikings to 3-1 on the season and improved the squad to 3-0 all-time in the United Kingdom at the third different stadium that has hosted the Vikings.

Dalvin Cook picked a fine time for his longest run of the day, a 14-yard gain to start Minnesota's final possession, and Kirk Cousins picked an even finer time for his best throw of the day, a 39-yard strike to Justin Jefferson to set up Joseph's winner.

The Vikings will host the Chicago Bears at noon Sunday.

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

View action photos from the Week 4 Vikings-Saints game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Oct. 2.

1. Big day for J.J. & Thielen

Jefferson will enjoy this one for a longtime.

The Louisiana native was initially disappointed the Vikings would not be playing the Saints in his home state, but he seemed to be quite OK with his international debut.

Jefferson finished with 10 catches for 147 yards and scored his first career rushing touchdown.

Adam Thielen also had a big day with eight catches for 72 yards.

Cousins finished 25-for-38 passing for 273 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His passer rating was 84.6.

2. Missed opportunities

The Vikings had numerous opportunities to put this one away before the final snap, but went just 2-for-5 in the red zone.

The other three times resulted in short field goals by Joseph.

3. Third downs to first-half touchdowns

The only third downs converted by either team in the first half occurred during the touchdown drives by each team.

Alexander Mattison's touchdown — a screen with nice blocking and a superb run after the catch — was the fourth third down converted by Minnesota on its opening drive.

Minnesota also picked up a third-and-7 with a 10-yard pass to Irv Smith, Jr., a third-and-1 with a run by Dalvin Cook and a third-and-2 with a 9-yard pass to Cook during the impressive opening drive.

The Vikings were 4-for-8 in the first half.

The Saints converted all three of their six total third-down tries during their possession that ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to Chris Olave on third-and-goal.

New Orleans also converted a third-and-8 with an 11-yard pass to Olave and a third-and-2 with a 5-yard run by Mark Ingram.

4. Fake punt and other special teams successes

The Vikings executed their first successful fake punt in a game since Nov. 7, 2021, at Baltimore.

Rookie Ryan Wright took the snap and calmly hit Jalen Nailor for a gain of 13. It was the first reception of the former Michigan State receiver's NFL career.

Kris Boyd also showed great hustle after initially overrunning Deonte Harty while covering a punt. Boyd got up quickly and knocked the ball free after Josh Metellus made an initial stop of Harty.

Throw in the five field goals by Joseph, and it was another impactful game by Minnesota's special teams.

Scoring summary

Q1, 8:12 remaining

Vikings 7, Saints 0

Alexander Mattison catches a 15-yard pass from Kirk Cousins (Greg Joseph kicks PAT) [13 plays, 75 yards, 6:48 time of possession]

Hot start: Cousins opened the game 7-for-9 passing for 67 yards and a passer rating of 134.7. The Vikings used play-action passes and Cousins found open teammates.

Q2, 8:57 remaining

Vikings 7, Saints 7

Chris Olave catches a 4-yard pass from Andy Dalton (Wil Lutz kicks PAT) [12 plays, 60 yards, 6:13 time of possession]

Q2, 1:04 remaining

Vikings 10, Saints 7

Joseph kicks 28-yard field goal [9 plays, 46 yards, 2:38 time of possession]

Back-to-back-to back:

Q2, 0:00 remaining

Vikings 13, Saints 7

Joseph kicks a 36-yard field goal [4 plays, 2 yards, 0:56 time of possession]

Points off turnover: The Vikings took over at the Saints 20-yard line after Harrison Phillips recovered an Andy Dalton fumble forced by Dalvin Tomlinson, but New Orleans held steady by making a nice tackle of Jefferson for no gain on first down and creating pressure to force an incompletion on second down.

Q3, 9:23 remaining

Vikings 16, Saints 7

Joseph kicks a 24-yard field goal [5 plays, 38 yards, 2:31 time of possession]

Going big and then a no-go: The Vikings followed a forced fumble and recovery by Kris Boyd while covering a punt with a 41-yard pass to Jefferson all the way to the 3, but Minnesota followed with no gain on a first-down run, a pass a little off the mark for Jefferson and a short pass to Thielen.

Q3, 3:49 remaining

Vikings 16, Saints 14

Latavius Murray rushes for 1 yard [12 plays, 78 yards, 5:34 time of possession]

Deep shot: Marquez Callaway did the brunt of the damage with a 33-yard reception to move the ball to the Minnesota 10 while working against Akayleb Evans, who had briefly replaced Cameron Dantzler, Sr.

Q4, 14:14 remaining

Vikings 19, Saints 14

Joseph kicks a 46-yard field goal [9 plays, 28 yards, 4:35 time of possession]

Fake punt undermined: The Vikings kept their drive alive with a fake punt on fourth-and-2. Ryan Wright completed a 13-yard pass to fellow rookie Jalen Nailor. Minnesota followed with an 11-yard run by Cook, but the drive was undermined

Q4, 9:29 remaining

Saints 22, Vikings 19

Taysom Hill rushes for 2 yards (Jarvis Landry catches 2-point conversion pass from Dalton) [9 plays, 75 yards, 4:45 time of possession]

Ground gains: The Saints rushed six times for 39 yards during the drive, including back-to-back gains of 7 by Murray that preceded a 13-yard run by Hill.

Q4, 4:15 remaining

Vikings 25, Saints 22

Jefferson rushes for 3 yards (Joseph PAT is partially blocked and misses) [10 plays, 75 yards, 5:14 time of possession]

Big penalty: Thielen drew a 40-yard pass interference penalty on Marshon Lattimore on third-and-10 to move the ball to the New Orleans 3.

Q4, 1:51 remaining

Vikings 25, Saints 25

Lutz kicks a 60-yard field goal [10 plays, 75 yards, 5:14 time of possession]

Off the field: The Vikings forced the long attempt by blitzing Harrison Smith on third-and-9. The pressure prompted Dalton to throw the ball away before he wanted to get rid of it.

Q4, 0:24 remaining

Vikings 28, Saints 25

Joseph kicks a 47-yard field goal [6 plays, 53 yards, 1:27 time of possession]