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Lunchbreak: Takeaways & Grades from Vikings vs. Giants

Another week, another wild walk-off winner by the Vikings.

After orchestrating the greatest come-from-behind victory in NFL history on Dec. 17 against Indianapolis, Minnesota used another fourth-quarter comeback and late game-winning drive Saturday against the Giants. Both games ended with field goals by kicker Greg Joseph, with his most recent attempt of 61 yards setting a franchise record and a career long.

Mark Craig of the Star Tribune looked at five takeaways from Minnesota's 27-24 victory over the Giants.

Craig said in just his first year at the helm, Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell has made a strong case for being named the NFL Coach of the Year. He wrote:

The race isn't over, but this 1/50th portion of The Associated Press NFL awards committee is finding it hard not to vote for O'Connell as NFL Coach of the Year. He's 11-0 in one-score games. He's pushed [quarterback] Kirk Cousins nine games above .500. And now he's become a kicker whisperer extraordinaire after the Vikings won their second straight game by a walk-off field goal.

View postgame celebration photos from the Vikings Christmas Eve victory over the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Craig noted a couple of crucial plays made by Vikings reserves on defense and special teams.

Despite allowing more than 400 yards of offense to an opponent for the sixth time in the past seven games, the Vikings were productive in the turnover battle. Minnesota forced two fumbles (one was recovered by New York) and had an interception and a blocked punt.

Entering Saturday's game, the Vikings were tied for eighth in takeaways per game (1.5) while the Giants were tied for the league lead in fewest giveaways per game at 0.9. Both teams also ranked seventh in turnover differential at plus-4.

The first defensive turnover for Minnesota came on the opening play of the second quarter. On first-and-10 from the Vikings 39, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones connected on a 16-yard pass to tight end Daniel Bellinger, but rookie linebacker Brian Asamoah II ripped the ball away from Bellinger's grasp before returning it 12 yards to the Minnesota 36.

The Vikings then marched 42 yards on nine plays before Joseph connected on a 40-yard field goal to push Minnesota's lead to 10-0.

"We work on punching the ball every day, so I'm trained for that play," Asamoah said. "I hit all ball. It came out. I picked it up. I ran with it."

Asamoah started the season primarily on special teams, but he has seen an increased role on defense recently. After having a career-high 21 snaps on defense last week against Indianapolis, Asamoah broke that mark Saturday with 27 defensive snaps against the Giants.

In the fourth quarter, veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson came up with his 33rd career interception after the Vikings had reclaimed the lead at 17-13 in the first minute of the quarter. Later in the fourth, it was special teams ace and backup safety Josh Metellus' turn to produce a big play.

With 4:10 left and the Giants lining up to punt from their own 31, Metellus broke free and blocked punter Jamie Gillan's attempt. New York safety Julian Love recovered it, but Minnesota took over at the Giants 29-yard line.

The Vikings capitalized on the ensuing possession, as Cousins found wide receiver Justin Jefferson for a 17-yard touchdown to push Minnesota's lead to 24-16 with three minutes left.

"I'm just the guy who got his hand on the ball; it's really a team effort," Metellus said. "I'm appreciative of [outside linebacker] Pat Jones II. I went left, and Pat went around to the right and took the center and the eyes of the personal protector. Then I was able to get by the center and get the ball."

Craig also noted the Vikings offensive personnel on their first touchdown (a 12-yard pass from Cousins to tight end T.J. Hockenson) created confusion for the Giants defense.

The Vikings used two tight ends, a fullback, a running back and one receiver on that play. Tight end Johnny Mundt was tight left with fullback C.J. Ham to his left. Hockenson was tight right with Jefferson wide right.

"It was 22X," Hockenson said of the call. "So, yeah, that's a run tell. And with that, we run some nakeds [bootlegs] off that. To run the naked, really fake [the run] and throw to the back of the end zone, that's a tough one to cover."

View game action photos from the Vikings Week 16 Winter Whiteout game vs. the Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium.

CBS Sports Gives Out Grades for Week 16

The Vikings closed out their regular-season home schedule Saturday against the Giants and moved to a dominant 8-1 mark in U.S. Bank Stadium this season.

John Breech of CBS Sports analyzed every weekend game from Week 16 and provided grades for each team. Breech gave the Vikings a "B+" for their game. He wrote:

Minnesota's stars showed up big, with Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson combining to catch 25 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns. The Vikings also managed to somehow remain undefeated in one-score games, thanks to Greg Joseph's 61-yard field goal as time expired. The defense did not put forth a particularly good performance, but that's why you try to win all three phases of the game, I suppose.

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