View game action images as the Vikings take on the Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Momentum seemed to be shifting toward the Vikings in the third quarter until the Patriots put together back-to-back touchdown drives in a span of less than six minutes.
New England claimed a 24-10 lead with 10:54 remaining and protected its lead the rest of the way.
First, the Patriots unknotted a tie at 10 in the third quarter with just four plays, capping a 75-yard drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Josh Gordon.
The score was the 508th in the regular season for Brady, tying him with Brett Favre for third all-time.
Then, New England capitalized on a short field by going 50 yards in six plays and punching the ball in with fullback James Develin, for his second touchdown of the night.
Brady finished 24-of-32 passing for 311 yards and a passer rating of 102.5. He was intercepted by Eric Kendricks at the Minnesota 43 with 5:25 left in the game.
Minnesota, however, was unable to capitalize on the takeaway.
Kirk Cousins was intercepted in the end zone on a pass that bounced off Aldrick Robinson and J.C. Jackson three plays later. Cousins finished 32-of-44 passing for 201 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
New England converted seven of 14 on third down, frequently staying ahead of the chains, and totaled 471 yards, including 160 rushing.
The Patriots held the ball for 33:21, improving to 6-0 this season when winning time of possession and 14-1 in the past two seasons. They also are 7-0 when rushing for at least 100 yards, and the Vikings are 0-5 when allowing the milestone.
Dalvin Cook led Minnesota with 84 yards on just nine carries. He had eight receptions but totaled 22 yards on those plays.
Stefon Diggs (five catches, 49 yards) and Adam Thielen (five catches, 28 yards, one touchdown) were covered frequently with a variety of looks.
The Vikings fell to 6-5-1, and the Patriots improved to 9-3.
Now, for a dose of good news: the entire NFC North lost on Sunday.
Chicago (8-4) dropped a 30-27 overtime contest at the New York Giants, falling to 8-4.
Green Bay (4-7-1) lost 20-17 at home to Arizona. The Packers fired Head Coach Mike McCarthy after the game.
Detroit (4-8) was downed 30-16 by the Los Angeles Rams.
Minnesota trailed 10-7 at halftime and built some momentum heading into the locker room.
It could have been much worse, or even a little better.
The Patriots were 5-for-8 on third downs in the first half and limited the Vikings to 1-for-5.
New England outgained Minnesota 228 to 168, although 42 occurred on the final play of the first half when Brady took a snap with one second remaining and made a quick toss to James White. Harrison Smith was waiting for White at the Minnesota 11.
The Patriots quickly and cleanly opened the game by going 81 yards on eight plays, including a five-snap stretch that turned a second-and-15 at their own 14 into a first-and-goal at the Minnesota 1. Short passes by Brady led to gains of 13, 18, 24 and 15 before Julian Edelman gained 15 on a rush.
The Vikings also missed out on a scoring opportunity on their second possession of the game. After Dalvin Cook ripped off a 32-yard run to the New England 22-yard line, Latavius Murray was stopped for a gain of 1 a play before Cousins was sacked for a loss of 8. An incompletion led to a 48-yard field goal attempt by Dan Bailey, but the kick was wide left.
Q1, 9:33 remaining
Patriots 7, Vikings 0
James Develin rushes for 1-yard touchdown (Stephen Gostkowski PAT) [8 plays, 81 yards, 3:52 time of possession]
Chunk plays: The Patriots were able to get substantial gains of 18, 24 and 15 on consecutive short passes to Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson and Rex Burkhead, to move from their own 27 to the Minnesota 16.
Q2, 5:45 remaining
Patriots 10, Vikings 0
Gostkowski kicks a 20-yard field goal [15 plays, 68 yards, 8:16]
Clutch stop: Anthony Harris and Xavier Rhodes executed an effective switch, with Rhodes picking up Rob Gronkowski and Harris covering Edelman and breaking up a pass on third-and-goal from the Minnesota 1-yard line.
Q2, 0:15 remaining
Patriots 10, Vikings 7
Adam Thielen catches a 5-yard pass from Kirk Cousins (Bailey PAT) [7 plays, 74 yards, 1:37]
Hurry-up offense provides spark: After getting the ball back with 1:52 remaining, the Vikings began the drive with consecutive completions of 24 yards to Stefon Diggs and 23 yards to Kyle Rudolph.
Q3, 2:20 remaining
Patriots 10, Vikings 10
Bailey kicks a 39-yard field goal [12 plays, 41 yards, 4:01]
Took their shots: After an 18-yard run by Dalvin Cook moved the ball to the New England 22, the Vikings took two shots at the end zone on their next three plays. Cousins tried to hit Aldrick Robinson on first down and then tried to connect with Thielen on a third-and-9. Despite contact on both plays, no flags were thrown.
Q3, 0:35 remaining
Patriots 17, Vikings 10
Josh Gordon catches a 24-yard touchdown from Brady (Gostkowski PAT) [4 plays, 75 yards, 1:45]
Finding an opening: Gordon, who started the drive with a 24-yard catch and run by breaking a tackle against Marcus Sherels, was able to drop into an open spot in a zone defense.
Q4, 10:54 remaining
Patriots 24, Vikings 10
Develin rushes for a 2-yard touchdown (Gostkowski PAT) [6 plays, 50 yards, 3:12]
Jump-start: A 23-yard punt return by Edelman gave the ball to the Patriots at midfield, and New England picked up 24 on a pass interference call a play later.