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Wild Goal-Line Sequences Lift Vikings to Victory at Buffalo

It looked like the clock had struck midnight on the Vikings.

Quarterback Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills had the ball, the lead and time on their side.

Or so they thought.

Allen tried to escape Buffalo's end zone with a sneak, but he lost the football during the snap. Minnesota linebacker Eric Kendricks secured it in the end zone for a touchdown, giving the Vikings the lead back with 41 seconds remaining.

"We knew it was going to be a sneak," Kendricks said. "They were backed up. They can't just take a knee. Otherwise, it's going to be a safety. So we put a little pressure on them [and] the ball dropped. I was in the bottom of the pile and I kind of saw the ball rolling around and I grabbed it and I held on as hard as I could."

An extra point by kicker Greg Joseph gave the Vikings a three-point lead, but the Bills had one final chance to tie or take the lead. Allen marched Buffalo downfield and Bills kicker Tyler Bass connected on a 29-yard field goal with two seconds left to tie things up and force overtime.

The Vikings got the ball to start overtime and reclaimed the lead at 33-30 with 3:42 left in the period on a 33-yard field goal by Joseph. Minnesota then sealed the victory on an interception by cornerback Patrick Peterson in the end zone. Peterson's second pick of the day iced the Vikings seventh consecutive victory.

View postgame celebration photos following the Vikings 33-30 win in overtime vs. the Bills at Highmark Stadium.

"Pretty unbelievable football game to be a part of," Minnesota Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said. "There's a lot of moments in that game where I'm trying to think back and process the critical plays that our guys made offensively and defensively. It wasn't always perfect for us, but our team's ability over these last few weeks to win football games, maybe not in circumstances like this, but I think that allowed us to have the confidence we needed to try to make one more play and keep the football game alive in any way, shape or form we had to do."

O'Connell added he's made sure throughout the season his team is prepared for the types of moments like Kendricks' recovery.

"It goes back at different times, training camp and different scenarios, you just talk about it a lot. There's been some clips of similar situations around the league this year, how you want to make sure you are ready for it," O'Connell said. "What we call it in that moment, just to make sure we're aligned right to possibly have the best chance to impact the play and get the ball if it does go on the ground. Compliments to those guys for executing it."

The past six games, the Vikings had found a way to win despite trailing in the second half. And for the second consecutive week and the third time in the past seven games, Minnesota faced a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit, but managed to climb out of it.

The Vikings found themselves trailing by four at 27-23 after a 3-yard touchdown run by fullback C.J. Ham and Joseph's extra point attempt hit the right upright with 4:34 remaining in regulation.

After a Bills punt, Minnesota saw its drive start to unravel after the Bills defense sacked quarterback Kirk Cousins twice in a span of three plays. Facing a daunting fourth-and-18 from the Vikings 27-yard line with two minutes left, Cousins dropped back before firing a deep ball for wide receiver Justin Jefferson.

Both Jefferson and Buffalo cornerback Cam Lewis leapt for the ball before Jefferson ripped it away from Lewis' grasp with one hand for a 32-yard reception to keep the drive alive.

Cousins then found wide receiver Adam Thielen for a 9-yard reception that ended with an unnecessary roughness penalty on Buffalo, moving the ball to the 17-yard line with 1:18 left in the fourth quarter.

A play later, Cousins and Jefferson teamed up again, with Jefferson making another tough catch for 14 yards to set up first-and-goal from the Bills 3-yard line.

Then chaos ensued.

View game photos of the Week 10 matchup between the Vikings and Bills at Highmark Stadium,

Cousins got stepped on by an offensive lineman's foot and fell for a loss of 3 and had a pass fall incomplete before delivering what was initially ruled a touchdown pass to Jefferson. After a review, Jefferson was ruled just short of the goal line.

On fourth-and-inches from the Buffalo half-yard line, Cousins tried to sneak the ball across — similar to his go-ahead score against Chicago in Week 5 — but this time, he was stopped short, and the Bills took over on downs with 49 seconds left.

One play later, the Vikings were in front, thanks to the Kendricks touchdown.

O'Connell and Cousins said they felt a lot of emotions throughout the entire goal-line sequences and into the overtime period.

"The range would be about as much of a possible range as you could have in that moment," O'Connell said. "It takes a lot to even get down there in that moment and to not get in was unfortunate. We've got to go take a look at what transpired in that moment, but we work on that scenario when you're so tight, when you're so far down there."

If he had to, O'Connell was going to use his final timeout to force Buffalo to snap the ball one more time.

Cousins described the range as "all over the map."

"You're expecting to get in, didn't get in, about as close as you can get without getting in, and then [the] defense does a phenomenal job not only providing pressure there but also then recovering it for a touchdown," Cousins said. "And then we had to get our mind right for overtime, and I thought we ran the football really well in overtime. There were a lot of sequences where you just have to keep playing."

With the Vikings improving to 8-1, Cousins believes having these "battle-tested" victories will ultimately help the team down the road.

"I take the go back to work approach. It's day-to-day, week-to-week, you're only as good as your last play, your last game. You certainly want to stack up the wins, and we've been able to do that for the most part, but being battle tested is what you take from it because you know come January you're going to need that," Cousins said. "So having had that, I think is the silver lining; like I've said, I'd like to pull away from people more than we have and not gift teams opportunities like I felt the turnovers did today but the battle-tested part of it is what you pull from it and say, 'That can help us.' "

Cousins added their belief in each other is a key component as well.

"I think belief in not only yourself, but the players around you and the other units," Cousins said. "Believing the defense will make a play, believing your teammates will make a play on offense, I think there's a lot of belief and a lot of love for one another that goes a long way."