MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings completed the biggest comeback in NFL history, erasing a 33-point deficit by beating the Indianapolis Colts, 39-36, on Greg Joseph’s 40-yard field goal with three seconds left in overtime on Saturday to clinch the NFC North division in their typical dramatic fashion.
Kirk Cousins passed for 460 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Vikings (11-3), who trailed, 36-7, late in the third quarter and became just the third team in league history to win 10 games in one season by 8 points or fewer.
The Colts (4-9-1) stumbled onto the infamous side of the list, just ahead of the Houston Oilers in the 1992 postseason when they blew a 32-point lead (35-3) and lost to Buffalo (41-38) in overtime. According to Sportradar data, this was only the second time in 1,551 regular-season or playoff games in the league since 1930 that a team had a 30-plus-point lead and lost.
The Vikings took this rally all the way to their second possession of OT, after punting on their first one. Cousins hit K.J. Osborn — who had a touchdown and a career-high 157 yards — for 15 yards, Adam Thielen for 21 yards, and Justin Jefferson for 13 yards to move into range.
Ifeadi Odenigbo was called for delay of game for lying on Jefferson to try to keep the Vikings from setting up for the kick, putting Joseph 5 yards closer for the winner.
Colts interim coach Jeff Saturday didn’t exactly get conservative in this collapse. Matt Ryan was stopped short on a fourth-and-1 sneak at the Minnesota 36 with 2:19 left in regulation. Then Cousins hit Dalvin Cook for a 64-yard touchdown on a screen pass on the next play and T.J. Hockenson for the 2-point conversion to tie the game before the two-minute warning.
Outscored 33-0 in the fourth quarter of their most recent game, a 54-19 loss to Dallas on Dec. 4, the Colts came back fresh from their bye week and stunned the Vikings with a 33-0 halftime lead that was the second-largest in the NFL this season. Cincinnati led Carolina, 35-0, on Nov. 6.
The intermission deficit for Minnesota was the second-biggest in franchise history, behind a 45-10 score at Seattle in 2002.
The Colts now have been outscored after halftime, 72-9, in their last two games. They had a six-game winning streak against the Vikings stopped. The last time Minnesota beat Indianapolis was in 1997, the final game the Colts played before they drafted Peyton Manning.
The Vikings and their fans were livid several times after questionable calls went against them. With 3:23 left, Chandon Sullivan scooped up a fumble by Deon Jackson and returned it for what would’ve been a 39-yard touchdown. The Vikings were given the recovery, but the play was blown dead.
Sullivan was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after his tirade at the officials. The nickel cornerback thought he scored on a fumble return in the second quarter, too, when he ripped the ball out of Michael Pittman’s arms after a short catch. That play was blown dead for forward progress.
The special teams units bore the brunt of the brutal start for the Vikings. Dallis Flowers returned the opening kickoff 49 yards, and the Colts were in scoring position within seconds.
Odenigbo plowed past two blockers and sideswiped Ryan Wright’s punt with his right arm. JoJo Domann caught the deflected ball and returned it 24 yards for the too-easy score and a 10-0 lead.
Then with the Vikings trailing, 20-0, coach Kevin O’Connell ordered a fake punt on fourth and 1 from their own 31. Wright’s pass sailed over Jalen Nailor’s head for a second straight turnover on downs.