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The Minnesota Vikings got absolutely hammered in the first half of Saturday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. They trailed 33-0 and really showed no signs of making a comeback.
One of the biggest plays in that first half, though, was a two-yard pass from Matt Ryan to Michael Pittman. A two-yard pass, you ask? It wasn’t the two-yard pass, but rather what could have been.
Pittman was fighting for extra yards and just as a Vikings defender came in and stripped the ball, the refs blew the whistle to stop the play.
The Colts would punt two plays later, but Kirk Cousins threw a pick-six on the ensuing drive that made it 30-0. That pick-six, by the way, was not on Kirk Cousins.
Justin Jefferson had left the game with an injury and Jalen Reagor was in his spot. He clearly went the wrong direction and Cousins threw it to where he was supposed to be.
Indianapolis would add another field goal before the half.
A Tale of Two Halves
But everything changed after the break. Well, really, after the break and some change. Minnesota got the ball to start the half and immediately went three-and-out. Sure looked like the second half was going to resemble the first one.
After that, though, the Vikings drives looked like this: touchdown, touchdown, touchdown. Arguably, they should have followed that with a fourth consecutive score, but Jalen Reagor once again doesn’t understand how to run routes.
For the second time in the game, Reagor replaced Jefferson, who had to leave the game after a big hit. And, for the second time, Reagor’s poor route running cost the Vikings dearly.
No matter! The Colts were trapped deep in their own territory. They quickly punted, and Kirk Cousins led yet another touchdown drive.
Now trailing by just one score, Minnesota made the biggest play of the game and stripped Colts running back Deon Jackson — in the game for an injured Jonathan Taylor.
Refs job Vikings AGAIN
Safety Chandon Sullivan scooped the ball and took it into the end zone for six. The Vikings would just need to get the two-point conversion to tie. BUT WAIT. The referees called Jackson down by contact even though he fumbled WHILE HE WAS STILL STANDING.
Sullivan, angry that his touchdown was waved off, took his helmet off. That cost the Vikings 15 yards, but they were awarded the ball after review.
Minnesota was unable to score and turned it over on downs, but they never should have needed to score there.
The Colts took over and had a chance to salt the game away. Faced with a fourth-and-one or a 50+ yard field-goal attempt, interim head coach Jeff Saturday elected to go for the jugular. But it didn’t work.
The Vikings stopped Matt Ryan on the quarterback sneak. The Vikings took over, scored a touchdown and got the two-point conversion to tie the game.
Neither team could break through in the final two minutes and the game headed to overtime.
Vikings Complete Greatest Comeback in NFL History
Colts quarterback Matt Ryan knows something about massive NFL comebacks. His Atlanta Falcons led the New England Patriots 28-3 in Super Bowl LI. They would, of course, blow that lead and lose the game. It is the biggest come-from-behind victory in Super Bowl history.
The biggest regular season comeback in history had belonged to the San Francisco 49ers. The 1980 squad trailed 35-7 at halftime against the New Orleans Saints before Joe Montana brought the team back for the largest comeback in the regular season.
The biggest comeback in any game in NFL history belonged to the Buffalo Bills. Known as either “The Comeback” or “The Choke” — depending which side you were on — was the 1993 AFC Wild Card game against the Houston Oilers.
The Bills trailed by 32 points, 35-3, before rallying for a 41-38 win in overtime. The Bills QB for that game was Frank Reich. The Colts fired Reich earlier this season and replaced him with Jeff Saturday. You can’t make this stuff up.
That was the record. Until Saturday.
With 1:41 left in overtime, the Colts punted the ball to the Vikings, who had punted to start the extra period.
Kirk Cousins got possession of the ball needing to lead the team into field goal range to complete the greatest comeback in NFL history.
After a couple completions down the field, Minnesota gave kicker Greg Joseph a chance to write his name — and the names of everyone on the roster — into the NFL history books.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ