Analysis: Vikings, Bucs, Packers, Colts make big statements

Nov 13, 2022, 1:01 PM | Updated: Nov 14, 2022, 8:22 am
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins passes the ball prior to an NFL football game against th...

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins passes the ball prior to an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

(AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

              Indianapolis Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday greets tight end Nikola Kalinic before an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders in Las Vegas, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/David Becker)
            
              Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates his touchdown during the first half of a NFL football game between the Washington Commanders and the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022 in Landover, Md. (Shaban Athuman/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)
            
              Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins passes the ball prior to an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

Bust out the victory chains. The Minnesota Vikings proved they’re for real.

After piling up wins against losing teams and backup quarterbacks, the Vikings earned a signature victory on the road against the Buffalo Bills.

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jeff Saturday and the Indianapolis Colts also made big statements on Sunday.

The Vikings overcame a 17-point, second-half deficit in a difficult environment to improve to 8-1 with a thrilling, improbable 33-30 overtime win over Josh Allen and the Bills.

There’s no doubting Kirk Cousins anymore. He rallied the Vikings to their fifth win this season when trailing with 2 1/2 minutes or less remaining. Cousins threw for 357 yards, including a 32-yarder on fourth-and-18 to Justin Jefferson, who made an incredible, one-handed snag to keep Minnesota’s final drive of regulation going.

Patrick Peterson sealed the win with an interception in the end zone, and took the gold chains from Cousins for the celebration on the flight home.

The Vikings opened the season with a convincing win over the Packers but were blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles in a Monday night game in Week 2. They’ve won seven in a row since that loss, but their only win over a team with a winning record in that span came against the Miami Dolphins minus Tua Tagovailoa last month.

Beating Allen and the Bills (6-3) on their turf solidifies Minnesota’s status as a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Now, the schedule gets tougher for the Vikings. They face the Cowboys (6-3), Patriots (5-4) and Jets (6-3) at home the next three weeks.

Rodgers and the Packers are a long way from thinking about a championship, but they’re not done yet. Trailing by 14 points in the fourth quarter, vintage Rodgers led the Packers back to a 31-28 overtime win against the Cowboys, which have one of the league’s best defenses.

The Packers (4-6) snapped a five-game losing streak but are still 1 1/2 games behind San Francisco for the third wild-card spot. However, Rodgers may have finally found his go-to receiver. Rookie Christian Watson caught four passes for 107 yards against Dallas, including touchdowns of 58, 39 and 7 yards.

If the Packers find a way to get into the playoffs, they’ll be an opponent that teams don’t want to face because of Rodgers.

Another No. 12 seems to have his team back on track.

A week after Brady led a game-winning drive in the final 42 seconds against the Rams, the Buccaneers showed signs of being the dominant team they’ve been the past two years. Rookie Rachaad White and Leonard Fournette combined for 162 yards rushing and Tampa topped Seattle 21-16 in the first NFL regular-season game in Germany.

The defense overpowered the Seahawks and forced a turnover for the first time since Week 4, and the Buccaneers (5-5) took a one-game lead in the weak NFC South.

If the Buccaneers continue to have success running the ball and the defense keeps playing tough, Brady makes them a threat in January.

The Colts aren’t going anywhere in the competitive AFC, but they’re not a laughingstock either. A turbulent week that began with owner Jim Irsay firing coach Frank Reich and taking intense criticism for hiring former All-Pro center Jeff Saturday to be the interim coach ended with Matt Ryan returning from injury to lead a 25-20 upset win at Las Vegas.

Saturday, who took plenty of heat for taking the job without paying his dues as an assistant coach, proved he’s no joke. The Colts’ struggling offensive line played inspired football, paving the way for 207 yards rushing and allowing just one sack.

If the Colts (4-5-1) keep improving, Saturday could end up keeping the job after the season despite all the criticism.

___

Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Vanderbilt guard Jordan Wright (4) drives against Tennessee guard Santiago Vescovi during the first...
Associated Press

Vandy stuns No. 6 Tennessee on Lawrence’s buzzer-beating 3

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tyrin Lawrence knocked down a 3-pointer from the right corner at the buzzer as the Vanderbilt Commodores snapped an 11-game skid against its in-state rival by upsetting sixth-ranked Tennessee 66-65 Wednesday night. Students rushed the court and joined the Commodores in celebrating easily the biggest win in coach Jerry Stackhouse’s fourth […]
18 hours ago
Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick stretches during an NFL football Super Bowl team prac...
Associated Press

Eagles count on pass rush to harass Mahomes in Super Bowl

PHOENIX (AP) — The defensive philosophy that has carried the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl is relatively simple. A deep rotation of defensive linemen provides constant pressure that makes opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable and often leads to them ending on the ground. “It’s always a race to the quarterback,” defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. “We […]
18 hours ago
Fulham's Harry Wilson celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game during the English FA ...
Associated Press

Rashford, Sancho answer taunts with goals to get Man U point

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — In the face of cruel taunts from Leeds fans, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho responded in style. Both players scored in a rousing second-half comeback as Manchester United rallied Wednesday to salvage a 2-2 draw in the Premier League. “You let your country down,” fans chanted in the away section at […]
18 hours ago
Emily Fox of the U.S., center, leads a string of teammates against New Zealand during their women's...
Associated Press

US forward Alex Morgan supports transgender kids in sports

Forward Alex Morgan says the U.S. national team should have internal discussions about whether to play exhibition games in states that restrict transgender kids from participating in sports. The team is currently preparing for the SheBelieves Cup, a round-robin tournament with Canada, Brazil and Japan that starts next week. Matches are scheduled in Florida and […]
18 hours ago
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a news conference ahead of the Super Bowl 57 football ...
Associated Press

NFL Commissioner Goodell tackles diversity, concussions

PHOENIX (AP) — From diversity to concussions, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated the league is still looking for improvement. As for officiating, he says: “it’s never been better.” Goodell addressed those topics and more, including the Washington Commanders’ investigation, flex scheduling and international play in his annual Super Bowl news conference Wednesday. DeMeco Ryans became […]
18 hours ago
CORRECT ID TO MICHAEL SKUBALA , NOT SIMON HOOPER  - Leeds United's interim head coach Michael Skuba...
Associated Press

Man United stages fightback to draw 2-2 with Leeds in EPL

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United fought back from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Leeds in the Premier League on Wednesday. Substitute Jadon Sancho rescued a point for Erik ten Hag’s team, which missed the chance to move level on points with second-place Manchester City. Leeds fired Jesse Marsch on Monday. It is […]
18 hours ago
Analysis: Vikings, Bucs, Packers, Colts make big statements