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

FILE - Basketball Hall of Famer Julius Erving tips his cap to the crowd as he takes the court durin...
Associated Press

Arbitrator will referee Dr. J’s suit against brand developer

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A Delaware judge on Monday halted a lawsuit filed by basketball legend Julius Erving against a brand-development and marketing company, ruling that the dispute must go to arbitration. The lawsuit by the Hall of Fame player known as “Dr. J” stems from a 2016 agreement to sell a majority interest in […]
2 days ago
FILE - Tiger Woods tips his hat to the crowd during a match between Serena Williams and Anett Konta...
Associated Press

Tiger Woods withdraws from his tournament with foot injury

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — Tiger Woods was out before he was officially back, withdrawing Monday from his Hero World Challenge with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. The Hero World Challenge was to be the start of a December in golf ruled by Woods, who also has a made-for-television match next weekend, followed by the […]
2 days ago
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup ...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: World Cup highlights from Day 9

Highlights from the ninth day of the World Cup in Qatar on Monday. ___ AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
2 days ago
Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze watches as players warm up prior to an NCAA college football game ag...
Associated Press

Auburn hires Liberty’s Hugh Freeze, who’s coming back to SEC

Auburn is hiring Liberty coach Hugh Freeze to take over the football program, more than five years after his resignation from SEC Western Division rival Mississippi amid both personal and NCAA scandals. A person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Monday that Freeze has signed a memorandum of understanding with the […]
2 days ago
A pitch invader runs is caught while running across the field with a rainbow flag during the World ...
Associated Press

Portugal advances to last 16, beats Uruguay 2-0 at World Cup

LUSAIL, Qatar (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo wheeled away in celebration, acting as though he had scored once again at the World Cup. Not this time. Instead, it was Bruno Fernandes eventually credited with the goal that set up Portugal’s 2-0 win over Uruguay on Monday, advancing the team into the last 16. Fernandes curled in […]
2 days ago
FILE - Jackson State coach Deion Sanders gets his team's attention during the Southern Heritage Cla...
Associated Press

Deion Sanders says report of job offer from Colorado is true

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Deion Sanders said Monday that a report stating Colorado has offered him its head coaching job is true and he has also received interest from other schools. The Jackson State coach didn’t say whether he’s considering any of the opportunities, including trying to turn around the Buffaloes’ beleaguered program. Sanders didn’t […]
2 days ago
Analysis: Vikings, Bucs, Packers, Colts make big statements