ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The 2022 Vikings were the 382nd occupant of the visitor's locker room at Highmark Stadium for a regular-season game on Sunday. Until then, no visitor in the venue's 49-year history had celebrated the kind of victory over the Buffalo Bills the Vikings achieved.

The postgame scene after a win like the Vikings' 33-30 overtime thriller can be fertile ground for grand pronouncements, and the team's seventh consecutive victory had a different feel than the six that preceded it. The Vikings became the first team to win at Highmark Stadium after trailing by 14 at halftime. They trailed 27-10 in the second half before fashioning a finish that at times defied reason.

It was enough for Justin Jefferson, the man who'd snatched hope from the jaws of defeat with a miraculous catch with two minutes to go in regulation, to begin speaking of the ineffable.

"I told everybody, 'This is our season. This means this is our season, for us to win out and go to the Super Bowl,'" Jefferson said. "We've got to keep working, going week by week, fix our mistakes and get ready for the Cowboys."

These Vikings have a long, long way to go, and their 61 predecessors can tell the current team plenty about so-called teams of destiny that never reached the ultimate prize. But the kind of win the Vikings pulled off Sunday — on the road, in blustery conditions, against a team that's played six playoff games the past three years — felt it came with some gravitas.

"What we earned here today is the final stamp on understanding we are one of the best teams in this league," Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell told his players after the game. "Now we've got to go prove it each and every week."

They would be hard-pressed to replicate what they did on Sunday.

Facing a fourth-and-18 from their own 27 while trailing 27-23 with two minutes left, the Vikings gained 32 yards when Jefferson reached back with one hand to secure Kirk Cousins' desperation pass. After driving to the Buffalo 1, an offside penalty gave the Vikings one more try at the goal line after Dalvin Cook dropped a potential touchdown pass on fourth down, but Cousins was stopped short on a sneak.

All the Bills had to do was get out of their own end zone to run out the clock.

The Vikings were primed to do everything they could to stop them, having talked through and drilled on the ways they might be able to get the ball back. With former Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips pushing center Mitch Morse out of the way, Eric Kendricks burst through the line to recover a botched exchange between Morse and Josh Allen for a go-ahead touchdown with 41 seconds left.

"The range [of emotions] 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. But that's one of the reasons you get that group ready, because they can't take a knee in that moment. I had one timeout left, so I was going to try to force them to do it twice if I could. Sometimes it seems simple: the quarterback-center exchange, trying to get that ball out from the one-inch line."

The Bills tied the score 30-30 with a 29-yard field goal at the end of regulation, and held the Vikings to Greg Joseph's 33-yard field goal to start overtime after Cook was tackled for a 3-yard loss and Cousins was sacked for a 10-yard loss on first-and-goal from the 2.

Allen's status had been a closely-guarded secret all week after he injured the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow in a loss to the Jets last week, and Bills fans roared as he led the team out of the tunnel for pregame warmups.

The Pro Bowl quarterback threw for 330 yards and ran for 84 more, with 38 of them coming on a pair of scrambles that looked like they might set up a game-winning score in overtime. He quickly got the Bills in field-goal range, and at the Vikings 20, Buffalo had a chance to win the game when Allen targeted tight end Dawson Knox in the end zone.

By that point, the Vikings — who started the game with cornerback Cameron Dantzler on injured reserve — had lost Dantzler's replacement, rookie Akayleb Evans, because of a concussion, further thinning their secondary. But Duke Shelley, added to the active roster Saturday, broke up a would-be touchdown, and Patrick Peterson picked off Allen's throw behind Gabe Davis on the next play.

The Vikings had teetered perilously close to being blown out, trailing by 17 points late in the third quarter after Cousins threw two interceptions and the Vikings watched Allen lead three touchdown drives with strikes over the middle of the field to complement the Bills' running game.

Buffalo's defense — which had allowed 382 rushing yards the past two weeks — had held the Vikings to 25 in the game before Dalvin Cook ripped off an 81-yard touchdown run to make it 27-17 with 1:34 left in the third quarter.

The run, which was the longest of Cook's career, gave the Vikings a shot. Peterson's first interception — on a fourth-and-2 play at the Minnesota 7-yard line where he drifted back into the coverage scheme as a free defender after his man (Isaiah McKenzie) ran himself out of bounds — set up a 13-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a C.J. Ham 3-yard touchdown run to pull the Vikings within 27-23 after Greg Joseph missed the extra-point try.

The game's final minutes took the Vikings from elation to despair and back again. They emerged from it 8-1; they will face another NFC contender next Sunday when the Cowboys (6-3) come to town.

"Being battle-tested, I guess, is what you take from it," Cousins said. "Because you know, come January, you're going to need that."

Even if regular-season wins are somewhat of a fungible quality, it was tough to look at this win, against this team in these circumstances, and not believe it might mean something more.

"Look at us now. That's all I can say," Peterson said. "We're not trying to prove 'them' wrong. We're just trying to prove ourselves right, because we feel we are a really good football team that believes in one another. It showed again today. If we're not a good football team, how could we come back from that deficit? Look at us now."