This is my quick-reaction post filed immediately after the Vikings game. My full column will be online at startribune.com later tonight and in the Monday paper.
The Vikings’ playoff hopes were dashed, then upgraded.
They were about to lose a second straight disheartening loss at home, then they were celebrating.
Kirk Cousins came up short, then started throwing long.
They watched a long field goal soar through the air with seconds remaining. It hooked left, and they had won.
Their improbable and often strange 28-27 victory over Carolina kept them from losing a second straight home game to a losing team, and may have kept them in playoff contention.
Early in the fourth quarter of their game on Sunday against Carolina, the Vikings took the ball in their own territory, trailing by 11 points, needing a victory to maintain any realistic hope of making the playoffs.
Cousins took the snap and began to drop back. Guard Dakota Dozier stepped on his foot, and Cousins fell.
In soccer, that kind of play is known as an own goal. For the Vikings, it was a self-sack. And that was emblematic of their play, until they drove 75 yards in the last two minutes to win on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Chad Beebe.
The Vikings’ defense didn’t produce a sack. Their offense didn’t produce a 20-yard play until the final minutes. But they did just enough to survive a game in which they allowed defensive touchdowns to the same Carolina rookie on consecutive plays.
The Vikings welcome Jacksonville on Sunday with a chance to get to 6-6 and set up a meaningful game against Tom Brady and the Bucs on Dec. 13 in Tampa.