Justin Jefferson, OPOY? Can Packers build on huge win? NFC North takeaways

Week 10 was a fun one in the NFC North. All four teams scored at least 30 points, two of them against other division opponents, and man, that Vikings game…

Green Bay also did its best to match Minnesota’s thriller against Buffalo. The Packers upset the Cowboys at Lambeau Field, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers remains the Cowboys’ spark. Entering the game, Rodgers was 7-2 all-time against Dallas, including 2-0 in the postseason, and as we’ve seen repeatedly, he can never be counted out. It made a three-touchdown performance by rookie wide receiver Christian Watson another game-changer for Dallas fans.

Let’s take a look back at Sunday’s split, shall we?

The Vikings are for real…and it has a lot to do with defense

It may seem counterintuitive to praise the defense in a game where the opponent scored 30 points, but the Minnesota Vikings have the clutch gene this season and that’s as true on the defensive side of the ball as it is on the offensive side (more more on that later).

Yes, Buffalo had double-digit leads three times throughout the game and the Bills were able to jump out to as many as 17 points in the third quarter, but the defense came through when the offense needed it, especially in the second half , which made it possible to reduce the difference.

Vikings force Josh Allen to fumble for goal line, score WILD TD against Bills

Vikings force Josh Allen to fumble for goal line, score WILD TD against Bills

The Minnesota Vikings forced Josh Allen to fumble for the goal line and use the timely TD to eventually pull out a 33-30 win in OT.

Their pass rush was sparked when Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter combined for the Vikings’ first sack of the day on Josh Allen. He went on third down on the Buffalo ball after Dane Jackson’s interception of Kirk Cousins. He kept the Bills from taking what would have been a three-point, and perhaps insurmountable, lead.

Then there was the contribution of one Patrick Peterso, who paved the way for back-to-back scores by the Minnesota offense thanks to his interception of Allen in the end zone early in the third quarter. He returned the ball 39 yards to the Minnesota 34 and Cousins ​​drove the rest of the way to bring the Vikings within four points, after Greg Joseph’s unusual extra point miss.

And just when it looked like Minnesota had run out of juice (and time), turning it over on downs with just 41 seconds to play at the 1-yard line, the unthinkable happened: Allen went for it. Linebacker Eric Kendricks fell on the ball for a defensive score that put Minnesota ahead by three points.

In the most unimaginable final minute of the game, Buffalo got another possession and forced overtime, which is admittedly a defensive blemish on the day. The Vikings made up for it, or should I say, Peterson made up for it, after the offense stalled in overtime, with just a field goal. The Bills were looking at the goal line again before Allen’s fourth interception in the end zone in the last two games, as Peterson picked it back and sealed the game.

This team continues to overcome adversity because of the complementary football they are playing. When the attack fails, the defense picks them up, and vice versa. It was an instant classic and a microcosm of the Vikings’ season overall: They can be down, but they never come out, and they find a way to win.

Justin Jefferson making his case for Offensive Player of the Year

I can’t talk about the game without mentioning the player who could end the season as the league’s Offensive Player of the Year. Jefferson is top two, and in my opinion, he is not two. Talk about having a clutch gene, he’s completely clutch. By the time the game ended, Jefferson had set another career high in rushing yards with 193 on 10 catches with a touchdown.

More than the sheer volume of yards, it was how he got them that was impressive. Most importantly, see what might be the greatest catch in NFL history below. No hyperbole.

Not only did he make the one-handed fingertip catch, but it was in the defender’s hands as a contested catch on fourth-and-18 as the Vikings’ last prayer (or so they thought). Given that context, there’s no doubt that this catch has dethroned Odell Beckham Jr.’s “The Catch,” and I don’t think it’s particularly close.

Read more: Was Justin Jefferson’s catch better than OBJ’s?

Even if Jefferson’s stunts weren’t enough to impress you, or convince you that we’re looking at the best offensive player in the league, maybe his blocking, of all things, could tip the balance. That is correct. blocking Our own Geoff Schwartz pointed it out, but on Dalvin Cook’s 81-yard touchdown run, it was Jefferson who got a one-on-one matchup with the Buffalo defender who took full advantage as he outran him by foot. the end zone. It was the score that completely turned things around for the Vikings and set the stage for their incredible comeback.

Jefferson, like his team, is the real deal and shows no signs of slowing down as Minnesota continues its tear through the season.

Chaining lions together wins

There’s something in the water up north, because all of these teams were productive, each scoring at least 30 points in Week 10 but also responding to adversity. The Lions, who were in line for the No. 1 overall pick earlier this season, have come off back-to-back wins over division opponents.

It hasn’t been easy either. The Bears looked like they were about to run away with Sunay’s game, coming out of the half and taking a two-goal lead to Detroit. Receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown had another fantastic match, this time facing his brother and with his parents in the stands. He finished the game catching 10 of 11 targets for 119 yards. He had six catches early in the second quarter. Between him and some aggressive play by coach Dan Campbell, the Lions were able to take advantage of a missed extra point and score to go up by one point.

The defense then held that lead, coming through a Justin Fields sack to end the game in a fourth-and-8 situation. Although Fields broke multiple tackles, the Lions defense swarmed him and Julian Okwara he was finally able to bring it down to essentially end the game.

Criminal convictions bears‘ progress, progress

The biggest thorn in Chicago’s side in their loss to the Lions was, well, themselves.

The Bears had four penalties that resulted in 41 yards for Detroit in the second quarter. The final quarter was a litany of mistakes that also gave the Lions additional opportunities.

Linebacker Jack Sanborn, who had a career day with 12 combined tackles, two sacks and two tackles for loss, had an interception denied on cornerback Jaylon Johnson’s second straight penalty. Safety Jaquan Brisker had also been called for a late hit on the drive. He led the Lions to a score and then a picksix doomed them, though Jeff Okudah’s interception return for a touchdown only tied the game. Fields atoned for his mistake with a 67-yard touchdown run, but then the defense ran out of gas, allowing Detroit to cover the field and go up by one.

That’s all right. The bears are still knitting and learning. These self-inflicted wounds will pass in this process, but the encouraging part is that they can be fixed. And that’s what Chicago will end up doing.

Rodgers believes the Packers can build on the win over the Cowboys

Things looked doomed for the Packers on more than one occasion Sunday night against the Cowboys. But going into the half, it looked like Dallas was going to run away with the game. Running back Tony Pollard scored on a 13-yard run after a fumbled punt return by beleaguered Packers special teamer Amari Rodgers. The Cowboys defense then forced a three-and-out behind an Aaron Rodgers third-down sack and on their next possession, scored again. He outscored Green Bay 28-14 in a game he once appeared to be in control of. But then they gave Dallas the same treatment, scoring on back-to-back drives and coming alive once again.

So was this a turning point?

“I think so,” Rodgers said after the game. “I do. And that’s what I told them in the locker room, it was a turning point for us. Hopefully, a turning point that leads us on a streak. This was an opportunity for the guys to (go), ‘Yeah. , it’s not our season, 3-7, what we do in the offseason, it’s not going to be our year.'”

Aaron Rodgers, Packers upset Cowboys 31-28 OT | THE MANAT

Aaron Rodgers, Packers upset Cowboys 31-28 OT |  THE MANAT

James Jones joins Colin Cowherd on The Herd to discuss the Green Bay Packers 31-28 overtime win over the Dallas Cowboys.

But they fought back and hope this is a metaphor for the rest of the season.

“Last week was definitely a little bit lower, for sure,” Rodgers said. “Not in a depressive, isolationist way, but more disappointment, and I felt that was the bottom line, and it was just from there. I think a lot of the battles we face are between me and me, between the person that they can go out there and dominate, and know they can, and the little voice in your head that’s trying to knock you off that perch of confidence you’re in. I’m glad I put that voice back in hell and perform well today.”

Read more: Aaron Rodgers is far from the Cowboys’ scariest problem after the OT loss

Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, adding the title of Super Bowl champion (and boat parade participant) to her resume. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.

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