Entering the 2022 NFL season with a new regime in place on the coaching staff and in the front office, many were interested to see how the new year would go for the Minnesota Vikings. The team is under the leadership of general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell.
With over half of the regular season in the books, Minnesota has surprised many while still being somewhat of an underdog story through 10 weeks of the year. Entering the Week 11 contest against the Dallas Cowboys, the Vikings have remained atop both the NFC and NFL standings, currently sitting as one of the top teams throughout the league.
Even with this hot start, some are still not buying the legitimacy of the purple and gold now heading into the home stretch of the regular season. Right after the performance against the Buffalo Bills in Week 10, many are starting to pay attention to Minnesota while giving it some recognition and love that it has earned.
The Week 10 showdown on the road not only provided a catch of the year in the game of the year, but it also showcased that the Vikings could be the team of the year in the NFL in 2022.
Minnesota Vikings: Catch of the Year, Game of the Year, Team of the Year?
Catch of the Year
With Minnesota down 27-23 with two minutes left in the Week 10 matchup on the road in Buffalo, the Vikings were attempting to put together a late-game drive to take a lead late against the Bills.
With hope dwindling as time was winding down, Minnesota was faced with a 4th and 18 coming out of the two-minute warning, forced to air the ball out and take a shot at getting a first down to extend hope or have the game come to an end after turning the ball over on downs.
What ended up taking place was the catch of the year already in the NFL, with Kirk Cousins dropping back in the pocket to find Justin Jefferson who made a mind-blowing one-handed catch that will go down as one of the best in league history.
— NFL (@NFL) November 13, 2022
Not only was that the catch of the year, but it saved the game for Minnesota in what ended up being the game of the year when things were all said and done.
Game of the Year
Throughout the Week 10 contest, Buffalo held the upper hand over Minnesota, even leading by as much as 14 points with 18 minutes to go in the game. The Vikings didn’t give up and climbed back into the game even having a chance to take a lead with 50 seconds remaining following Jefferson’s catch-of-the-year moment.
With 50 seconds left, Minnesota attempted to get cute in trying to overcome a 27-23 deficit but came up short on a Cousins quarterback sneak attempt that ended at the Bills one-yard line. With Buffalo taking over on downs, the game seemed to be over, already providing a game-of-the-year candidate between two talented teams until the Vikings pulled off the unthinkable.
On first down after turning the Vikings over, Buffalo fumbled the ball at the one-yard line and Minnesota recovered the fumble while landing on the ball in the endzone for a touchdown. With less than a minute left, the Vikings had a 30-27 lead. The Bills didn’t give up, however, driving down the field to kick a late-game field goal to send the game into overtime. In the extra frame, Minnesota pulled ahead early with a field goal to take a 33-30 advantage, only to see Buffalo once again drive down the field to put itself in a position to either tie the game with a field goal or win it with a touchdown.
The Vikings were able to step up with one final defensive stop, intercepting Josh Allen to end the game and pull off an improbable and impossible victory. There is still plenty of season left to be played, but the game between Minnesota and Buffalo was without a doubt already the game of the year in the NFL.
With the catch of the year in the game of the year, the Vikings made their case to be considered the team of the year in the league this season. Entering Week 11, there is no more denying the team should be taken seriously in 2022.
Team of the Year?
Over the first half of the regular season, despite Minnesota’s impressive record that features one loss that came to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2 on Monday Night Football, many haven’t taken the Vikings seriously even with that dominant record.
Part of the reason for the lack of respect and taking Minnesota seriously is the team not playing an incredibly tough schedule while more often than not barely coming away with victories on a weekly basis. In Week 10, many viewed that as the first real test for the Vikings while entering Buffalo to face a Super Bowl contender on their home field.
With Minnesota coming away with the big road victory, it improved to 8-1 overall and into a tie with the Eagles atop the NFC through 10 weeks of the regular season. After finally completing that signature victory, the Vikings could now be viewed as the team of the year in the NFL while looking to be on the way to the first postseason appearance in two years.
If Minnesota is able to continue this strong wave the rest of the season and into the playoffs is yet to be seen. But the Vikings have proven to everyone they could be the team of the year in 2022, and the latest example of that is the catch of the year that occurred in the game of the year in Week 10 against Buffalo. The purple and gold have officially entered the Super Bowl contender conversation, now they hope they can continue that positive wave to finish out the regular season.