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Kirk Cousins saves the day again to get Vikings to .500

Cousins' overtime toss to K.J. Osborn earned a 34-28 victory.
Kirk Cousins

For the second straight week, Kirk Cousins saved the Minnesota Vikings from a fourth-quarter meltdown, throwing a touchdown to K.J. Osborn in overtime to earn a 34-28 victory.

The game started out well as the defense took control of the game on the first play. Bashaud Breeland intercepted Sam Darnold. With the ball in prime field position but the Vikings had to settle for a field goal to get on the board.

Despite the early points, it took a while for the offense to get going. Justin Jefferson fumbled midway through the first quarter and it led to a two-yard run from Chuba Hubbard to take a 7-3 lead.

The Vikings responded with an 11-play drive but had to settle for another field goal. After stopping Carolina on the following drive, Minnesota found the end zone when Kirk Cousins connected with Chris Herndon to take the lead.

A failed two-point conversion put Minnesota ahead 12-7 and a Zayne Gonzalez field goal sent the Vikings into the locker room with a 12-10 lead.

Despite the defense holding their end of the bargain, the Vikings were suspect in other areas including special teams. A blocked punt was returned for a touchdown by Kenny Robinson to put Carolina ahead 17-12 but that's when the Vikings opened things up offensively.

An aggressive drive saw the Vikings march down the field and Dalvin Cook finished off the drive with a 16-yard touchdown run to put Minnesota back in front.

That paved the way to add to the lead with a five-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Adam Thielen. Thielen finished the afternoon with 11 catches for 126 yards to help Minnesota to go ahead 25-17.

Another field goal by Joseph put Minnesota up 28-17 but the same conservative decision-making by Mike Zimmer gave the Panthers a chance to get back into the game. 

Carolina responded with a field goal of their own to make it a one-possession game. With a chance to put the Panthers away, the Vikings tried to kill the clock and had to give the ball back to Carolina.

The ensuing punt saw Tyler Conklin down the ball at the two-yard line but Sam Darnold led a 98-yard drive that saw the Panthers convert twice on fourth down and ended with a touchdown pass to Robby Anderson. After Darnold connected with Tommy Tremble for the two-point conversion, the Panthers tied the game at 28-28.

Cousins tried to save the Vikings with a last-minute drive but a 47-yard field goal from Greg Joseph sailed wide right and sent the game to overtime. But the Vikings won the coin toss and Cousins promptly led Minnesota back down the field.

With the game on the line, Cousins finished off a 373-yard performance with a 27-yard touchdown to Osborn to finish off the Panthers and earn the victory.

The win puts the Vikings at 3-3 heading into the bye week but will have a tough path to cross when they return for a Halloween night showdown with the Dallas Cowboys.

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Matthew Coller writes a weekly Vikings column for BMTN, with more of his work found at Purple Insider.