Sun Nov 17 4:52pm ET
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) is sacked by Denver Broncos defensive tackle Shelby Harris (96) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph celebrates after catching a 32-yard touchdown pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) celebrates with teammate Bisi Johnson, right, after catching a 54-yard touchdown pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) fumbles as he is sacked by Denver Broncos defensive tackle Shelby Harris (96) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Minneapolis. The Broncos recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Denver Broncos fullback Andy Janovich (32) scores on a 1-yard touchdown run in front of Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker Eric Kendricks, right, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Vikings erased a 20-0 halftime deficit with touchdowns on each of their four drives in the second half, fending off the Denver Broncos by forcing three straight incomplete passes in the end zone over the final 10 seconds to preserve a 27-23 victory on Sunday.
This was the first time in five years - a span of 100 games including the playoffs - that an NFL team won after trailing by 20 or more points after two quarters.
Kirk Cousins went 29 for 35 for 319 yards and three scores for the Vikings (8-3), overcoming a system-wide failure in the first half that included a lost fumble of his during a sack that led to one of three field goals by Brandon McManus for the Broncos (3-7).
Cousins hit Stefon Diggs for a 54-yard touchdown pass that brought the crowd noise to a deafening level and cut the lead to 23-20. McManus went wide right from 41 yards on his fourth attempt, and Cousins found Kyle Rudolph wide open for a 32-yard score on the next possession with 6:10 left. Both of those throws by Cousins came off bootleg rollouts to his left, the type of passing play he has long thrived on.
Brandon Allen, the fill-in quarterback after the injury to Joe Flacco and the impending debut of rookie Drew Lock, admirably drove the Broncos to the cusp of a comeback of their own with a drive that included three fourth-down conversions.
With first-and-goal from the 4, but only 10 seconds and no timeouts remaining, Allen had three chances at the winner. Trae Waynes knocked down the first one, Jayron Kearse had a hand on the second one and the last try for Noah Fant sailed past the rookie tight end after he and Kearse tussled for position.
The Broncos have not scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter for six straight games. The last team guilty of such a severe second-half collapse was Atlanta on Oct. 26, 2014, when a 21-0 lead at home turned into a 22-21 victory for Detroit. According to Sportradar, this was only the 14th time in NFL history that a 20-plus-point halftime deficit turned into defeat.
The Vikings hardly could have played more poorly over the first two quarters. They punted on their first four possessions and already trailed 10-0 when they finally got a first down, finishing with just 47 total yards in the first half. With the deficit at 17-0, Cousins hit Diggs for a 34-yard gain that was wiped out by a holding penalty on left tackle Riley Reiff, who had a particularly difficult time against the pass rush.
The Broncos drove 90 yards for their first touchdown, a third-and-goal throw to tight end Troy Fumagalli for his first career score. They spiced up their play calling with repeated success, using a 38-yard reverse pass by Courtland Sutton to fellow wide receiver Tim Patrick. Sutton kept the ball on two more end-around plays during that drive, including a fourth-and-1 run from the 7 to set up their second touchdown.
One break went Minnesota's way, an ominous end to Denver's momentum. The kickoff after the field goal that followed the fumble by Cousins was fumbled and lost by Ameer Abdullah at the 17 by Josey Jewell with 60 seconds left. Allen's pass for Noah Fant on the next play was intercepted by Andrew Sendejo, preventing the Broncos from taking a four-score lead.
Broncos: FB Andy Janovich, who bulled his way into the end zone on a third-and-goal run from the 1 in the second quarter, hurt his elbow while being tackled at the end of a short reception and did not return.
Vikings: SS Harrison Smith hurt his hamstring in the fourth quarter and didn't return. LB Ben Gedeon suffered a concussion in the first quarter and was done for the day. Four other starters were already inactive: Adam Thielen, RG Josh Kline (concussion), NT Linval Joseph (knee) and FS Anthony Harris (groin).
Broncos: Facing a stretch of four road games in five weeks that began here in Minnesota, the Broncos play at Buffalo next Sunday. They've lost their last two road games against the Bills in 2017 and 2011.
Vikings: After the second-latest bye week on the schedule in team history - in 1991, they were off the weekend of Dec. 1 - the Vikings return to action on Dec. 2 at Seattle. This is their second straight year with a Monday night game on the road against the Seahawks in December.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (ribs, illness) is inactive for Week 15 against the Denver Broncos. Darwin Thompson, LeSean McCoy and Spencer Ware will shoulder the load for Kansas City. The Chiefs backfield isn't an ideal fantasy situation, though McCoy, who's had success running in snowy conditions, and Thompson are probably the safest choices.
Detroit Lions running back Bo Scarbrough (ribs) is officially inactive for Week 15 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Scarbrough wasn't able to practice on Thursday or Friday, so it was likely a longshot for him to play anyway. Ty Johnson, J.D. McKissic, and practice-squad call-up Wes Hills will lead the backfield in Scarbrough's absence. All are shaky plays, considering Tampa Bay possesses the league's best run defense.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller (hamstring) is officially active for Week 15 against the Tennessee Titans. When healthy, Fuller has been a difference-maker, averaging 7.6 targets and 74 receiving yards per game. He possesses considerable upside and could be worth a start in what should be a competitive divisional game. Fuller's presence is also a boost to quarterback Deshaun Watson's stock for this contest.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (knee, shoulder) is active for Week 15 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Edelman was optimistic about playing, though it's nice to get the official word. He's a must-start considering his eight-game streak with double-digit targets and the fact that Tom Brady doesn't seem to trust any other receiver in this offense right now.
The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Lane Johnson, DL Shareef Miller, OG Sua Opeta, DE Derek Barnett, QB Nate Sudfeld, RB Jordan Howard and WR Nelson Agholor inactive for Week 15.
Detroit Lions RB Bo Scarbrough (ribs) is not active for Week 15's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry (hamstring) is officially active for the team's Week 15 game.
Fantasy Spin: Henry should receive his normal workload this week and has been one of the top running backs in the NFL during the second half of the season. He is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues.
Houston Texans WR Will Fuller (hamstring) is officially active for the team's Week 15 game.
Fantasy Spin: Fuller will return to the lineup after missing some time because of his hamstring injury. He should see a handful of targets in the passing game but may not be more than a flex option in leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Damien Williams (rib) has been declared inactive for the team's Week 15 game.
New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (knee, shoulder) is officially active for the team's Week 15 game.
Fantasy Spin: Edelman should be the main option in the passing game for the Patriots this week and can be a No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.
According to a report by NFL's Ian Rapoport, the Cleveland Browns plan to retain Freddie Kitchens as their head coach after the season ends. Kitchens has gone through some growing pains as a first-time head coach, struggling with play calling at times while trying to manage some big egos in the Cleveland locker room. Despite the rough year, Kitchens is said to have support from the front office barring a late-season disaster. In what has seemed like a lost season at times, Kitchens and the Browns still have a chance to finish with a winning record, which would be just the third time that has happened since the team came back in 1999.
The New York Giants have declared TE Rhett Ellison, TE Evan Engram, OG Kevin Zeitler, QB Daniel Jones, OG Chad Slade and RB Wayne Gallman inactive for Week 15.
The Carolina Panthers have declared LB Christian Miller, OT Garrett McGhin, CB Corn Elder, TE Greg Olsen, DE Marquis Haynes, DL Woodrow Hamilton and LB Ramik Wilson inactive for Week 15.
The Tennessee Titans have declared WR Adam Humphries, CB Adoree' Jackson, LB Daren Bates, LB Sharif Finch, DE Matt Dickerson, DT Isaiah Mack and OG Kevin Pamphile inactive for Week 15.
The Washington Redskins have declared OG Brandon Scherff, TE Caleb Wilson, WR Trey Quinn, CB Quinton Dunbar, SS Josh Harvey-Clemons, OG Ross Pierschbacher and QB Colt McCoy inactive for Week 15.
According to Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is not planning on requesting a trade this offseason. This is a change from what Fox's Jay Glazer reported last week when he broke that Beckham has been telling opposing coaches and players to trade for him on-field before games. While it now appears that Beckham will stay in Cleveland, he is among a group of veterans who are hoping the team makes a few adjustments to the coaching staff and how roles are delegated for the 2020 season. Beckham is also said to be playing through a hernia injury although no decisions have been made in regards to his offseason plans just yet. A source told LaCanfora that the injury is not a major one and that surgery may not be a requirement this offseason.
The Denver Broncos have declared DL Adam Gotsis, OG Ronald Leary, CB Shakial Taylor, OT Ja'Wuan James, DE DeMarcus Walker, OT Calvin Anderson and DT Dre'Mont Jones inactive for Week 15.
The Kansas City Chiefs have declared QB Chad Henne, CB Morris Claiborne, OG Nick Allegretti, CB Rashad Fenton, RB Damien Williams, OT Jackson Barton and TE Deon Yelder inactive for Week 15.
The Detroit Lions have declared DL A'Shawn Robinson, OG Beau Benzschawel, RB Bo Scarbrough, QB Matthew Stafford, CB Michael Jackson, LB Christian Jones and OT Ricky Wagner inactive for Week 15.