Sun Nov 17 4:52pm ET
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer
Players: Joe Flacco, Kirk Cousins, Kyle Rudolph, Brandon McManus, Ameer Abdullah, Brandon Allen, Andy Janovich, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Troy Fumagalli, Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton, Drew Lock, Noah Fant
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.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is currently the fantasy QB4, and while his opponent this Sunday -- the Denver Broncos -- are allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing passers this season, you've still got to trust Watson and deploy him as your starting fantasy quarterback. He's coming off a strong performance against New England's league-best defense in which he threw for three touchdowns and also caught one on an option play, so we've definitely seen Watson succeed in tough spots.
Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde is coming his worst performance of the season, a 10-carry, 17-yard outing against a strong Patriots Defense. Now, he's about to face a Broncos Defense that's allowing the eighth-fewest yards per carry to opposing running backs, which is bad news for Hyde, who's shown a tendency to struggle at times this season. His volume should give him a chance to produce something, but he still shouldn't be considered more than a low-end RB3 this week.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph has scored a touchdown in his last four games played and is now up to six for the season. He'll look to keep the scoring streak going against the Lions Defense as the nominal No. 2 "receiver" in the offense with Adam Thielen (hamstring) again out. Rudolph has clearly gained the trust of Kirk Cousins in the red zone and has seen at least five targets in five of his last six games played. Though his yardage totals will never blow anyone away, few tight ends can match his propensity for finding the end zone and he has to be kept in lineups as a low-end TE1 at this point (as long as Thielen remains out). Start him as such in Week 14's home matchup against the Detroit Lions.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison has a chance to see an increased workload in Week 14's home matchup against the Detroit Lions. Starter Dalvin Cook (chest) was removed from the injury report and is in line to start, but the risk of re-injury certainly remains. The Vikings are favored by 13 points and have the highest projected total this week, and Mattison has had some of his best fantasy performances in blowouts this season. They could also choose to rest Cook completely if they build a big enough lead. Mattison has made the most of his opportunities this season (4.8 yards per carry), and you'll want him in your flex spot if he's going to get more than his typical 5-12 touch workload against the shoddy Lions Defense. He's not for the faint of heart, but Mattison is startable in deep leagues as a flex option in Week 14.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram left the start of practice on Saturday and went into the training facilities. His departure from practice alongside Daniel Jones (ankle) is cause for concern considering Pat Shurmur indicated on Friday that he knows foot injuries like Engrams take a while to recover from. If Engram isnt able to come out and take part in any drills today, it would be a bad sign for his status on Monday night. Rhett Ellison would start in his place and be on the TE2 radar. His potential upside would be capped since the Giants have all their wide receivers healthy, and Eli Manning doesnt use the tight end as much as Daniel Jones did.
Detroit Lions WR Kenny Golladay, who has one year remaining on his rookie deal, said that he is open to signing a contract extension with the team during the offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Golladay appears poised to have his second consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season and an extension could make him one of the NFL's highest-paid receivers. He is currently tied for sixth in the league in receiving yards (950), ranked first in touchdown receptions (nine) and is second in the league with 20.2 yards per catch. Golladay will continue to serve as Detroit's main option in their passing game and should be a WR2 or WR3 in all fantasy leagues despite the Lions' current quarterback situation.
Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (wrist) expects to be activated from the Reserve/Injured list in order to play in Week 14's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He was designated for return from injured reserve Nov. 20, and has participated in several practice sessions since then.
Fantasy Spin: Njoku has a very favorable matchup versus the Cincinnati defense this weekend, so he can be viewed as a high-end TE2 with TE1 upside in most fantasy formats.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd has been on a roll as of late and will look to stay on course against Cleveland on Sunday. Boyd racked up 10 catches on 19 targets over his previous two outings, while also adding 160 yards and two touchdowns. John Ross (chest) will be back in the picture after missing some time, but Boyd is still an acceptable option in most fantasy leagues in Week 14, especially if you have nowhere else to turn.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon has started to show signs of life as the season heads into the final stretch and will look to stay on track against Cleveland on Sunday. While the Browns have been effective against the run over the last four weeks, at least on paper, by allowing a third-best 16.73 fantasy points per game to opposing backs, the 23-year-old may be the most potent rusher that they have seen since Chris Carson back in Week 6. Mixon scored his first rushing touchdown of the year against Oakland and followed that up by recording another against the Jets in Week 13. He still has some work to do from a consistency standpoint, but he will likely keep trending in the right direction throughout the remainder of the season.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton made his return to the lineup against the Jets after a three-game absence and played relatively well, throwing for 243 yards and a touchdown on 23-for-37 passing. While the Browns Defense isn't horrible, Dalton has played historically well against them throughout his career, making his outlook more promising than usual, especially with John Ross (chest) back in the lineup. If you need a quarterback with a solid upside in Week 14, Dalton could be your guy.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel will look to build off of the efficient showing that he had against the Redskins. After struggling against the Saints in Week 12, Samuel got his act together in Week 13 by finishing with four catches for 65 yards and a score against Washington. While that wasn't the most brilliant fantasy performance that we've seen out of the 23-year-old, he has the potential to score on any given week. With Greg Olsen (concussion) out against Atlanta, look for Samuel to get some extra attention from Kyle Allen, making him a decent option in deeper formats.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore has been one of the most productive fantasy options as of late and will look to keep things moving against Atlanta on Sunday. After recording just one touchdown throughout his first 10 games of the season, Moore has three over the last two weeks. He hasn't been targeted less than eight times in each of his previous eight games and should retain his must-start status in all fantasy formats in Week 14.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey had arguably the worst performance of the season, at least as a runner, against the Redskins in Week 13. While he had a favorable matchup against one of the league's worst defenses, the 23-year-old had just 44 yards on 14 attempts to go along with an acceptable seven catches for 58 yards. That game marked only the third time all season that he failed to record a touchdown, but he should get back on track against Atlanta after playing well against them just a few weeks ago.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen has a difficult matchup on Sunday against the Falcons Defense. Atlanta has played well against opposing quarterbacks, especially as of late, and held Drees Brees to just one touchdown toss during the Thanksgiving matchup with New Orleans, while also forcing Allen to throw four picks just a few weeks ago. The 23-year-old is a different player than what we saw after he initially took over for Cam Newton (foot) earlier in the year, and should remain out of starting lineups across the board in Week 14.
Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (hands) suffered a sprained left hand and also injured the index finger on his throwing hand during the team's Week 14 loss to the Chicago Bears. Prescott is not expected to miss time.
Fantasy Spin: Replays showed Prescott banging his hand on a follow through so it's hardly a shocker that he sustained an injury of some kind. Right now the expectation is Prescott will be good to go against the Rams in Week 15.
Seattle Seahawks CB Neiko Thorpe (core) underwent surgery for a sports hernia and will miss the remainder of the season, according to head coach Pete Carroll.
The Seattle Seahawks re-signed DB Brian Allen to the practice squad on Friday, Dec. 6.
Kansas City Chiefs DE Breeland Speaks (knee) was suspended for four games on Friday, Dec. 6. Speaks was already out of the season with a knee injury.
The Seattle Seahawks signed free agent LB Jermaine Grace (Falcons) to the practice squad Thursday, Dec. 5. In a corresponding move, DB Brian Allen was released.
Miami Dolphins CB Ken Crawley (shoulder) cleared waivers and reverted to the team's Reserve/Injured list on Thursday, Dec. 5.