Vikings-Colts: Inside the numbers behind the biggest comeback in NFL history


Saturday’s early NFL game between the Colts and Vikings in Minneapolis shaped up to be a virtual NFC North championship coronation for Minnesota. And it did end that way, with a 39-36 overtime win for the Vikings. But what happened in between was remarkable and historic. Here are some numbers that marked the matchup, the largest comeback in NFL history:

— Despite entering the game with a 10-3 record, the Vikings started today with a season plus-minus of minus-one.

— Since 2000, 148 teams have had 10-plus wins in their first 14 games. After that stinker of a first half, the 2022 Vikings rank 147th among that group in first-half point differential (-28). Only the 2005 Jags (-34) were worse, and that team lost in the wild-card round of the playoffs.

— The previous record for biggest deficit overcome to win a game (regular or postseason) was 32 points. The Bills trailed the Oilers 35-3 in the 1993 AFC Wild Card game and rallied to win 41-38 in overtime.

— As a Bills QB, Frank Reich helped engineer the 32-point come-from-behind win that stood as the biggest comeback in NFL history (regular or postseason). The Colts — the team that fired Reich as head coach in November — gave up the comeback that knocked him from atop the record book.

— Minnesota’s previous largest comeback in team history was 23 points, which happened in a 1985 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles when the Vikings scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to win. That was in the final win of Bud Grant’s career.

— The Colts’ 33-0 halftime lead, their largest halftime lead since 1997 against the Dolphins. And they entered the game last in the NFL in halftime scoring margin at minus-84.

— In the second halves of their past two games combined, the Colts have been outscored 69-9.

— Against Dallas in Week 13, Indianapolis allowed 33 points in the fourth quarter, the second highest fourth quarter total in league history.

— In the second half, Vikings WR Justin Jefferson topped the 1,600-yard mark for the season (entered with NFL-high 1,500) and the 300-catch mark for his career (he entered the day with 295). In doing so, Jefferson joined…

  • Michael Thomas and Christian McCaffrey as the only players in NFL history to record 300-plus catches in their first three seasons.
  • Calvin Johnson (2011-12) and Antonio Brown (2014-15) as the only players in NFL history to post back-to-back 1,600-yard receiving seasons.

— This was Kirk Cousins’ NFL-high seventh fourth-quarter comeback this season. He had eight in the previous three seasons combined.

— In overtime, Matt Ryan had his NFL-high 15th fumble of the season. The Colts recovered.

— Finally, according to Yahoo Sports, NFL teams were 1,548-1-1 when leading by 30 or more points dating back to 1930. After the Vikings’ historic comeback Saturday, those teams are now 1,548-2-1.

(Photo: Stephen Maturen / Getty Images)


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