Vikings edge Patriots in Thanksgiving shootout: Why Mac Jones’ career night wasn’t enough


The Minnesota Vikings edged the New England Patriots 33-26 in a Thanksgiving shootout in Minneapolis on Thursday night. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Adam Thielen broke a 26-26 tie with 9:34 remaining on a 15-yard touchdown that would hold as the game-winner.
  • Justin Jefferson – who helped set up Thielen’s TD with a 36-yard reception the play prior – racked up 139 yards and a touchdown on nine catches.
  • Mac Jones threw for a career-high 382 yards but was shut out by the Vikings in the fourth quarter.
  • The Vikings improve to 9-2 – the second-best record in the NFC behind the 9-1 Eagles – and snap a three-game winning streak for the Patriots (6-5).

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Mac Jones’ career night not enough

Jones played his best game of the season – and maybe his career – and it still wasn’t enough. After plenty of struggles this season, the second-year quarterback made some of his best throws yet, including deep balls to DeVante Parker and a beautiful third-down crosser to Jakobi Meyers. He completed 28 of 39 passes for 382 yards and two touchdowns. That was the most passing yards of his career. If he can play like that the rest of the season, it’ll go a long way for the Patriots’ playoff aspirations. — Graff

Patriots have no answer for Justin Jefferson

Even the Patriots had little an answer for Jefferson. The Pats boasted the league’s best secondary in the NFL entering this game (based on expected points added per play) and mostly used their top cornerback, Jonathan Jones, on Jefferson. But the Vikings’ star receiver still totaled a touchdown and 139 yards. Jones, meanwhile, notched an interception and a pass breakup in what was a matchup of two of the league’s best at their respective positions. — Graff

Costly mistakes hurt New England

The Patriots made some costly mistakes, including a running into the punter penalty that kept alive the Vikings’ game-winning drive. They also allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown, were whistled for six penalties, and botched their final drive of the first half, forced to settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown.

They finished 0-for-3 in the red zone. There were certainly some questionable decisions from referees, though. A would-be touchdown from Hunter Henry was wiped off the board without great explanation. Still, too many mistakes from the Patriots to win this one. — Graff 

Highlights of the night

Key stats

Jefferson broke the record for most receiving yards through a player’s first three seasons in NFL history with 139 on Thursday. He now has 4,248 career receiving yards – passing Randy Moss (4,163) and Odell Beckham Jr. (4,122) – with six games remaining in 2022.

Nwangwu’s 97-yarder was the first kickoff return TD allowed by the Patriots since the Bills’ C.J. Spiller in 2010, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Required reading

(Photo: Matt Krohn / USA Today)


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