Bollocks! Saints foiled in London by double-doink field goal miss

Published 3:22 pm Sunday, October 2, 2022

LONDON (AP) — Justin Jefferson bounced back from two quiet games and Greg Joseph made amends for a missed extra point.

The Vikings star receiver scored a touchdown and beat Marshon Lattimore on a 39-yard reception to set up Joseph’s 47-yard field goal with 24 seconds left and Minnesota hung on for a 28-25 win over New Orleans on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Many of the Vikings (3-1), though, thought they were headed to overtime when Saints kicker Wil Lutz lined up for his 61-yard tying attempt. And why not? Lutz had hit a 60-yarder on their previous possession.

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletter

Receive daily headlines and obituaries

This one had the distance but hit the left upright and then the crossbar before bouncing out as time expired.

“When it left his foot I thought it was going in,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said. “It felt like that thing had a real good chance to go through and obviously a couple of bounces later we’re able to walk off as the winning team.”

Joseph’s go-ahead kick came after he had missed an extra point earlier in the quarter after Jefferson ran it in from 3 yards with 4:15 left in the fourth quarter.

The missed kick left the Vikings with a 25-22 lead.

The Saints then had an eight-play drive and Lutz made a 60-yard field goal with 1:51 left to tie the game for the Saints (1-3), who have lost three straight games.

“I thought they were both in,” Lutz said. “I hit them both on the screws. The second one just moved a little more left. So kind of shocked it didn’t bounce in.”

Jefferson had 10 receptions for 147 yards after being limited to a total of nine receptions and 62 yards in the past two games, He was pleased to finally see some single coverage.

“Lattimore pretty much followed me the whole game, pretty much was a one-on-one battle the majority of the game,” Jefferson said. “I was telling (O’Connell) the whole game we should throw it up, give me a chance to go up and make a big play.”

Joseph was 5-for-5 on field goals as the Vikings squandered multiple scoring chances, but still held off a New Orleans team that played without key starters including quarterback Jameis Winston and running back Alvin Kamara.

Kirk Cousins completed 25 of 38 passes for 273 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. The Vikings under O’Connell are off to their best start since going 4-0 in 2016.

The Saints arrived early in the week to acclimate to the time difference but their losing streak is now at three games under coach Dennis Allen. The Vikings improved to 3-0 all-time in games played in London.

“We still have to find a way to not hurt ourselves with penalties and the turnovers, and that’s got to change,” Allen said.

Down 16-7, Saints backup quarterback Andy Dalton led two scoring drives to help New Orleans take a 22-19 lead. Saints tight end/quarterback Taysom Hill took a direct snap and ran it in from 2 yards for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter and Dalton found a wide-open Jarvis Landry for the two-point conversion.

Dalton completed 20 of 28 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown.

After the Saints cut Minnesota’s lead to 16-14 on Latavius Murray’s 1-yard run late in the third quarter, the Vikings drove again and Joseph made it 19-14 with a 46-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

The Saints began slowly again despite emphasizing a quick start all week. Alexander Mattison weaved through traffic for a 15-yard touchdown reception on Minnesota’s opening drive.

The Saints had no first downs in the first quarter, but safety Tyrann Mathieu intercepted a pass and Dalton then drove the Saints 60 yards and found Chris Olave for a 4-yard touchdown pass — the rookie’s first NFL touchdown — to make it 7-7 early in the second quarter.

The Vikings squandered two good opportunities deep in Saints territory late in the second quarter. Tight end Johnny Mundt dropped a short pass on a third-and-1 from the 10 and Minnesota opted for a field goal.

On the next possession, Dalton fumbled on a strip-sack by Za’Darius Smith and Dalvin Tomlinson to give the Vikings the ball on the 20. They again settled for 3 points after an incompletion and a false start penalty. Joseph’s 36-yard field goal gave the Vikings a 13-7 lead going into halftime.

“I told the team in there, there was some really good things that we did today,” Allen said. “But it’s hard to overcome some of those costly turnovers, and I think the fake punt and the two turnovers I think led to nine points, so in a game like that, those things are costly.”