The Patriots, playing in their first Thanksgiving game in a decade, lost their momentum in the fourth quarter and fell to the Minnesota Vikings, 33-26, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Thursday.
The game featured five lead changes and four ties, and snapped the Patriots’ three-game win streak.
Mac Jones finished with 382 yards and 2 touchdown passes. He attempted 39 passes, completing 28 of them. DeVante Parker led Patriots receivers with 80 yards on four catches, and Rhamondre Stevenson had 7 carries for 36 yards.
For the Vikings, Justin Jefferson had 9 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown. Dalvin Cook was Minnesota’s leading rusher, with 42 yards on 22 attempts.
The two teams went back and forth in the first half, with Jones finding Nelson Agholor for a 34-yard touchdown pass and Nick Folk connecting on three field goals (34, 26, and 23 yards), the last of which left the game tied at 16 entering the second half.
The two teams scored 10 points each in the third, with Jones hitting Hunter Henry on a 37-yard touchdown pass. It was Henry’s second TD catch of his Patriots career.
But on the ensuing kickoff, the Vikings answered. Kene Nwangwu returned the kick 97 yards for a touchdown.
That set the stage for a wild fourth quarter.
The Vikings gained an advantage when officials called a roughing-the-punter penalty on Patriots rookie Pierre Strong midway through the quarter. Buoyed by the extra opportunity, Kirk Cousins found Adam Thielen for a 15-yard touchdown pass to give Minnesota a 33-26 lead they would not give up.
The 6-5 Patriots will face the Buffalo Bills on Thursday at Gillette Stadium.
Read more about the game:
- Christopher L. Gasper: Patriots should be thankful for one thing on an otherwise disappointing holiday — Mac is back
- Instant Analysis: Vikings were the first real test for the Patriots’ defense, and it didn’t meet the moment
- Between the hash marks: Patriots fail to keep up with the Vikings in the fourth quarter and lose in the end
- Hear officials explain why Hunter Henry’s second-half touchdown was overturned
Takeaways from what Bill Belichick said after the game — 12:25 a.m.
A few takeaways from Bill Belichick’s postgame press conference:
▪ He wasn’t happy with the overturned touchdown call in he second half that took seven points off the scoreboard. While he didn’t address it directly, he was clearly annoyed at the outcome.
“Why don’t you guys go to the officials, with the pool reporters and ask them to explain it to you?” he said. “Isn’t that what you do? Thank you.”
▪ The mistakes the Patriots made were fatal.
“Disappointed to come up a little bit short. Just had too many mistakes,” he said. “And that was the difference in the game.”
▪ On the work of the offense, which included a career-high 382 passing yards for Mac Jones: “Good at times. Three-for-10 on third down. Not really good enough.”
▪ He also described Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson as good players: “Cousins was tough. He made a lot of good plays, throws, checks. He’s a good player.”
On Jefferson: “He’s not the only good receiver we’re not going to see this year. He’s a good player - no doubt about it.”
Instant analysis: The Patriots defense didn’t meet the moment — 12:15 a.m.
By Ben Volin
Mac Jones and the offense broke out of their funk. And the officiating was pretty terrible. But the story of the night was that the Patriots’ defense finally played a real quarterback and a real offense, and looked decidedly average.
The Patriots beat up on the likes of Zach Wilson, Sam Ehlinger, and Mitchell Trubisky to rack up the stats and enter Thursday’s game with the No. 2 scoring defense. But Kirk Cousins and the Vikings didn’t have much trouble slicing up the Patriots’ defense. Cousins was 30 for 37 for 299 yards and three touchdowns, the Vikings held the ball for 36:17, and the Vikings authored four long drives of 80, 75, 72, and 65 yards, to secure the win.
One bright side? That was Jones’s best game of the season — 12:10 a.m.
Mac Jones played his best game of the season in defeat Thursday night, throwing for a career-high 382 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the 33-26 loss.
Jones delivered touchdown passes to Nelson Agholor and Hunter Henry. While he was denied a third touchdown pass because of an overturned call on a pass play to Henry, it’ll go down as one of the finest outings of Jones’s career so far, one that was magnified by the fact that the Patriots were missing two starting offensive linemen.
“I think we all played with effort and toughness,” Jones said. “That’s all you can ask for.
“We have to keep working and coming together and just continue to build off adversity,” he added. “We have to flip the switch here and figure it out.”
Without starting center David Andrews and tackle Isaiah Wynn, Jones was well protected all evening. Jones singled out their work.
“They did a great job,” he said. “All those guys just doing their job on every play.
“Hats off to them for playing a great game.”
Jones, Stevenson weigh in on overturned TD — 12:00 a.m.
The key play in Thursday’s loss to the Vikings was the decision to overturn a New England touchdown in the third quarter, forcing the Patriots to settle for a field goal.
The officials determined that Hunter Henry didn’t have possession when he crossed the goal line. The play was initially ruled a touchdown, but overturned on review.
The Patriots settled for a 25-yard field goal from Nick Folk. New England ended up taking a 26-23 lead, but the Vikings answered with 10 fourth-quarter points to come away with the win.
Henry wasn’t happy about the call on the field, and made his feelings known afterward.
“One call can’t determine the outcome,” Jones said when asked about the overturned touchdown.
“We didn’t have [any] say in that. The referees will call the game the way they see it, regardless,” said running back Rhamondre Stevenson. “We just need ti find a way to win at the end of the day.”
Henry: I thought I caught it — 11:52 p.m.
Hunter Henry said he thought he did complete the catch that would have resulted in a Patriots touchdown in the third quarter.
The play was originally ruled a touchdown, but overturned after a review.
The Patriots settled for a field goal instead, making it 26-23.
Here’s Henry’s full response to the question:
Vikings win — 11:23 p.m.
A final drive was not fruitful for the Patriots.
Vikings’ Hunter finally gets to Mac Jones — 11:15 p.m.
Danielle Hunter took down Mac Jones to force the Patriots into fourth and 16 at the two-minute warning.
Watch the play here:
Patriots force a punt. Can they pull this one out? — 11:10 p.m.
Good sequence there for the New England defense, as it forced a punt. The Patriots will take over at their 13 with 4:21 to go in regulation.
Adam Thielen hauls one in to put the Vikings up — 10:57 p.m.
Vikings 33, Patriots 26 | 9:34, fourth quarter
The drive: 6 plays, 71 yards, 3:32
The Vikings made New England pay for that last penalty.
Two plays after the flag on Pierre Strong, Kirk Cousins delivered a great ball to Justin Jefferson for a 36-yard pass play that got Minnesota into the Patriots’ red zone. Right after that, Cousins zipped a touchdown pass to Thielen for the score, making it 33-26 with 9:34 to go. There’s a lot of time left, but in a close game, that’s the sort of sequence that could give the Vikings just enough breathing room. We’ll see how New England responds.
Is the momentum swinging? — 10:55 p.m.
What did we say about Alex Kemp and his crew? Some big calls the last few sequences have impacted this one over the last few minutes. Pierre Strong ran into the punter and the Vikings keep their drive alive. That feels like it could be a momentum swing.
Vikings tie it up — 10:41 p.m.
The Vikings got a 36-yard field goal to tie the game with 14:07 left in regulation. It’s 26-26, the fifth tie of the evening. Someone needs to gain the upper hand when it comes to momentum; basically, take a lead and then force a punt. The Patriots just had one of those opportunities slip through their hands.
The Vikings have started to convert their third-down chances, one of the reasons they’ve been able to find success against the New England defense. Minnesota is 7-for-11 on third down so far.
On that last Minnesota drive, we saw the second facemask call of the night on Jonathan Jones, and a bad personal foul call on Myles Bryant. We told you off the top that Alex Kemp’s crew throws (on average) more flags than just about anyone else in the league. While it doesn’t feel like they’ve gone above and beyond tonight, the flags they have thrown have been impactful.
Josh Uche sacks Kirk Cousins — 10:39 p.m.
The Pats defense finally got to Cousins at the start of the fourth quarter.
End of third quarter — 10:36 p.m.
End of the third quarter. Patriots lead, 26-23.
Mac Jones: 20-26, 278 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
DeVante Parker: 4 catches, 4 targets, 80 yards
Nelson Agholor: 5 catches, 5 targets, 64 yards, 1 TD
Rhamondre Stevenson: 6 carries. 33 yards
Harris questionable to return — 10:27 p.m.
That’s four FGs for Folk — 10:22 p.m.
Patriots 26, Vikings 23 | 6:43, third quarter
The drive: 9 plays, 69 yards, 3:58
Hunter Henry had his second touchdown of the night denied on a reversal, which meant the Patriots had to settle for a three-pointer from Nick Folk. It’s 26-23 with 6:43 left in the third quarter. Three thoughts, roughly halfway through the third quarter:
I’d love to get the stopwatch on the snap-to-throw time for Mac Jones tonight and compare it to previous games. A lo goes into it — scheme, opponent, etc. But even on the deep balls, there does seem to be a concerted effort to try and have Mac get the ball out as quickly as possible this evening.
I’ll also say this; DeVante Parker has come to play tonight. Even though he’s banged up with the knee, he’s really made some impressive catches tonight, including the 40-yarder that got the Patriots into the Minnesota red zone. Four catches on four targets for 80 yards.
Is this the first real shootout of the Patriots’ season? I think it might be the closest thing to a shootout since last year’s OT loss to the Cowboys in Foxborough.
Hunter Henry TD overturned — 10:21 p.m.
Hunter Henry scored his second TD of the season earlier in the second half, and almost added a third about midway through the third quarter.
But after a review, the catch was called back. The Patriots settled for another field goal.
Oof: Pats allow Kene Nwangwu to run kickoff back for TD — 10:10 p.m.
Vikings 23, Patriots 23 | 10:41, third quarter
The drive: 0 plays, 0 yards, 33 seconds
A 97-yard kick return for a touchdown by the Vikings’ Kene Nwangwu has knotted this one at 23.
A frustrating sequence to follow up that New England touchdown. It looked like Kyle Dugger might have been held on that return, but there was no call.
Ben Volin reports it’s the first kickoff return TD allowed by the Patriots since the Bills’ CJ Spiller in 2010.
Hunter Henry rumbles in for second TD of season — 10:06 p.m.
Patriots 23, Vikings 16 | 10:54, third quarter
The drive: 8 plays, 75 yards, 4:06
The Patriots take a 23-16 lead on a 37-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Henry. On both occasions to start each half — on their first drive of the game and on their first drive of the second half — the New England offense has looked very impressive.
Quick throws, which have played a part in New England being able to provide some protection for Jones, were the key at the start of that drive. Jones zipped passes to Stevenson, Parker, Agholor, and Meyers to get the Patriots across midfield before the pass to Henry.
It’s Henry’s second TD of the season. His first came in a win over the Browns last month. It’s also just his second touchdown as a Patriot.
We’re back at it for the second half — 9:59 p.m.
The Patriots allowed 231 total yards to the Vikings in the first half — the most they’ve allowed all season.
Can the defense figure out how to stop Justin Jefferson and Co. moving forward? Follow along.
Six thoughts on the first half — 9:50 p.m.
▪ The New England defense doesn’t have the lights-out numbers it did in its last two games against the Colts and Jets, but given all of the options the Minnesota offense has employed, this has — for the most part — been just as good as those two games.
▪ The Patriots have now allowed touchdowns with fewer than two minutes at the end of the first half to Miami, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Chicago, and now, Minnesota. They’re 1-3 in those games before tonight. Those late letdowns have occasionally set the stage for rough second halves. We’ll see if becomes an issue later this evening.
▪ The Patriots had their best first-quarter drive of the season, and one of their best Jones-led drives of the year to open the game. Five plays, 75 yards, and it was capped by a 34-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field to Nelson Agholor. For all the issues they had last week against the Jets, the New England offense really looked smooth to open the game. Especially with a pair of backup offensive linemen in James Ferentz and Yodny Cajuste forced into starting roles.
▪ It wasn’t exclusive, but Jonathan Jones saw an awful lot of Justin Jefferson in the early going. For the Patriots, there was some good and some bad — Jones was flagged for a 15-yard facemask on Jefferson on the Vikings’ first drive, but bounced back with a a sensational pass breakup that he almost turned into a pick-6 on the second drive. Jefferson is going to get his — he’s too good a receiver to be held down for 60 minutes. (His 37-yard catch midway through the second quarter was as good a reception as we’ve seen … at least since he hauled in that miracle a couple of weeks ago against Buffalo.) But Jones has done well against him.
▪ Speaking of Jones, he had a near pick-6 while covering Jefferson early, and got his interception on the next drive when he picked off Cousins and took it all the way back to the Minnesota 17. Great start to the game — and the season — for the veteran, who had a lot on his shoulders this offseason with the departure of J.C. Jackson, and continues to answer the challenge every week.
▪ New England’s coverage teams were dynamite in the first two quarters — Marcus Jones had a terrific open field tackle on the opening kickoff. Last week’s hero added a 46-yard kick return midway through the second quarter. Nick Folk converted his PAT chance as well as field goals from 34, 46, and 22 yards. (Bet he’s happy to be indoors after last week.) Feels like this group has the potential to be difference makers in this one, especially when you have Minnesota’s kicker missing a PAT shortly before the end of the first half.
▪ The Patriots — who won the toss and deferred — will get the ball to start the second half.
At the half: Patriots 16, Vikings 16 — 9:45 p.m.
Two quarters are in the books in Minnesota, and the game is tied at 16.
Mac Jones: 12-15, 148 yards, 1 TD
Rhamondre Stevenson: 3 carries, 21 yards
Nelson Agholor: 3 catches, 3 targets, 52 yards, 1 TD
Kirk Cousins: 17-21, 181 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Dalvin Cook: 12 carries, 29 yards
Justin Jefferson: 6 catches, 7 targets, 94 yards, 1 TD
Patriots settle for yet another field goal as second quarter ends — 9:43 p.m.
Patriots 16, Vikings 16 | :03, second quarter
The drive: 9 plays, 70 yards, 1:27
The Patriots had to settle for a 22-yard Nick Folk field goal — his 100th in a New England uniform — to tie the game at 16 with three seconds in the half.
Other than the fact that they settled for three instead of seven, there were some nice end-of-half moments there for the New England offense. DeVante Parker had a pair of catches — one for 16 and one for 14 yards — to get the Patriots into the Minnesota red zone. Mac took his first sack of the game, but a toss to Agholor got them to the Minnesota five. A shot to the end zone was off the mark, meaning it was time to turn to Folk again.
T.J. Hockenson scores first TD as a Viking — 9:34 p.m.
VIkings 16, Patriots 13 | 1:30, second quarter
The drive: 9 plays, 75 yards, 4:11
Cousins to Hockenson makes it 16-13 with 1:30 left in the half. The extra point was off the mark. In a game that figures to be close, that could be a big moment.
The Patriots have now allowed touchdowns with less than two minutes at the end of the first half to Miami, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Chicago, and Minnesota. They are 1-3 in those games.
It was Hockenson’s first touchdown as a Viking since being dealt from Detroit at the deadline.
The Patriots have no answer for Justin Jefferson — 9:28 p.m.
The Vikings wide receiver has 6 catches for 94 yards and a touchdown, and the first half isn’t even over.
... And another field goal by Nick Folk — 9:20 p.m.
Patriots 13, Vikings 10 | 5:41, second quarter
The drive: 5 plays, 23 yards, 2:48
New England goes up by three on Nick Folk’s second field goal of the game — it’s 13-10 with 5:41 to go in the second quarter.
The drive started with a whopping 46-yard kick return from Marcus Jones. (Jones was one or two players away from breaking that kick return for a touchdown.)
Stevenson stacked up a pair of rugged runs for a combined 14 yards, but was tripped up just shy of a first down at the Minnesota 28. They settled for a Folk field goal.
It’s nice to have the lead on the road against an 8-2 team, but it feels like the Patriots are a few inches away (the early Jonathan Jones near-PBU, not reaching the sticks on that last drive) from really putting an imprint on this game.
Vikings tie it up — 9:13 p.m.
Vikings 10, Patriots 10 | 8:29, second quarter
The drive: 14 plays, 72 yards, 7:59
Good red zone stop there by the New England defense, as the Vikings had to settle for three after a long drive. It’s 10-10 with 8:29 to go in the second quarter.
You always know Justin Jefferson is going to get his, but the Minnesota tight ends (Johnny Mundt and TJ Hockenson, who have combined four catches on four targets for 41 yards in the first quarter-plus) have been a very good complement so far.
Not sure how the rest of the game is going to play out — there are going to be halftime adjustments on both sides — but it feels like if Minnesota thinks Jefferson is being blanketed, Cousins is looking to the tight ends as a reliable option.
Meyers back on the sideline — 9:10 p.m.
End of first quarter: Patriots 10, Vikings 7 — 9:01 p.m.
First quarter done. Patriots up 10-7.
Mac Jones: 5-6, 71 yards, 1 TD
Damien Harris: 3 carries, 14 yards
Nelson Agholor: 2 catches, 2 targets, 39 yards, 1 TD
Folk drills an FG to give Pats the lead — 8:56 p.m.
Patriots 10, Vikings 7 | 1:28, first quarter
The drive: 4 plays, 1 yard, 2:00
The New England offense, which had looked so sharp on the first drive, stalled a bit on that last sequence, picking up just one net yard.
Set up with some great field position after the Jonathan Jones pick, the Patriots had to settle for a 34-yard field goal from Folk. It’s 10-7 with 1:28 to go in the first quarter.
Mac Jones: 5-6, 71 yards, 1 TD
Damien Harris: 3 carries, 14 yards
Nelson Agholor: 2 catches, 2 targets, 39 yards, 1 TD
Jonathan Jones intercepts Kirk Cousins — 8:53 p.m.
Jonathan Jones just about got the pick-6 he missed out on earlier in the first quarter.
Jones picked off Cousins in New England territory and took it all the way back to the Minnesota 17. They have the ball and a chance to take the lead here late in the first quarter.
It is the Patriots’ 18th turnover of the season, and Jones’s third interception of the season.
Meyers questionable to return — 8:49 p.m.
From the Patriots: Receiver Jakobi Meyers is questionable to return with a shoulder injury.
JJ vs. JJ action — 8:44 p.m.
A lot of Jonathan Jones vs. Justin Jefferson early. There’s been some good and bad so far … there was the 15-yard facemask on the first drive, but a sensational pass breakup on that second drive. That came on third down, and forced the punt. It’s tied at seven with 6:44 to go in the first quarter.
Meyers to the locker room — 8:42 p.m.
Nelson Agholor makes 34-yard TD catch as Pats even it up — 8:37 p.m.
Vikings 7, Patriots 7 | 8:21, first quarter
The drive: 5 plays, 75 yards, 2:19
Nothing like starting with a bang.
Mac Jones fumbled the first snap (yikes!), but still found Jakobi Meyers for a 26-yard pickup. (He immediately went to the sideline with what looked like a hand or wrist issue.)
Damien Harris then took it on back-to-back carries for a combined 11 yards. A few plays later, Mac connected deep down the middle to Nelson Agholor for a touchdown, the first of the game for New England. Maybe their quickest and most efficient opening drive of the season — five plays, 75 yards, 2:19. A terrific opening salvo for the New England offense. It’s tied at seven with 8:21 to go in the first quarter.
Watch the TD catch here:
From Ben Volin: Agholor’s 34-yard TD is the second-longest of the season for the Patriots’ offense. Their longest was a 44-yarder by Agholor in Week 2.
Justin Jefferson puts Vikings on the board first — 8:30 p.m.
Vikings 7, Patriots 0 | 10:40, first quarter
The drive: 8 plays, 80 yards, 4:20
The play: Minnesota, which has been so good out of the gate this year (no team has scored more often on their opening drive this season), put together a really impressive opening drive, one that was capped by a six-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Jefferson. It’s 7-0 with 10:40 to go in the first quarter.
Cousins hit Jefferson and Thielen (twice) to get the Vikings into New England territory. (A 15-yard facemask on Jonathan Jones magnified the early issues for New England.)
The biggest plus for New England? Marcus Jones — last week’s hero against the Jets — delivered a hellacious open-field takedown on the opening kick.
And we’re off — 8:20 p.m.
Follow along with us.
Official Price prediction — 8:05 p.m.
I know the stats suggest that this should be a Minnesota win. The Vikings, playing so well until a couple of weeks ago, are at home and they are mostly healthy. But it feels as if — at least for the better part of the last 30 years — the Patriots have always managed to get the better of Minnesota. Going all the way back to that 1994 classic, New England has seemingly always found a way to depants the Vikings.
There are serious issues about the state of the New England offense, and specifically the offensive line. (I have to imagine that Belichick has placed at least one or two calls to Dante Scarnecchia over the last few weeks.) And they cannot turn the ball over. But with defense and special teams, and just enough of a running game, I think we’ll see a repeat of just about every Patriots-Vikings game of the last 20-plus years. As long as they don’t turn the ball over.
In the end, Justin Jefferson gets his, but the New England defense contains the rest of the Minnesota attack, the Patriots get another dose of special teams magic, and they get some quality yardage on the ground from Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris. I’ll say Patriots 21, Vikings 17.
As long as they don’t turn the ball over.
What Bill Belichick said before the game — 7:50 p.m.
A few takeaways from Bill Belichick’s pregame chat with Scott Zolak of 98.5 The Sports Hub:
On beating the Jets:
“It was a hard fought game against the Jets like it always is. It’s always a battle,” he said. “It was a great team win. Great for [the special teams] to step up and be the difference in that game.”
On turnaround, having won five of six:
“Each week has been a little different,” he said. “We’ve had a diffrent formula [in each game]. Hopefully we can find a way to [win] again today.”
On the return of offensive tackle Conor McDermott, who the Patriots signed off the Jets’ practice squad:
“It’s nice to have him back. Nice to work with him. … We’re a little light at tackle here.”
On the Vikings:
“Jefferson and Cook are two of the best players in the league at their positions. … Cousins can really spread the ball around. … [on defense], they’re good on all three levels. They’re a good team. There’s a reason they’re 8-2.
On what he has to be thankful for:
“Everything really. Just the opportunity to have a great family, to be the coach of the New England Patriots, to be in New England, and to have so many great players, coaches, and staff people to work with.”
Kevin O’Connell was drafted by Bill Belichick in 2008. Now he’s facing him as a head coach. — 7:40 p.m.
When he was drafted by the Patriots in 2008, Kevin O’Connell wanted to follow in Tom Brady’s footsteps. Instead, he’s following in Bill Belichick’s.
The first-year head coach of the 8-2 Minnesota Vikings, O’Connell is going to match wits and ways with his old coach Thursday in Minneapolis. Those who have first-hand experience with Belichick’s secret sauce fare better than most. Half the Hoodie battle is walking the fine line between respect and intimidation.
The 37-year-old O’Connell is Belichick Tree adjacent. He observed and absorbed the Belichick Way during his brief time in Foxborough as a backup quarterback, but his NFL coaching apprenticeships came elsewhere. Still, that time in New England left an impression.
A Patriots fan’s rooting guide for NFL Week 12 — 7:25 p.m.
Patriots fans, consider this a clip and save chart for who you should root for when you watch the NFL this weekend.
Ravens (7-3) at Jaguars (3-7): It’s a long shot, but a New England win Thursday and a Jacksonville upset on Sunday would leave the Patriots and Ravens tied at 7-4. (Baltimore would earn the tiebreaker because of head-to-head action.)
Bengals (6-4) at Titans (7-3): Two schools of thought. Are the Patriots (6-4) chasing the Titans? Or more concerned about being caught by the Bengals? I’d suggest New England would benefit more from a Tennessee win, but I can be talked into the alternative.
Texans (1-8-1) at Dolphins (7-3): Everything that stands in the previous game goes for this one. Lovie Smith and Houston could provide a boost for the Patriots if they can find a way to upend Tua and the Dolphins.
Bears (3-8) at Jets (6-4): This one is about separation — if New England wins and Chicago beats New York, the Pats could start to get some distance between themselves and the Jets.
Chargers (5-5) at Cardinals (4-7): Los Angeles has struggled the last few weeks, dropping out of the playoff picture. Another loss could deal an early blow to their postseason chances, and create more possibilities for New England.
Seven numbers to know about tonight — 7:15 p.m.
A few numbers to consider when it comes to tonight’s game:
▪ Tonight starts a stretch of four primetime games for the Patriots. It’ll be the most consecutive primetime contests in franchise history; in 2007, the Patriots had three straight primetime games.
New England will be just the third team since 2000 to play four consecutive primetime games, joining the 2017 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 2016 Dallas Cowboys.
▪ The Patriots have not allowed a touchdown in their last two games. If they do not allow a touchdown this evening against the Vikings, it would mark the first time since 2019 when New England has gone three straight games without yielding a touchdown.
▪ If the Patriots win this evening, it would be Bill Belichick’s first career win at U.S. Bank Stadium. Belichick has won at least one game in 50 different stadiums (including the playoffs), but he has yet to win a game at U.S. Bank Stadium and Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. (Andy Reid is second with wins in 43 different stadiums.)
▪ If Devin McCourty has one interception tonight, he’d move into first place on the list of active players with the most interceptions. He has 33, tied with the Vikings’ Harrison Smith.
▪ With four field goals tonight against Minnesota, Nick Folk would become the fifth kicker in franchise history to connect for 100 field goals.
▪ If he averages 6 yards or more per carry tonight, Rhamondre Stevenson would become the first Patriots’ running back to average 6 or more yards per carry three times in a single season since Dion Lewis did it in 2017. (The franchise record is four games, set by Carl Garrett in 1969.)
▪ If Tyquan Thornton has a rushing touchdown tonight, he will become the first Patriots wide receiver with two rushing touchdowns in the same season and would join Darryl Stingley as the only other Patriots wide receiver with two rushing touchdowns for his Patriots career.
Breaking down the Patriots inactives — 7:05 p.m.
The Patriots have just announced their inactives for tonight.
Center David Andrews (thigh) worked to return after a brutal injury last week against the Jets. He was questionable coming into this weekend, but he’ll be inactive for New England this evening. It’s a big loss. James Ferentz will likely get the start in Andrews’ place.
Tackle Isaiah Wynn (foot) was ruled out going into the weekend, making a dicey situation for New England even more difficult. The Patriots will likely lean on Yodny Cajuste and Trent Brown to fill the tackle roles, but between Wynn and Andrews being out, New England cannot afford an injury along the line tonight.
Bill Murray, who was recently elevated to the 53-man roster, will likely get the bulk of the reps in Andrews’s absence. (You don’t make a personnel move like that unless you plan to use him.)
Healthy scratches include three of the usuals — cornerback Shaun Wade, safety Joshuah Bledsoe, and running back Kevin Harris — as well as defensive tackle Sam Roberts.
Among the notable actives are defensive back/returner Marcus Jones (ankle) and wide receiver DeVante Parker (knee), both of whom were listed as questionable coming into the weekend, but both are suited up and ready to go.
On the other side, the Vikings will be without defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, who was questionable coming into the game with a calf injury. His absence could be a boon for New England’s ground attack.
Patriots and Vikings inactives — 6:59 p.m.
Betting notes — 6:45 p.m.
Most of the betting outlets have the Vikings as a 2.5-point favorite heading into tonight’s action, which isn’t a huge surprise, with a consensus over/under set at 42.5.
A few wagering numbers to consider, from Odds Shark:
- New England is 6-1 against the spread in its last seven games.
- The total has gone under in four of New England’s last six games.
- New England are 5-1 straight up in their last 6 games.
- The total has gone under in 12 of New England’s last 18 games on the road.
- The total has gone over in 12 of Minnesota’s last 18 games.
- Minnesota is 7-1 straight up in its last eight games.
- Minnesota is 5-1 straight up in its last six games at home.
Give us your predictions — 6:35 p.m.
Vote in this Twitter poll ...
Or tell us in the comments.
Weather? Not a problem tonight. — 6:30 p.m.
Weather won’t be an issue this evening, as tonight marks the first dome game of the season for New England, and the first game completely inside (with the roof closed) since Dec. 18, 2021, when the Patriots faced the Colts in Indianapolis.
New England has won three of its last four games inside. The Pats went 3-1 last season with wins over Atlanta, the Los Angeles Chargers, and Houston Texans.
Meet tonight’s referee — 6:25 p.m.
Alex Kemp will serve as the referee for tonight’s game between the Patriots and Vikings.
The son of former NFL official Stan Kemp, Kemp is in his fifth season as an NFL referee. This will mark his first Patriots game of the season, and his first since January when his crew worked a 33-24 Miami win over New England.
According to NFL penalties, on average, Kemp’s crew calls the fourth-most penalties of any group, checking in at an average of 13.11 per game. (By way of comparison, Clete Blakeman’s crew leads the pack at 14.30 per game.)
The numbers also show that Kemp’s crew calls things down the middle; he averages the exact same number of calls per game on the home team as the visitors (6.56 per team).
Pregame reading list — 6:15 p.m.
Best way to get ready for tonight’s game? Your pregame reading list:
Welcome to Thanksgiving football! — 6:00 p.m.
Good evening, and welcome back to football. Hopefully, you’re stuffed from turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, and pumpkin pie, but you’ve left some room for what promises to be a great ballgame between the Patriots and Vikings.
Can New England keep winning with special teams and defense? Can Minnesota bounce back from last Sunday’s ugly loss to Dallas? We’ll find out this evening as the Patriots play their first Thanksgiving game since 2012.
So sit back, relax, put on your stretchy pants and enjoy the game; we’ll have all the pregame news and analysis, in-game updates, and the most important postgame quotes from both teams.
Christopher Price can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at cpriceglobe.