Justin Jefferson makes 2 unbelievable catches in final minutes (0:38)

Jefferson made two amazing catches in the last minutes. 0:39

4:45 PM AST

I was supposed to write about the Saints-Steelers game on Monday. It was impossible to talk about anything else after the Vikings won in Buffalo.

With close competition from the first Falcons-Panthers game in late October, the Vikings-Bills game has to be considered the best game of the year. It could turn out to be a big game in the playoffs.

I was left with a lot of questions and answers from the final 20 minutes of football. Only five teams have more than six wins through the first 10 weeks of the season and the Bills and Vikings are in that group.

Jump to a question:

Did Jefferson make the best catch ever?

Who won the Jefferson-Diggs trade?

Is Cousins playing any differently?

Are the Vikings great or just lucky?

What's wrong with the Bills?

What else should I know about this game?

The ending to that fourth quarter was unbelievable, right?

Yes, it was! According to the win expectancy model, the last minute was particularly unlikely and spectacular. When the Vikings failed on their fourth-and- goal sneak from the 1-yard line with 50 seconds left in the game, the Bills were almost certain to win. Josh Allen and the rest of the team had just a 5% chance of winning after they fumbled the ball away on a failed handoff.

The win expectancy data has been on the air for a number of years. The worst offensive play any team has run in the last 15 years was the fumbled exchange between Allen andMitch. In terms of winning a single game, the interception at the goal line in Super Bowl XLIX wasn't as dramatic as it would have been if Seattle had gotten another yard and stopped the Pats. It's much more difficult to snap the ball and fall down.

This was the seventh most damaging play any team has had to contend with. There are a number of defensive disasters on the list.

  • The Dolphins scored a "pitchy pitchy woo woo" touchdown with seven seconds to go in the game, with Rob Gronkowski running in the open field for the win.

  • The Broncos were stuck on their own 13 yard line with 28 seconds left in the game after trailing by six. After struggling to score all game, they found a solution: a Kyle Orton pass bounced off Leon Hall's hands and into the arms of Brandon Stokley.

  • The Packers defeated the Lions 27-23 with no time left in the game.

  • The Raiders-Jets game will be played in Week 13 of 2020. The game was decided by Carr's 48 yard touchdown. Williams was fired by the Jets after they lost a game.

  • The Vikings defeated the Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs. Vikings fans are likely to remember this.

  • Bills fans might remember this one for less than they think, as Kyler Murray hit DeANDRE HOPKINS with 11 seconds left in the game, giving the Cards a 32-30 victory.

No one came back from any of those plays. At the end of the fourth quarter in this game, the Bills just returned to the field and scored a tying field goal. This is the first time since 2012 that two teams each had a win expectancy of 5% or less in the final minute of a game and sent it to overtime.

I've never seen a better regular-season game. There were four lead changes in the fourth quarter and a combined 105 points from two devastating offenses in the Chiefs-Rams game. I don't want to hurt the feelings of grieving Bills fans, but the end of this game was very entertaining for neutral observers.

OK, but wasn't that the greatest catch you've ever seen?

I believe so. If there is a better catch than the one Jefferson made, I want to see it. The combination of Jefferson's one-handed grab and Beckham Jr.'s helmet catch in 2008 was reminiscent of two of the greatest catches in football history.

what in the world. @JJettas2

— NFL (@NFL) November 13, 2022

The catch is not the same as the one in the movie. The Jefferson grab is more impressive than the Beckham catch. The then-Giants star had to make that reception at an impossible angle, but he was being interfered with during the play, and he had a clear path to the catch. Jefferson had to turn his body in the other direction while the ball was in the air to grab it from Lewis, who was closing on the pass with both hands. Bills fans cheered for the first couple of seconds after the play because they thought it was an error by Jefferson.

This one was more important than the Beckham catch. The Giants scored seven points in the second quarter of their game against the Cowboys. The Vikings would have handed the ball back to the Bills if Jefferson's catch hadn't come on fourth-and-18. The Bills lost the ball in the middle of the field, but I don't think that's a big deal. The Vikings would have needed a touchdown to get the ball back if Jefferson hadn't come through.

The other ridiculous catches on Sunday overshadowed this one. The catch was made on third- and-15. In Los Angeles, Rondale Moore made what would be the catch of the week on most Sundays, when he brought in a fourth-and- 3 pass from Colt McCoy with one hand for a 26 yard reception. It's possible that it never happened. It's not a good idea to coincide the greatest catch of your life with Jefferson's.

Jefferson delivered more than one amazing catch. The third-year star had 10 catches on 16 targets and a touchdown. Nine of the catches appeared to be a winning score before being overturned on review. The catches came with a high degree of difficulty.

Justin Jefferson was responsible for nine receptions with a sub-50% completion probability, the most in a game by any receiver in the NGS era. No other player has had more than six.

💡 Jefferson (Today): 9 of 10 receptions sub-50%@JJettas2 | Powered by @awscloud

— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 13, 2022

Does this mean the Vikings won the Jefferson-for-Diggs trade?

Let's ignore the cop-out answer of "they both won" and pick a winner. In March 2020, the Bills sent their first-round pick in the 2020 draft and three other picks to the Vikings in exchange for Diggs and a seventh-round pick. The other selections didn't add much to the draft. Jackson was drafted by the Bills with the seventh-round pick.

Jefferson and Diggs are the top two in receiving yards. The number of routes they run is the same. Who has been better depends on what you want in a top receiver.


Jefferson has generated more yards on less targets. More first downs and touchdown have been produced by Diggs. If you wanted a first down or an exciting play, you'd prefer Diggs. The gap doesn't really matter.

It looks like the Vikings got the better end of the deal. Two years have passed with Allen as his quarterback. Allen has flourished and undoubtedly improved in part because he is in the lineup, but Jefferson has made KirkCousins better as well. It's not hard to argue that Allen is a better quarterback than the other guy. Jefferson is a better asset for his franchise due to his younger age.

Jefferson's contract has been a lot less expensive. Between 2020 and 2022, Jefferson has cost the Vikings less than $10 million with his first three years in the league. After signing an extension with the Bills in the off-season, he added $24.6 million to his total earnings. The Bills have paid more for a player than the Vikings have for Jefferson, but he will make up for it when he signs a huge extension after the season.

The Vikings have applied money from the other side of the equation. They might not have always spent that money wisely, but the comparison is still there. Whatever else the team can get with those cost savings, it's between the two of them.

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If it's Diggs versus Jefferson, then he can't make up the difference, as Jefferson and Za'Darius Smith make just under $11 million in the same year. If the Bills had drafted Jefferson, they would have been able to use those savings over the past three years to add more pieces in the secondary, keep more of their offensive line depth, or sign a more imposing wide receiver. They might have been able to trade for Christian McCaffrey at the deadline.

I'm not interested in fighting here. Both the Bills and the Vikings would make this deal again. Both teams did a good job. Jefferson has been the better value in a match up with another star wide receiver.

Is Kirk Cousins playing at a new level?

I don't believe that. In the fourth quarter and overtime, he made a number of big-time throws, most notably on a corner route to Jefferson to set up the first goal in the extra period. He ran for 15 yards to set up C.J. Ham's fourth-quarter touchdown.

Neither pick was pretty. The snow was still on the ground in the first quarter when Christian Benford made the pick. The Vikings were in Buffalo territory when he threw the ball to Jackson, who returned it for a touchdown. It would be hard to find Minnesota fans who saw that pick up in the third quarter and still thought their team was going to win the game.

This isn't an above average season by most measures. He used to be one of the league's most devastating play-action passers, but the Vikings haven't had that much success with fakes in the foreseeable future.

Matthew Stafford is just ahead of Cousins in the league in QBR. It would be his worst full-season mark in Minnesota. Over the course of four seasons in Minneapolis, he has posted figures between 58.7 and 61.7. The drop in his play-action success has led to a career-low 6.6 yards per attempt mark across all pass attempts.


The Vikings defeated the Bills in overtime.

The Vikings have had stretches of greatness, but they haven't been great on offense. They rank 18th in expected points added per play during the first three quarters of the game, but when the game is on the line, they rank fifth in EPA per play. From 23rd to 13th in QBR, he improved.

Is that sustainable over time? Over the course of the remainder of the season, there's a good chance that Cousins' level of play will improve.

Are you talking about the team itself? Well, that's right.

Are the Vikings good?

The win gave both sides something to argue about. The Vikings fought back from a 17 point deficit in the second half to win. The Vikings overcame adversity, picked up big plays when they needed, forced two critical Allen turnovers, and pulled out a game in which they were seen as outsiders against Case Keenum.

You can tell yourself a different story if you're more of a believer. The Vikings needed a long touchdown run by Dalvin Cook to get back in the game, but it was Jefferson who made the biggest play of the game. The Bills scored a touchdown after a bungled snap. Ed Donatell's defense failed to stop the Bills from scoring. While the Vikings took the lead in overtime, the Bills were driving to win before a mental mistake by Allen gave Minnesota the victory.

I'm in the middle on this. Even though they won in Buffalo, it's still impressive. The Bills have been 19-4 at home and 20-3 when scoring 30 points. When both were true, they had been 15-0. This is the kind of win that the Vikings can point to as their first line on their 2022, even if it was a well-executed fumbled ball.

It's not the hallmark of great teams that this formula has worked for Minnesota. The teams that end up having success in the playoffs usually don't play their regular-season opponents too hard. Teams are blown out by them. The Vikings have won their last seven games by eight points or less. The Vikings have needed late scores to beat the Bills, Commanders, Lions and Saints in close games.

There are a lot of teams that have won games this way and made it to the playoffs. The only other team to win seven games in a row by eight points or less was the 2020 Chiefs, who rode their luck all the way to the Super Bowl before being torn apart by the pass rush. We didn't have the same discussions about the abilities of the Chiefs because they already proved that they could dominate teams.

Minnesota has seven victories by eight points or fewer so far this season. The two other teams with seven victories represent two dramatic swings. The 1987 Chargers went 1-8 to start the season, but they still won one game by more than six points. The team failed to make the playoffs after losing its last six games.

The 2006 Colts did the same thing, and they got hot on defense and won the Super Bowl. The Raiders won six of their first nine games by eight points or less and went on to win the title. They made it to the Super Bowl. Being a team that wins by a lot each week doesn't preclude a team from making a deep playoff run.

Having victories in your back pocket can help overcome the weaknesses on the roster. Did you remember last year? When the Eagles started 11-2, they were not this type of team. He was benched in Week 17 after a poor performance in a win over the Giants.

It wouldn't have seemed like a favorite to win a Super Bowl with an Eagles team with Nick Foles at the helm. They were the top seed in the playoffs and got a first-round bye. In the playoffs, he got hot after a narrow win over the Falcons, but he struggled in a loss to the Falcons. What happened in Super Bowl LII?

The Vikings and Bills combined for 967 yards of total offense, with Minnesota prevailing in overtime. Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images

The Vikings aren't as strong of a team as the Eagles were, but if they slip up, they're in a good spot. If they have to win two games at home, they will have a better chance of making the playoffs.

The Vikings think they belong in the top teams in the league. If they lose to the Cowboys and the Pats over the next two weeks, they will lose their self-belief. After years of frustrating moments, missed kicks and a coaching staff that seemed frustrated with the roster, everyone is on the same page. It looks like it is more enjoyable to be a Vikings player this year than it was last year.

What's wrong with the Bills?

The Bills dislike the Vikings. Buffalo seems to be struggling when it needs a key play. It will take some work to fix the issues with this team.

Allen's tendency for turning the ball over is one of the bigger issues. I mentioned in last week's awards column that Allen had gotten away with two turnovers in the win over the Packers, but his two turnovers against the Jets swung the game in the Jets' favor. Through the first half of the season, Allen already had eight turnovers, which is more than any other top passer.

He told you that Allen cost the Bills the game with turnovers. Maybe you don't blame him for the fumbled exchange that gave the Vikings the lead. He probably wouldn't have made the forced throw on fourth-and-goal if his team had been able to back up the Vikings inside their own territory.

Allen's last pass of the game is irrefutable. His throw was nowhere near where it needed to be, even though he liked the idea of a double post against quarters. In a situation in which a field goal ties the game and the Bills still have another down to work with, he underthrew his pass and gave the ball back to the other team. Allen put a ball in a place where only the defensive back could make a play, but he deserved credit for cutting the pass.


Josh Allen was picked off in the end zone by PatrickPeterson in overtime to give the Vikings a 33-30 win over the Bills.

Allen was the league's best quarterback inside the red zone until recently. He did a great job of protecting the ball. He had thrown over 80 touchdown passes against just two picks in the red zone through the first seven weeks of the season. There was no active quarterback who had a better touchdown to intercept ratio.

In his past three games, Allen has thrown two picks inside the red zone, giving him more picks than he had in his entire career. If the pick came from 1 yard closer, it would be a fourth. It's reasonable to think that the Bills could be 7-1 with better decision-making from their quarterback.

The red zone isn't the only one. In the year of 2022, Allen has more intercepts than he did in the year of 2019. In the first half, he was fortunate to get away with a pair of tipped passes, one of which was picked off by a Vikings defender. The Bills had a chance to take the lead in the third quarter, but Singletary fumbled a ball on the Minnesota 27 yard line.

The secondary isn't as reliable as it used to be, so the margin for error isn't as high for the Bills. The Bills felt the effects of injuries to the defense on Sunday.

In a perfect world, the Bills would start White and Elam on the outside and Johnson on the inside. The Bills have had the best safety duo in the league for years in the duo of Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. Hyde and Poyer had been injury free for the majority of their time together in Buffalo.

There was only one player from that five-man group on Sunday. White and Elam are both still recovering from injuries suffered last year. Hyde and Poyer both missed the game with injuries.

The Bills were stuck with players who were supposed to be inactive or practice-squad players. Jackson had been playing about nine defensive snaps per game before White went down and Benford was a sixth-round pick. They lined up Hamlin across from Lewis. The two safeties played more snaps on Sunday than they did over the course of the season.

The defense of the Bills is well coached and their players are usually in the right place. They can't line up guys from the bottom of their roster against superstars if they get torched. On that fourth-and-18 play, Jefferson outjumped Lewis. He broke a Benford tackle for a 46-yard gain after beating Jackson on a third-and-3 fade. Cook ran 81 yards for a touchdown after breaking a tackle on the edge by Benford and then running past a poor angle from Lewis. The play is most likely a 10-yard gain with a healthy Buffalo secondary. It was a home call.

sloppy mistakes by the secondary Benford was called for a defensive pass interference in the fourth quarter. The Bills lost 15 yards on the most important drive of the game after he called a personal foul on the play after Jefferson's catch.

Poyer should return soon. White's status isn't clear. The star corner hasn't been on the field for two weeks. He wasn't listed on the injury report for Sunday's game, but it seems like he's still healing from the injury he suffered last Thanksgiving. He won't be back to his Pro Bowl form until late in the season.

Is it time to be concerned about Buffalo?

There are reasons to be positive about the future. Buffalo's two-game losing streak has put it in a much more difficult position, since it was the consensus top team in the conference through most of the first two months of the season. The loss on Sunday knocked the Bills out of first place in the division and left them in last place.

The Bills are only half a game out of first place in the East, but they are vulnerable. They have lost to the Dolphins and Jets in their division. The Dolphins and Jets are both in the win column. After head-to-head play within the East, the Bills can't afford many more slip-ups. If the Bills lose to the Dolphins or Jets, their odds of winning the division will go from 45% to 22%.

The good news for Buffalo is that it has a chance to win at least one of the three tiebreakers if it can get back to the top of the division. Getting the top seed in the conference is a big advantage in the playoffs. The Bills would have a week off and be able to play at home in the playoffs.

The schedule is going to get easier after facing the Packers, Jets, and Vikings. Over the next two weeks, the team gets a pair of 3-6 opponents in the Cleveland and Detroit. The Bills will have a mini-bye after theThanksgiving game. The Dolphins and Jets are the next two teams that the Pats will face at home.

The Bills are a very good team. Three of their losses have been close. They've lost three of five close games this season after going 0-5 in those games a year ago, but this same core was 6-1 in games decided by seven points or less the previous season, so I don't think it learned how to win these close ones in 2020.

Is Allen's elbow OK?

At one point, Allen looked like the same old Allen, even though he wasn't ready to start the game. He didn't seem to show a lot of pain or play differently than he would in a typical week, even though there was a touch of zip missing on a throw here or there. He ran six times for 84 yards.

Two exceptions were present. One of them stayed down in pain after tackling the other during the overtime period. He threw a pick to end the game when he didn't get as much as he wanted on the ball.

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I'm not a doctor, so I won't speculate as to the chances of Allen sustaining another injury. The Bills just blew a 17-point second-half lead, so the idea I'm about to bring up might seem foolish, but with these upcoming games against overmatched competition, the Bills would be wise to sit Allen in moments when they can. It would be a good idea to rest him for the second half or the fourth quarter if they get a big win. It's clear they can't expect him to change his physical style of play, so getting him off the field is the only way to make sure he doesn't get hit.

What about all the other stuff you didn't mention?

There are a lot of moments I haven't talked about. I will finish with a few of them.

This was so close to disaster. We're talking about something similar to the Vikings if the Bills successfully completed that handoff. After that Jefferson catch, they didn't score on a first-and-goal sequence from the 3-yard line because the right guard stepped on the foot of the quarterback twice.

Jefferson tried to score but was stopped short. Cook was nearly the goat for dropping a walk-in touchdown, but after a Bills offside penalty, he was at fault for missing a quarterback sneak. Greg Joseph's missed extra point meant that the Vikings had to go for a touchdown on the final drive instead of falling back on a field goal.

The contest could have been iced by Buffalo. The Bills left points and opportunities on the table and we don't know how the final drives would have turned out. Allen's red zone intercept came on fourth-and- goal. They lost points when Singletary fumbled.

With the Bills facing a second-and-2 from the Vikings' 22-yard line, a touchdown would have gotten Allen out of the game. He had a pass tipped at the line and Duke Johnson was stuffed. Buffalo had a chance to go for it on fourth-and-2 but chose not to. On the next play, Cook scored an 81-yard touchdown.

There were three fourth-down conversions by the Vikings. The Vikings' success on fourth down helped push the game their way after the Bills failed on fourth-and-goal. K.J. Osborn converted a fourth-and-1 jet sweep on the previous drive. The Vikings converted a fourth-and-six on a throw to T.J. C.J. Ham scored a touchdown on that drive.

The 20-yard catch by Gabe Davis was not a legitimate one. Vikings fans would have a right to be upset about what happened on the last drive. With the Bills checking the ball down, Allen got bored and threw a 20-yard completion to Davis. The play was ruled a completion after Davis made a diving catch.

The Bills ran a play after getting up to the line. The play should have been stopped by the replay official because the call was incorrect. The Bills got into field goal range on the next snap. The sequence caused the game to go to overtime.

There was a lot to like about the game. Football is supposed to be fun, and this was wildly entertaining, even if defensive purists didn't like it. With the game on the line, getting to see Jefferson and Diggs trade big catches was enjoyable. It could be even more entertaining to see a sequel in February.