LONDON — A defensive stand by the Vikings that was followed with a 75-yard touchdown drive swayed momentum in Minnesota’s favor on Sunday at Twickenham Stadium.
The Vikings were challenged by the Browns but prevailed in a 33-16 decision in the fourth and final game of the NFL’s 2017 London Series.
Minnesota’s defense faced a goal-to-go situation for Cleveland from the 6 but didn’t allow the Browns inside the 5-yard line. The Browns (0-8) settled for a 23-yard field goal by Zane Gonzalez that gave Cleveland a one-point lead.
The Vikings (6-2) answered with a 1-yard touchdown run by
Minnesota’s defense forced a quick three-and-out, and the offense followed with a nine-play, 84-yard drive that ended with an impressive vertical jump and toe tap in bounds by
Cleveland led 13-12 at the opening of the second half, but
Minnesota took over at the Cleveland 30-yard line, but the Vikings only gained 5 yards and settled for a 43-yard field goal by Forbath for a 15-13 lead with 13:32 left in the third quarter.
Cleveland reclaimed the lead, going up 16-15 with a 23-yard field goal by Gonzalez, with 5:34 left in the third quarter after driving 55 yards on 12 plays.
McKinnon added 72 receiving yards on six catches and rushed 14 times for 50 yards.
The Vikings controlled the clock and flow of the game for much of the second half after a rocky start.
Minnesota’s first possession of the game ended with an interception for the second straight week.
Browns linebacker Joe Schobert corralled a
Cleveland struck quickly with an 11-yard gain on a tight end screen to rookie David Njoku and a 26-yard touchdown by running back Crowell with 11:20 left in the first quarter.
The extra point attempt by Gonzalez was off the mark and hit the right upright.
The Vikings turned a turnover by the Browns into three points in the first quarter.
Keenum converted a third-and-15 with a 17-yard pass to Thielen after a pair of negative plays, but the drive stalled when former Minnesota Golden Gopher Briean Boddy-Calhoun broke up a pass intended for Thielen.
Kai Forbath made a 35-yard field goal, and the Vikings trailed 6-3 with 5:27 remaining in the first quarter.
Neither team scored again until 2:48 remained in the second quarter. Thielen snuck behind Cleveland’s defense in the end zone, and Keenum found him for an 18-yard touchdown. The extra point by Forbath, however, was blocked by Emmanuel Ogbah and fell short.
Cleveland answered by driving 82 yards on eight plays. The Browns converted a third-and-12 with a 38-yard pass from DeShone Kizer to Ricardo Lewis and then improvised on second-and-7 with a scrambling shovel pass to Crowell that gained 38. Kizer finished the drive with a 1-yard dive on a quarterback sneak for a 13-9 lead with 40 seconds remaining before halftime.
Minnesota capitalized on the extra possession with a six-play drive that covered 62 yards and ended with a 34-yard field goal by Forbath.
McKinnon had gains of 20 yards (on a pass floated by Keenum) and 16 yards, and
Up next: Minnesota will have its bye week before traveling to Washington for a Nov. 12 contest.
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