The Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North title and the accompanying home playoff game by staging the greatest comeback in NFL history on Saturday.
Trailing the Indianapolis Colts 33-0 at halftime, the Vikings rallied for a 39-36 overtime victory.
The Colts-Vikings game was one of three contests on Saturday in Week 15 of the NFL season.
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The Buffalo Bills kicked a field goal on the final snap to defeat the Miami Dolphins 32-29, and the Cleveland Browns upended the Baltimore Ravens 13-3 in an AFC North rivalry game.
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Minnesota Vikings 39, Indianapolis Colts 36 (OT)
The Vikings’ victory replaced the Buffalo Bills’ 41-38 victory over the Houston Oilers in an AFC playoff game on Jan. 3, 1993, as the biggest comeback in NFL history. The Bills trailed by 32 points in the third quarter.
Indianapolis built its 33-point lead even though its offense scored one touchdown. But the Colts returned an interception and a blocked punt for touchdowns and Chase McLaughlin kicked four field goals before Minnesota scored its first points with 8:22 left in the third quarter.
After completing 6-of-12 passes for 43 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in the first half, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 28-of-42 passes for 417 yards with four touchdowns and one interception after halftime.
Six players from Alabama high schools and colleges got on the field during the Indianapolis-Minnesota game:
· Colts cornerback Tony Brown (Alabama) played but did not record any stats.
· Colts defensive tackle Byron Cowart (Auburn) made one tackle.
· Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (Spain Park) dressed for the game but did not play.
· Ryan Kelly (Alabama) started at center for the Colts.
· Braden Smith (Auburn) started at right offensive tackle for the Colts.
· Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Za’Darius Smith (Greenville) started at outside linebacker for the Vikings. Smith made five tackles, shared a sack and forced two fumbles. Minnesota recovered one of the fumbles at its 46-yard line in the fourth quarter. Smith has 10 sacks this season.
· Dalvin Tomlinson (Alabama) started at defensive tackle for the Vikings. Tomlinson made four tackles and registered a quarterback hit.
Minnesota improved to 11-3 with its 10th one-score victory of 2022, tying for the most in one season in NFL history. With its fourth straight loss, Indianapolis dropped to 4-9-1.
The Vikings host the New York Giants on Christmas Eve in their next game. The Colts have the Monday night game for Week 16, hosting the Los Angeles Chargers on Dec. 26.
Cleveland Browns 13, Baltimore Ravens 3
With Lamar Jackson out, backup quarterback Tyler Huntley ran Baltimore’s offense, which ended a streak of 73 regular-season games scoring in double figures. The Ravens outgained the Browns 324-283 in yardage, but Baltimore lost a fumble and an interception while Cleveland played in the snow without a turnover. And while the Browns were 2-for-2 on fourth down, the Ravens went 0-for-3, including getting stopped at the Browns 7-yard line on their opening possession.
Eight players from Alabama high schools and colleges got on the field during the Baltimore-Cleveland game:
· Ravens cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis (St. Paul’s) Episcopal, Alabama) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Ravens linebacker Josh Bynes (Auburn) was designated as a game-day inactive.
· Amari Cooper (Alabama) started at wide receiver for the Browns. Cooper caught four passes for 58 yards. He had consecutive catches good for 44 yards on Cleveland’s 91-yard drive for the game’s only touchdown.
· Browns linebacker Tae Davis (Oxford) made three tackles on special teams. Cleveland elevated Davis from its practice squad to make him eligible to play.
· Ravens running back Kenyan Drake (Alabama) was designated as a game-day inactive.
· Browns running back Jerome Ford (Alabama) returned a kickoff 21 yards.
· Browns tight end Miller Forristall (Alabama) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Browns safety Ronnie Harrison (Alabama) made five tackles and broke up a pass.
· Browns offensive tackle Chris Hubbard (UAB) was designated as a game-day inactive.
· Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Alabama) started at quarterback for the Ravens. Humphrey made six tackles and broke up a pass.
· Ravens linebacker Jeremiah Moon (Hoover) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce (Daphne, Samford) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Browns linebacker Reggie Ragland (Bob Jones, Alabama) played but did not record any stats. Ragland made his debut in his sixth NFL season on Sunday. Cleveland signed the linebacker off the Las Vegas Raiders’ practice squad on Dec. 7.
· Browns wide receiver Anthony Schwartz (Auburn) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Jedrick Wills Jr. (Alabama) started at left offensive tackle for the Browns.
· Browns defensive end Alex Wright (Elba, UAB) made a tackle for loss.
Cleveland improved to 6-8 while Baltimore dropped one-half game behind the Cincinnati Bengals at the top of the AFC North standings at 9-5.
The Browns and Ravens will be at home against NFC South opponents on Christmas Eve for their next games. Cleveland plays the New Orleans Saints, and Baltimore plays the Atlanta Falcons.
Buffalo Bills 32, Miami Dolphins 29
Buffalo scored the final 11 points of the game to clinch a spot in the AFC playoffs. The Bills kept possession for the final 5:56, moving from their 7-yard line to the Miami 7 – aided by a 21-yard defensive pass interference penalty on a third-down incompletion — for Tyler Bass’ 25-yard field goal on the game’s final play. Buffalo also scored on the final play of the first half with Josh Allen throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass to running back James Cook as the Bills took a 21-13 halftime lead.
Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen completed 25-of-40 passes for 304 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions and ran for 77 yards on 10 carries.
Miami running back Raheem Mostert gained 136 yards on 17 rushing attempts and caught a 20-yard pass.
Six players from Alabama high schools and colleges got on the field during the Miami-Buffalo game:
· Dolphins defensive tackle Raekwon Davis (Alabama) made two tackles.
· Dolphins outside linebacker Trey Flowers (Columbia) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Tyreek Hill (West Alabama) started at wide receiver for Dolphins. Hill had nine receptions for 69 yards and one touchdown. Hill caught a 20-yard touchdown pass with 2:30 left in the third quarter as Miami took a 26-21 lead.
· Noah Igbinoghene (Hewitt-Trussville, Auburn) started at cornerback for the Dolphins. Igbinoghene made two tackles in his second start of the season. Igbinoghene hadn’t played in Miami’s previous four games, but injuries in the Dolphins’ secondary pressed him back into service.
· Bills cornerback Siran Neal (Eufaula, Jacksonville State) played but did not record any stats.
· Dolphins running back La’Mical Perine (Theodore) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) started at quarterback for the Dolphins. Tagovailoa completed 17-of-30 passes for 234 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Tagovailoa threw touchdown passes of 67 yards to wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and 20 yards to wide receiver Tyreek Hill in the third quarter as Miami turned an eight-point halftime deficit into a five-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
· Jaylen Waddle (Alabama) started at wide receiver for the Dolphins. Waddle had three receptions for 114 yards and one touchdown even though he missed a portion of the second half with a forearm injury. Waddle caught a 67-yard touchdown pass with 12:48 left in the third quarter as Miami reduced Buffalo’s lead to 21-19. The sixth 100-yard receiving game of Waddle’s career was his fifth of the 2022 season.
Buffalo improved to 11-3 with its fifth consecutive victory. Miami dropped to 8-6 with its third straight loss.
The Bills visit the Chicago Bears on Christmas Eve for their next game. The Dolphins host the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Day.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.
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