Mike Zimmer after Vikings' 12th one-score game: 'Another fun night'

A laugher turned into a nail-biter Thursday night in Minnesota as the Vikings staved off an epic collapse to hang on for a 36-28 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Vikes jumped out to a 29-0 lead late in the third quarter, and it felt like the NFL should have instituted a running clock on the rout. But Minnesota miscues opened the door for the Steelers to come roaring back to make it a game late in the fourth quarter.

“Another fun night,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer quipped, via the team’s official website.

The victory was the 6-7 Vikings’ 12th one-score game of the season. Whether it’s holding on to beat the division-leading Packers or collapsing against the lowly Lions, Minnesota has experienced a wide array of blood-pumping games in 2021.

The cardiac stress on fans can’t be healthy.

“We can’t make it easy for whatever reason,” linebacker Anthony Barr said. “It should probably never have gotten to that point, but it does feel good to kind of redeem ourselves after last week.

“The first half is something to build on. The second half, we kind want to disregard that and correct the mistakes and get ready for Monday.”

The Vikings built a 23-0 halftime lead while piling up 300 yards and holding the Steelers to 66 total yards.

But settling for field goals, going 5-of-14 on third downs and Kirk Cousins throwing two interceptions allowed the Steelers to hang around and provided Pittsburgh a chance to force overtime late.

The Vikings’ offense didn’t do much outside of one big K.J. Osborn 62-yard TD in the second half. Cousins completed just four passes in the half for 92 total yards (3 for 30 outside of the TD) and the defense gave up 306 yards and 28 points.

In the end, a magnificent play by Harrison Smith to poke away the potential game-tying TD saved the Vikings from the largest collapse in regular-season history.

Zimmer summed up the night perfectly for his team.

“You know, that team that played in the first half for us was pretty darn good, and I think could probably beat anybody,” Zimmer said. “That team that played in the second half, um, probably could get beat by anybody.”

The 2021 Minnesota Vikings are a Bert Bell fever dream of parity. They could win the Super Bowl or get beat in the last second every week. And unless you are a Vikes fan with a heart issue, it is thrilling to watch unfold and makes for dramatic television. Deep in the bowels of 345 Park Ave., the NFL surely wishes every team were more like the Vikings.

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