MINNEAPOLIS - The Vikings had to feel like they let a winnable game slip away Sunday after Harrison Butker’s 44-yard field goal split the uprights as time expired, giving the Kansas City Chiefs a 26-23 win over Minnesota at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Vikings had their four-game win streak snapped, and lost to a back-up quarterback for the second time this season. Matt Moore finished 25-of-35 passing for 275 yards and a touchdown to Tyreek Hill. It was Moore’s first win as a starting quarterback since 2016.
The Vikings lost to the Bears in Week 4 after Mitch Trubisky went out with the shoulder injury in the first quarter. Chase Daniel and a dominant Bears’ defense got them a 16-6 win at Soldier Field.
Butker’s field goal, his fourth of the day, was set up after Britton Colquitt’s shortest punt of the game put the Chiefs at the Minnesota 45-yard line. Moore hit Travis Kelce on a 2nd-and-21 for 17 yards, setting up Moore’s completion to Tyreek Hill that got the Chiefs in field goal range.
Butker made kicks from 44, 24, 45 and 54 yards for the Chiefs.
"It was a game of big plays. They made more of them than we did. I thought we fought like crazy, we just didn’t play well enough to win," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
The bigger concern for the Vikings might be the long-term health of wide receiver Adam Thielen. He exited the game after a drop on the first offensive series, and returned for one more play before telling his teammates on the sideline, "I'm done." He likely re-aggravated a hamstring injury suffered in his only catch of the Vikings' win at Detroit on Oct. 20.
With Thielen out, Stefon Diggs managed just one catch for four yards. Before Sunday's loss, Diggs had three straight games with at least seven catches and 140 yards receiving.
Laquon Treadwell, Dalvin Cook, C.J. Ham, Irv Smith Jr. and Rudolph combined for 16 of Cousins’ 19 completions on the day.
The Vikings can’t say they didn’t have their chance before Butker’s winner. They had the ball twice in the last four minutes, including with the game tied 23-23 with 2:30 left. But both drives stalled due to offensive penalties, and Cousins unable to hit receivers past the line of scrimmage before Colquitt's short punt set up the Chiefs' final scoring drive.
The Vikings took their first lead of the game early in the third quarter after Mercole Hardman fumbled the opening kickoff. Mike Hughes forced the turnover, and Holton Hill, fresh off an eight-game suspension, recovered to give the Vikings the ball in Kansas City territory.
The Vikings turned it into a touchdown as Cousins hit a wide open Ameer Abdullah for a 16-yard touchdown, giving the Vikings a 16-10 lead after Dan Bailey hooked the extra point wide left.
The Chiefs answered later in the third quarter as Damien Williams went 91 yards untouched up the middle for a touchdown, and a 17-16 Kansas City lead. Williams finished the day with 12 carries for 125 yards.
The numbers for Cousins on the day don’t tell the whole story. He finished 19-of-38 for 220 yards and touchdowns to Bisi Johnson, Abdullah and Kyle Rudolph, but missed several throws to open receivers that he normally makes. It was an inconsistent day for Cousins after being named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Month for October earlier this week.
Cousins expressed his own frustrations during the third quarter, being seen on TV yelling, “I’m trying!” coming off the field after a drive stalled.
“Just a hard fought game that we didn’t make enough plays to come out with the win,” Cousins said.
The Chiefs got the win and avoided a four-game home losing streak despite going just 2-of-15 on third down conversions, Patrick Mahomes being sidelined for a second straight game with a dislocated kneecap, allowing Moore to be sacked five times and having the game’s lone turnover. Those Viking sacks came from Harrison Smith, Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter (.5), Jaleel Johnson (.5), Ifeadi Odenigbo and Stephen Weatherly.
Moore’s only touchdown of the game, a 40-yard strike to Tyreek Hill, gave the Chiefs the early 7-0 lead. Cousins and the Vikings answered with a 12-play scoring drive, capped by Cousins hitting Johnson for a 4-yard touchdown, his second of the season.
Despite facing the No. 27-ranked rushing defense in the NFL, the Vikings ran for just 96 yards on 27 carries, averaging 3.6 yards per rush. Dalvin Cook had 21 carries for 71 yards, averaging 3.4 yards per rush. Cook added 45 receiving yards for 116 total yards from scrimmage. It’s the seventh time in nine games this season that Cook has recorded at least 100 total yards.
The Vikings took a 23-20 lead with 10:59 left in regulation after Cousins hit Rudolph for a 4-yard touchdown over the middle. But Butker had the answer for the Chiefs, hitting field goals less than three minutes apart to lift the Chiefs to the win.
The Vikings managed to not lose any additional ground in the NFC North Division. The Packers, Lions and Bears all lost Sunday. Minnesota now heads to Dallas next week for Sunday Night Football against the Cowboys, who will be on a short week after facing the New York Giants on Monday Night Football.