The New England Patriots’ 24-10 win against the Minnesota Vikings featured plenty of big plays on both sides of the football — and for both teams, as the contest was a close one until the home team started to pull away late in the third quarter. But which plays were the biggest from the Patriots’ perspective? Let’s take a look at the changes in win probability to find out (percentages via NumberFire).
5 best Patriots plays
2-3-NE 47 (:01) T.Brady pass short left to J.White to MIN 11 for 42 yards.
Win probability: +12.15%
From a statistical perspective, the Patriots’ biggest play of the day was the team’s quasi-Hail Mary at the end of the first half. Instead of trying a deep shot towards the end zone, Tom Brady threw a short pass to James White. The running back carried the football for 42 yards, showing the limits of statistical calculation: the clock ran out and he was tackled well short of the goal line.
1-10-MIN 24 (:42) T.Brady pass short middle to J.Gordon for 24 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Win probability: +8.81%
After the Vikings tied the game at 10, the Patriots had a big-play drive down the field: the team needed just four plays to cover 75 yards and find the end zone again. The final play of the series was one of the biggest in the game: Tom Brady hit to Josh Gordon on a crossing route near the goal line and the big wide receiver took the football in for six points and a huge momentum shift back to New England.
3-5-MIN 30 (15:00) (Shotgun) K.Cousins sacked at MIN 20 for -10 yards.
Win probability: +6.11%
On the very next series, New England’s defense made its biggest play of the day. Facing a 3rd and 5 on his own 30-yard line, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was taken down by defensive edge Trey Flowers for a loss of 10 yards. Minnesota was forced to punt after just three plays and gave the Patriots tremendous field position — New England turned it into another touchdown to go up 14 points.
4-1-MIN 27 (8:48) T.Brady pass short right to C.Hogan pushed ob at MIN 25 for 2 yards.
Win probability: +5.72%
With the Patriots up 10-7 midway through the third quarter, they decided to go for it on 4th and 1. Tom Brady threw a quick strike to slot receiver Chris Hogan and the veteran was able to convert the attempt. Unfortunately for New England, the play would not lead to any points: the offense stalled a few plays later and then had to watch Stephen Gostkowski miss a 48-yard field goal attempt.
3-5-MIN 22 (12:54) K.Cousins pass incomplete deep middle to A.Thielen.
Win probability: +5.64%
After the Patriots opened the third quarter with a three-and-out, the Vikings were in a position to potential tie the game or take their first lead of the contest. However, their initial series of the second half ended after Kirk Cousins could not connect with wide receiver Adam Thielen on a downfield pass. Thielen had been able to get behind the coverage but the pass was overthrown.
5 worst Patriots plays
1-5-NE 5 (:19) K.Cousins pass short right to A.Thielen for 5 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Win probability: -10.19%
While the Patriots controlled the game for most of the first half, a bad sequence of plays late in the second quarter allowed Minnesota back in it. The biggest of those plays was a 5-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to wide receiver Adam Thielen, who had beaten cornerback Jason McCourty one-on-one in the endzone. The score brought Minnesota within three points heading into the locker rooms.
4-15-MIN 30 (6:26) S.Gostkowski 48 yard field goal is No Good.
Win probability: -9.63%
Following the aforementioned fourth down conversion to Chris Hogan, the Patriots were in prime position to add to their 10-7 lead — even after a holding penalty and two short plays and an incompletion pushed them back. However, Stephen Gostkowski’s 48-yard attempt sailed wide right and allowed Minnesota to start its next drive at its own 38. 12 plays later, the game was tied.
3-5-NE 45 (3:57) K.Cousins pass short right to K.Rudolph pushed ob at NE 40 for 5 yards.
Win probability: +6.58%
The biggest plays of the game-tying drive happened back-to-back. First, the Vikings were able to pick up enough yards for a first down on 3rd and 5: tight end Kyle Rudolph hauled in a catch over safety Obi Melifonwu. The defensive back was able to punch the football loose at the end of the play but a subsequent challenge by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was unsuccessful and the conversion stood.
1-10-NE 40 (3:51) D.Cook right guard ran ob at NE 22 for 18 yards.
Win probability: +5.80%
One play after converting the third down, Minnesota had its biggest run of the day when Delvin Cook cut back for an 18-yard gain. The play set up the Vikings on the edge of the red zone, but the Patriots defense was able to hold and force a field goal. Still, Minnesota was able to come back from 10-0 to tie the game late in the third quarter — the plays by Rudolph and Cook are a big reason why.
3-1-NE 26 (2:14) Direct snap to J.White. J.White right end to NE 26 for no gain.
Win probability: -5.76%
When New England was still up 10-0, the Vikings successfully challenged the spot on a 2nd and 5 play. As a result, the Patriots needed to pick up one yard on the following play — and they failed to do it on a questionable play call: the ball was snapped directly to running back James White who tried to get around the edge to gain enough yardage. However, the play quickly broke down and he was unable to get to the first down marker.