The Bills and Overtime: A Viking Saga


Bills. Vikings. Already being called the greatest game in 2022, even though it took place about halfway through the season. It did have one of the craziest endings in recent memory, but it certainly shouldn’t have. Time and time again, the Bills had opportunities to win, and time and time again, they failed to take advantage of these opportunities. Whether the reason was inexperience, misunderstandings, cracking under pressure, or just plain stupidity, the Bills just couldn’t get it done. But was it really that bad? Were there really that many chances? Or are the Vikings just a better team? Spoiler alert: yes, yes, and no.

First, there was the play that started it all: an 81-yard running touchdown from Dalvin Cook. Two players could’ve prevented this most easily: #47 Christian Benford and #39 Cam Lewis. They each could’ve won their game at 1:43 and 1:40 in the third quarter, respectively. Benford could’ve simply moved to the side and waited for the collision occurring in front of him to finish, then tackled Dalvin Cook. This would’ve taken quick reflexes and even quicker thinking, so it’s understandable that this didn’t happen. On the other hand, Cam Lewis made a mistake that a) shouldn’t have happened, b) wouldn’t happen with a more experienced player, and c) might have cost the Bills the game. If Cam Lewis had done as little as dive forward, he would’ve tackled Dalvin Cook and given the Bills another chance.

Then the Vikings had a genuinely good drive which led to a score. It wasn’t exactly the Bills’ fault, so those six points get a pass. The Vikings could’ve sealed the deal here, but the kicker missed the extra point, which gave Josh Allen and his boys another chance. At first, the Bills seemed to have the upper hand going back down the field, until they entered the red zone. Three stops from the Vikings defense and the Bills are now facing a fourth down. Josh Allen drops back to pass. The Vikings defensive line breaks through the Bills offensive line, forcing Josh Allen out of the pocket. Wanting to avoid a sack, Allen pulls his arm back, follows through . . . and throws an interception. It was a good interception, but it shouldn’t have happened: Josh Allen underestimated his own running speed. If he had taken a large dose of Screwitol™ and tried to at least slide forward, it would’ve probably been enough for a first down. Throw Devin Singletary at the defensive line a few times, and boom. Touchdown. Instead, the Vikings get to drive down the field and turn the game from mildly interesting to The Most Interesting Game So Far.

Then comes the big one. The play people are already calling “Catch of the Year.” You know the one. Justin Jefferson catches the ball on fourth down with one hand, despite heavy coverage. This was possibly the worst mistake the Bills defense made throughout the whole game, mostly because it was so easy to prevent. Cam Lewis just had to swat the ball. It was fourth down, so even if Lewis had caught the interception, it would’ve been a worse outcome than if he had just swatted the ball. This then led to the second-to-last big mistake, which was probably the most avoidable.

From joy to massive disappointment. That’s what Bills fans felt after holding the Vikings back and forcing a turnover on downs. The Bills offense comes on the field . . . and Josh Allen fumbles the snap, leading to a Vikings touchdown. The first problem here was that the Bills thought that it was a good idea to run the ball at THE ONE-YARD LINE. This is just a bad idea in general, because if someone makes a single mistake on the offensive line, the other team gets a safety and then a free possession on top of that. Even ignoring the incredibly questionable decision to run a quarterback sneak at their own one-yard line, the Bills couldn’t even do one of, if not the single, most common and theoretically easiest thing to do in football: the center-to-quarterback exchange. This gave the Vikings the chance to force overtime, which, coupled with the incredibly obvious and predictable interception in OT, gave the Vikings the win.

The Vikings aren’t a very good team at the moment. They had (and still have) an incredibly easy schedule. Directly after beating the Bills, arguably one of the best teams in the Ñational Football League, the Vikings were absolutely wiped out 40-3 by the Cowboys. Their record may be tied for second-best currently, but they certainly aren’t in the top five teams in the league—maybe not even top ten. After the game, the Vikings head coach said that his team was looking for a “signature win.” If their game in Orchard Park had gone normally, they might have gotten what they wanted; instead, somehow, they gained more skeptics after because nobody believed they were legit. Ironically, somehow, the Vikings managed to turn a win into a way to lose credibility.