LONDON — Justin Jefferson rebounded from two quiet games and Greg Joseph made up for a missed extra point.
The Vikings’ star receiver scored a touchdown and defeated Marshon Lattimore on a 39-yard reception to set up Joseph’s 47-yard field goal with 24 seconds left, and Minnesota held on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on a 28: 25 win over New Orleans stuck.
However, many of the Vikings (3-1) thought they were going into overtime when Saints kicker Wil Lutz came on for his 61-yard attempt to bind. And why not? Lutz hit a 60-yarder on her previous possession.
This one had the distance but hit the left post and then the crossbar before rebounding on time’s up.
“When it left its foot I thought it was going in,” said Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell. “It felt like this thing had a really good chance of going through and obviously a few jumps later we can walk away as the winning team.”
Joseph’s go-ahead kick came after missing an extra point earlier in the quarter after Jefferson pocketed it from 3 yards at 4:15 in the fourth quarter.
The missed kick gave the Vikings a 25:22 lead.
The Saints then had an eight-play drive and Lutz hit a 60-yard field goal with 1:51 left to tie the game for the Saints (1-3), who have lost three games in a row.
“I thought they were both in,” Lutz said. “I hit them both on the screws. The second is just a little further to the left. So shocked it didn’t jump in.”
Jefferson had 10 receptions for 147 yards after being limited to nine total receptions and 62 yards in the last two games. He was pleased to finally see single coverage.
“Lattimore followed me pretty much the whole game, it was pretty much a one-on-one fight most of the game,” Jefferson said. “I’ve been telling (O’Connell) the whole game we should give it up, give me a chance to go upstairs and make a big game.”
Joseph was 5-5 on field goals as the Vikings squandered several scoring chances but still held off a New Orleans team that was playing without key starters, including quarterback Jameis Winston and running back Alvin Kamara.
Kirk Cousins completed 25 of 38 passes for 273 yards with one touchdown and one interception. O’Connell’s Vikings are off to their best start since 2016, going 4-0.
The Saints arrived earlier in the week to adjust to the time difference, but their losing streak now lasts three games under coach Dennis Allen.
“We still have to find a way not to hurt ourselves with penalties and losing possession and that has to change,” Allen said.
Saints backup quarterback Andy Dalton was 16-7 behind and led two scoring drives to help New Orleans take a 22-19 lead. Saints tight end/quarterback Taysom Hill took a direct snap and ran it in from 2 yards for the fourth quarter go-ahead, and Dalton found a wide-open Jarvis Landry for the 2-point conversion.
Dalton completed 20 of 28 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown.
After the Saints cut Minnesota’s lead to 16-14 on Latavius Murray’s 1-yard run late in the third quarter, the Vikings drove again and Joseph made it 19-14 with a 46-yard field goal early in the period fourth quarter.
The Vikings led 13-7 and had first-and-goal on the 3 after Jefferson’s 41-yard reception in the third quarter, but were pushed back by a game penalty delay. Cousins then threw briefly to Adam Thielen instead of going to a wide-open Jefferson in the back of the end zone.
A play earlier, Cousins threw into the end zone behind Jefferson and the receiver couldn’t hold on.
The Saints started slowly again, although they emphasized a quick start all week. Alexander Mattison weaved through traffic for a 15-yard touchdown reception on Minnesota’s opening drive.
The Saints had no first downs in the first quarter, but safety Tyrann Mathieu intercepted a pass and Dalton then drove the Saints 60 yards and found Chris Olave for a 4-yard touchdown pass – the rookie’s first NFL touchdown – for the 7th -7 beginning of the second quarter.
The Vikings missed two good chances deep in Saints’ territory late in the second quarter. Tight end Johnny Mundt dropped a short pass to a third and one from the 10 and Minnesota opted for a field goal.
On the next possession, Dalton fumbled with a stripsack owned by Za’Darius Smith and Dalvin Tomlinson to give the Vikings the ball on the 20. They again settled for 3 points after an incompletion and a false start penalty. Joseph’s 36-yard field goal gave the Vikings a 13-7 lead at halftime.
GOOD LUCK IN LONDON
The Vikings improved 3-0 in games in London – with wins in three different stadiums. The Vikings defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-27 at Wembley Stadium in 2013 and four years later the Cleveland Browns 33-16 at Twickenham Stadium. This was the fifth NFL game at Tottenham, the Premier League club’s stadium that cost more than $1 billion to build and opened in 2019.
Vikings rookie Lewis Cine was carted off the field late in the first quarter with a leg injury. He blocked a punt return when he sustained the injury. O’Connell said Cine has a “broken lower leg” and will remain in London to have surgery. … DL Carl Granderson was out at half-time. Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas had been ruled out before the game and Kamara (rib) was inactive.
Vikings: Next Sunday to host NFC Northern rivals Chicago Bears; Your reunion is in week 7.
Saints: host the Seattle Seahawks in their first straight game in the Superdome.