KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Harrison Butker watched his 44-yard field goal split the uprights, the clocks inside Arrowhead Stadium reading zero, and the Chiefs kicker turned and sprinted the other way in celebration.
The first person to join him? Patrick Mahomes.
The reigning league MVP, who missed his second straight game while recovering from a dislocated kneecap, looked just fine as he joined Butker and the rest of his Kansas City teammates in a midfield mob after their heart-stopping 26-23 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
“I was sprinting down, maybe just from my soccer background growing up – that’s what you do when you score,” said Butker, who thought the winner may have been tipped. “When I was going I saw Patrick, and I wanted to embrace him and I’m like, ‘Nah, he can’t get hurt.'”
Matt Moore started in Mahomes’ place and threw for 275 yards and a touchdown, and he made the crucial plays when they mattered. He hit favorite target Tyreek Hill to convert a key third down and set up Butker’s career best-tying 54-yard field goal to knot the game, then found Hill again a couple minutes later to make the winner a little more manageable.
“I thought, Matt, that was a gutsy performance by him,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, whose team snapped a three-game skid at Arrowhead Stadium. “He took a couple of licks there and he got back up and finished. But just him calming the storm I thought was good.”
Hill finished with six catches for 140 yards for the Chiefs (6-3), including a spectacular TD grab, while Damien Williams ran for 125 yards – most of it on a 91-yard touchdown run.
Kirk Cousins threw for 220 yards and three touchdowns for the Vikings (6-3), though he struggled to deal with the Chiefs’ blitzes late in the game. Dalvin Cook was held to 71 yards rushing while top wide receiver Stefon Diggs had a single catch for four yards.
The Chiefs largely controlled the first half, building a 10-7 lead with the ball in the closing minutes. But they proceeded to go three-and-out, the Vikings marched downfield for a tying field goal, then got the ball back when Mecole Hardman fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half .
Suddenly, it was the Vikings who had taken control.
They needed just five plays to punch it into the end zone, despite a holding penalty setting them back. Amir Abdullah finished it with a 17-yard catch in which nobody was within 10 yards of him.
Hardman hurt the Chiefs again by failing to call a fair catch on a punt downed at their 3. But that flub was rendered irrelevant when Williams took a handoff, found a gaping hole on the left side of the line and made the only safety in front of him miss on a 91-yard touchdown run .
“We misfitted a little bit,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “We had a pressure coming off the outside, we got a little wide and then we missed tackles.”
Minnesota answered in the seesaw affair.
Leaning heavily on Cook, the league’s leading rusher, the Vikings marched 75 yards without facing third down until the final play. That’s when Cousins hit Kyle Rudolph from 3 yards out for the score, taking advantage of a Kansas City defense with just 10 players on the field.
After trading punts, the Chiefs put together another drive. Moore hit Hill to convert a key third down, and Butker matched his career long with a 54-yard field goal with 2:30 to go.
It was a monumental kick – and he had another coming a couple minutes later.
“This was a great win, a great team win,” Hill said. “We all did our thing, and this team needed this victory because the vibe in the locker room the last few weeks has been down. This is great, especially against a great team like this that has got a great quarterback, great coach, great team, period. So, this was a great win for us.”
Chiefs DT Chris Jones, back after missing three games to a groin injury, wreaked havoc at the line of scrimmage. He was instrumental in holding Cook in check, harassed Cousins all game and forced an incompletion that led to the Vikings’ final punt of regulation.
Vikings: WR Adam Thielen left late in the first quarter after aggravating a hamstring injury that first occurred against Detroit and kept him out last week against Washington. “You know, it’s not ideal,” Cousins said, “but you look at their sideline and they’re missing people. You understand at this point in the season you have to respond when you face adversity and we’re probably healthier than many teams. You have to still find a way to get the job done.”
Chiefs: Along with Mahomes, the Chiefs were missing starting LT Eric Fisher (groin), RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle), CB Kendall Fuller (thumb) and DEs Frank Clark (neck) and Alex Okafor (ankle).
Minnesota visits the Cowboys next Sunday night.
Kansas City visits the Titans next Sunday.
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