FOXBORO, Mass. — It was a tale of two halves for the New England Patriots in their 24-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
The Patriots couldn’t get much going on offense early as they went into halftime leading 10-7. The Vikings tied the game midway through the third quarter before the Patriots broke it open with touchdowns on consecutive possessions at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth.
Here’s who helped the Patriots most as they improved to 9-3 on the season.
DE TREY FLOWERS
The Patriots’ best pass rusher forced two third-down incompletions with pressure. The first came early in the second quarter when he hurried Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins on a throw to running back Dalvin Cook.
His second came on a sack on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Vikings were forced to punt after both plays. The Patriots kicked a field goal on the first ensuing drive. They scored a touchdown on the second.
CB STEPHON GILMORE
Gilmore had a difficult assignment against Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs. He allowed just three catches on four targets for 15 yards. If Flowers isn’t the Patriots’ best defensive player, then Gilmore is.
CB JASON MCCOURTY
McCourty and his twin, Devin, let up a touchdown to wide receiver Adam Thielen. Beyond that play, the cornerback helped limit Thielen to four catches on eight targets for 19 yards with the score.
WR JOSH GORDON
Gordon oddly wasn’t targeted in the first half. He went off in the second half for three catches on three targets for 58 yards with a touchdown.
It especially was strange the Patriots didn’t target Gordon in the first half because the Vikings were shallow at cornerback after Trae Waynes went out with a concussion while Xavier Rhodes was limited with a hamstring injury.
Perhaps the Patriots were playing some cat and mouse.
FB JAMES DEVELIN
The Patriots fullback scored two touchdowns and cured their short-yardage woes near the red zone at least. They were Develin’s second and third touchdowns of the season. He now has four regular-season touchdowns in his career.
Safety Duron Harmon had a fourth-quarter interception.
Cornerback JC Jackson asserted himself well in his first start, allowing six catches on 10 targets for 39 yards with a pass breakup.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy let up four catches on four targets for just 12 yards. He also had a QB hit that forced a third-down incompletion.
Defensive tackle Adam Butler sacked Cousins.
The Patriots offensive line didn’t allow a sack. Quarterback Tom Brady was hit just once all game.