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Vikings clinch NFC North title with biggest comeback in NFL history

The Minnesota Vikings are back in the playoffs -- clinching the NFC North division title in historic fashion on Saturday.

The Vikings stormed back from a 33-point halftime deficit to stun the Colts, 39-36, in overtime at a raucous U.S. Bank Stadium.

The 33-point comeback is the largest in NFL history.

Saturday's shocking result appeared to be the furthest possible outcome after the first 30 minutes. The Colts stormed out to a 33-0 halftime lead on the strength of a blocked kick returned for a touchdown and a pick-six.

But Kirk Cousins and the Vikings mounted a furious rally over the final two frames, punctuated by Dalvin Cook's 64-yard catch and run that pulled Minnesota within two. Cousins then connected with tight end T.J. Hockenson on the two-point attempt to force OT.

From there the Vikings and Colts traded punts to before Cousins drove Minnesota 55 yards on six plays to set up Greg Joseph's game-winning field goal.

"We just pulled off the biggest comeback in NFL history, OK. I need a second," Cousins told NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero after the game. "How did we do it? Team. It was an ugly first half, but we found a way. Complimentary football. A lot of phases, a lot of plays, a lot of plays I'd love to have back in the second half, too, but we'll take it."

Cousins added: "There was belief. (Cornerback) Patrick Peterson said all we needed was five touchdowns. I thought he was being sarcastic. Obviously, there was some yelling. There was some frustration, but that doesn't just happen. Basic people don't do that, what we just did."

Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell told reporters that Peterson's message to the offense was the perfect antidote to their woeful first half.

"Patrick Peterson, I'll never forget it for as long as I live," O'Connell said. "I walked out to address the team before we went back out there, and I just overheard him walk over toward the offense (and) said, 'We're going to get stops. You just need five touchdowns. That's nothing.' It was a nice little moment for me to lead right in off of.

"I said, 'Pat you're exactly right.' That's what we needed at the time, and it was probably the most motivated I've been to challenge out players. So they just knew that regardless of the outcome today, that first half was not good enough and will never be acceptable to have that kind of performance regardless of the outcome today. Nobody is happier to be NFC North champions and the way that we earned it, think it will stick with a lot of us for a long time. But there's still a lot to go back and to make sure we rectify and continue to improve."

This marks the Vikings' first division title since the 2017 season and their first playoff berth since 2019.

Those playoff berths came with Mike Zimmer as head coach, but O'Connell has led a Vikings resurgence as the 11-3 squad has wrapped up a division crown with three games still to play.

Entering Week 15, the Vikings were the NFC’s No. 2 seed. With a playoff berth and a home game sewn up, they have an outside chance at moving past the No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles and locking up the conference's only bye. More realistically, Minnesota's onus will be on holding down the second seed.

Regardless, the Vikings are NFC North champs and back in the playoffs after a two-season hiatus.

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