Tom Brady threw for 311 yards and the tie-breaking touchdown Sunday as the New England Patriots retained the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoff picture by subduing the Minnesota Vikings 24-10 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.
Brady, who completed 24 of 32 passes, found Josh Gordon over the middle for a 24-yard scoring strike with 35 seconds left in the third quarter that made it 17-10. Fullback James Develin added his second short scoring run on the Patriots’ next drive, going 2 yards with 10:54 remaining in the game to set the final score.
New England (9-3) maintained a three-game lead on Miami in the AFC East and remained a game behind Kansas City, which held off Oakland 40-33, for the top seed in the AFC with four weeks left in the regular season.
Minnesota (6-5-1) missed on a chance to make up ground on Chicago, which remained 1 1/2 games ahead in the NFC Central despite its 30-27 overtime loss to the New York Giants. The Vikings also fell out of the NFC’s second wild-card spot to idle Washington, which plays Monday night against Philadelphia.
Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 32 of 44 passes, but for just 201 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
New England had little trouble slicing through the Minnesota defense on its first possession, ripping off an 81-yard, eight-play touchdown drive. Develin plunged over from the one with 9:33 left in the first quarter.
A 15-play drive by the Patriots in the second quarter resulted in just three points as the Vikings made a goal-line stand, forcing a third-down incompletion from the 1. Stephen Gostkowski’s 20-yard field goal upped the margin to 10-0 at the 5:45 mark.
Minnesota’s offense finally found its dangerous wide receivers, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, during a successful two-minute drill to end the first half. Diggs caught passes of 24 and 10 yards to help push the ball to the 5, and Thielen caught his first pass of the game with 15 seconds left in the half to make it a 10-7 game at halftime.
—Field Level Media