Vikings’ Kirk Cousins connects with Justin Jefferson for early score

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Vikings kick returner Kene Nwangwu returned a 97-yard kickoff for a touchdown Thursday night in the third quarter, allowing the Vikings to level back-and-forth play with the New England Patriots 23-23.

Nwangwu returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in 2021 but had yet to score in 2022. He is the first player to return a kickoff for a touchdown against the Patriots since 2010 when CJ Spiller returned one for the Buffalo Bills.

Most teams have avoided stepping after Nwangwu this season and he entered the game with 19 overall in the season. His touchdown Thursday night came on his fourth return of the game.

The Vikings also scored an early goal to open the game. In fact, they still have the best opening offense in football.

Kirk Cousins’ 6-yard touchdown pass to receiver Justin Jefferson was her seventh touchdown on a game’s opening drive this season. That’s two more than any other 31 teams in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Jefferson caught two passes on the drive, four days after catching a total of three passes in the Vikings’ 40-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. He is nearing the NFL record for most yards in the first three seasons of a career, one currently held by former Vikings receiver Randy Moss (4,163).

After his touchdown catch, Jefferson’s career yardage total was 4,122. Vikings’ Kirk Cousins connects with Justin Jefferson for early score

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