KANSAS CITY, Mo.—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 yesterday.
“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 favourite 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.
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.
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 defence 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.
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.
In other NFL action, the Texans shellacked the Jaguars 26-3; the Dolphins beat the Jets 26-18; the Panthers toppled the Titans 30-20; the Bulls trampled the Redskins 24-9; the Steelers edged the Colts 26-24; the Eagles defeated the Bears 22-14; the Broncos bucked the Browns 24-19; the Ravens soared past the Patriots 37-20; the Chargers zapped the Packers 26-11; the Seahawks sunk the Buccaneers 40-34; and the Raiders plundered the Lions 31-24.