NFL Divisional Weekend: Vikings Defeat Saints on Diggs’ Walk-Off TD
The Minnesota Vikings defeated the New Orleans Saints 29-24 at U.S. Bank Stadium to advance to the NFC Championship Game.
The Vikings saw themselves down 24-23 with 25 seconds left on the clock. Quarterback Case Keenum would try his best to get them at least into field goal range. On third-and-ten at their own 39-yard line, Keenum would throw up a pass to wide receiver Stefon Diggs. He did end up getting the catch, but safety Marcus William would attempt to hit Diggs, but would completely whiff, going past him. In turn, he took out cornerback Ken Crawley, leaving Diggs all alone to run it in for the 61-yard touchdown and the miraculous walk-off win.
The first half was all Vikings, as they dominated on both sides of the ball. On the opening drive, Case Keenum worked his way down the field, thanks to a 22-yard pass to Jarius Wright on a wheel route. The drive ended on a 14-yard run by Jerick McKinnon, giving Minnesota an early 7-0 lead.
After a 20-yard field goal by kicker Kai Forbath, the Vikings would cushion their lead on a one-yard rushing touchdown by Latavius Murray.
The Saints, on the other hand, could not get anything going in the first half. The running game was nonexistent. THe passing game was no better, where Brees was picked off by safety Andrew Sendejo late in the first quarter. The disastrous first half was solidified with a 52-yard missed field goal from Wil Lutz.
The second half was a whole different animal, as momentum shifted in the Saints’ favor. New Orleans would get on the board on wide receiver Michael Thomas’ 13-yard catch from Brees in the third quarter.
To further the shift, Keenum would throw a lob pass after receiving pressure from defensive end Cameron Jordan. The pass would end up in the hands of Williams for the interception. In scoring position, New Orleans would pick apart an exhausted Vikings defense. The drive would end with a three-yard touchdown catch from Thomas.
Minnesota would squeak ahead just after that, with a 49-yard successful kick from Forbath. That would momentarily put a stop to their disappointing second-half.
The bad string of luck for the Vikings would return, as Ryan Quigley’s punt would be blocked, setting the Saints up in scoring territory. Brees would connect with Alvin Kamara, who elevated over Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks to pull in the 14-yard score.
Minnesota would get onto the board late in the fourth quarter, thanks to a 53-yard field goal from Forbath.
With less than two minutes to go, the Saints would attempt to get ahead on the scoreboard. Sitting well out of field goal range, Brees would try to hit Thomas three times on the right side of the field. Each attempt was for naught. However, on fourth-and-ten, Brees completed a 13-yard pass to Willie Snead to get the Saints in field goal range. Lutz would successfully kick the 43-yarder to give New Orleans the lead with 25 seconds left in the game.
The kick would not be enough, as Diggs’ last second touchdown would send the Saints home with plenty of heartbreak.
Now, the Vikings move onto the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The goal is simple for Minnesota, and that’s to be the first team to host the Super Bowl on home turf.