The Minnesota Vikings Joe Mixon Youth Jersey , after watching their late-third-quarter 17-point lead vanish at the hands of the indefatigable Drew Brees, went back in front of the New Orleans Saints on a field goal with 1:29 left.
Trailing by two with that much time? That was no trouble for Brees, who moved the Saints in position for the responding field goal with 25 seconds remaining.
The problem was they left just enough space for Case Keenum and the Vikings to answer with one of the NFL’s all-time last-play stunners.
Keenum completed his last-ditch heave near the sideline Sunday on the game’s final play to Stefon Diggs, who slithered away from the Saints for a 61-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 29-24 victory and a spot in the NFC championship game at Philadelphia.
”I don’t know what the percentage was,” Keenum said, ”but just try to give the guy a chance.”
The play the Vikings ran, believe it or not, is called ”Seven Heaven.” Kyle Rudolph, Jarius Wright and Diggs all ran sideline routes from the right of the formation, with Diggs the deepest with his break coming at about 25 yards.
This wasn’t quite as improbable of a play as Franco Harris on the Immaculate Reception for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1972 playoffs , which was also in the divisional round, but these Vikings are on some kind of special path.
The Vikings were out of timeouts and nearly out of options when Keenum took the snap with 10 seconds left and dropped back from his 39-yard line. He lofted a throw to Diggs, who jumped in front of Marcus Williams before the Saints rookie whiffed on his awkward attempt to cut underneath Diggs for a tackle.
Nobody was behind him in the secondary Cheap Isaiah Wynn Jersey , as Diggs knew before he pivoted to keep his balance, keep his feet in bounds and keep running across the goal line.
”I had a pretty good view of it,” Rudolph said. ”I couldn’t believe it. Things just don’t work out that way.”
Particularly for the Vikings, whose previous victory in the playoffs had been after the 2009 season at home against Dallas in the divisional round. They lost in overtime the following week in the NFC championship game that year at New Orleans, one of the many late collapses in team lore that have conditioned Minnesotans to brace for the worst. So while only defensive end Brian Robison is still around from that painful loss to the Saints, this thriller at least served as a leveler of sorts for a fan base accustomed to being on the other side.
”It’s a turning point for everybody,” Diggs said. ”The majority of people doubt us. They don’t think it’s going to happen, especially because of history. People have a way of saying history repeats itself. I guess this is not one of those cases.”
Now the Vikings can become the first team to play in a Super Bowl on their home turf, if they beat the Eagles. Instead of the usual win-or-go-home stakes, they’re in a win-and-go-home situation.
”It would’ve been nice to be home, but I feel like if we take care of business the way we’re supposed to we’ll have another chance to see our fans,” Diggs said.
Here are some other key developments during the game:
Brees will turn 39 on Monday, a celebration that’s sure to be muted so soon after this crushing loss. After finishing 7-9 in four of the previous five seasons Josh Allen Jersey , the Saints were one of the NFL’s biggest breakout stories in 2017 with an energized and revamped defense and the potent running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. But how long will Brees, whose contract is expiring, want to stick around with a Super Bowl ring already in hand?
”I’m more toward the end of my career than I am at the beginning, I know that,” Brees said. ”That’s all I’ll divulge.”
Brees finished 25 for 40 for 294 yards and three touchdowns, all in the final 16:16 of the game, but his performance was tainted a bit by two costly interceptions before halftime. One came on a leaping grab by safety Andrew Sendejo that set up a touchdown drive for the Vikings in the second quarter. The other came off a tip by Everson Griffen at the line that sent the ball fluttering into Anthony Barr’s arms at the Minnesota 10-yard line to thwart the next possession.
Ted Ginn had broken open on a post pattern on the first one, a first-and-10 play from the New Orleans 15, and Brees saw an opportunity.
”I just forced it. There was no reason to do that,” Brees said.
FORBATH FINISHES STRONG
Kai Forbath missed a 49-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds of the first half, but he was good from the same distance in the fourth quarter and again from 53 yards to put the Vikings up 23-21 with 89 seconds to go. That gave him three makes against the team that cut him right before the 2016 season in favor of Wil Lutz, whose 43-yard kick gave the Saints the lead before the Keenum-to-Diggs stunner.
”I was ready to kick another one,” Forbath said Kolton Miller Jersey , ”but what an incredible way to win.”
WOE FOR WILLIAMS
Williams was sobbing in front of his cubicle in the locker room afterward, his face buried in a folded white towel, before composing himself for a stand-up performance in front of the assembled press.
”I’m going to take it upon myself,” Williams said, ”to make sure nothing like this happens again to me.”
鈥?Zach Ertz went out wide in the formation in yet another play-calling twist by Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson, facing one-on-one coverage from New England safety Devin McCourty with the Patriots leading the Eagles by one point late in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.Ertz cut inside on a slant pattern, causing McCourty to stumble and trail the route, and moved into perfect position to catch the pass from Nick Foles and launch his body across the goal line with 2:21 left .The NFL’s frequently contested and often confusing process-of-the-catch rule left some doubt for the Eagles, with a nerve-wracking wait for the replay review to confirm the touchdown before the Eagles were officially in the lead.There’s no mystery about this, though: Ertz has turned himself into one of the league’s elite tight ends.“He just really had a solid year, all the way around,” right tackle Lane Johnson said. “He really improved on his blocking this offseason, took a lot of things to heart. Just became a better football player Cheap Breeland Speaks Jersey , man, and caught that touchdown there at the end. I just couldn’t be happier for him. He works his tail off.”Ertz had seven catches for 67 yards to help Foles and the Eagles outlast the Patriots 41-33 in a Super Bowl that featured the most combined yardage gained in the history of the NFL in the modern era.The most important of the nine times Foles threw his way was that play that culminated with the ball popping up in the air after Ertz landed on the green Eagles paint in the end zone.Ertz caught it on the ricochet, but the key for the legality of the play was going to be whether he turned himself into a runner before crossing the plane or if he was still in the process of making the catch. The former was the ruling.“That seemed like an eternity over there. I mean, if they overturn that, I don’t even know what’s a catch anymore,” Ertz said.“I had three steps in the ground. I extended for it. My back leg dragged on the ground. The city of Philly would’ve been hot if they’d have overturned that. Luckily for our city they did not.”With a career-high eight touchdown catches with 824 receiving yards in 14 games during the regular season, Ertz came through with the kind of performance that he needed after a trying year for both him and the team in 2016.During a December defeat that season in Cincinnati, Pederson said afterward that not all of his players gave maximum effort. Ertz was caught on camera sliding through a pair of Bengals defenders , including hard-hitting linebacker Vontaze Burfict, during one play while quarterback Carson Wentz scrambled out of bounds.“I never really shied away from that situation I had to endure. There were some people that would say it was definitely just. It was tough. I love that the fans never gave up on me,” Ertz said. “I told them at the time that they would never question my effort again, and I’m lucky to be in this situation playing for this city, and I never take it for granted.”With Rob Gronkowski on the other side Vontaze Burfict Youth Jersey , Ertz was automatically going to be the bridesmaid tight end in this game , despite his emergence as one of the NFL’s best.Now Ertz will not only have the Super Bowl ring that Gronkowski already possessed in double, but he’ll be able to catch up in the trophy case at home. His wife, Julie Ertz, has a World Cup championship from 2015 for the U.S. national soccer team . They were married last March.“She’s just so happy for me,” Ertz said, adding: “Our marriage is extremely strong even though we’re pulled in 1,000 different directions.”.
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