In what was one of the craziest endings to a game in NFL history, the Minnesota Vikings outlasted the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Down 24-23 with 10 seconds to go, the Vikings chances of winning the game and keeping their dream season alive were becoming hazier and hazier. Luck, though, happened to be on Minnesota’s side.
A missed tackle led to wide receiver Stefon Diggs galloping into the end-zone for the game-winning touchdown. It also meant that the dreams of winning the franchises’ first Super Bowl were within reach as well.
With that, here is how I am going to grade the offense, defense, and special teams from Sunday’s Divisional Round win.
The offense for the Vikings was excellent for the entire afternoon.
Quarterback Case Keenum entered his first ever playoff game with a lot of pressure on his shoulders and did he ever deliver. Keenum threw for 318 yards, completing 25 of his 40 passes.
He also executed the play that turned out to quite possibly be the biggest in the franchises’ history. On the other side, having a great wide receiver also helps.
Diggs had an incredible afternoon, as he caught six receptions for 137 yards and the most significant touchdown reception of his entire life.
Every player on offense seemed to click throughout the entire game. Ultimately, the trust that this unit had in one another was an immense part of the victory.
Up front, the offensive line also performed well.
The offensive line created a lot of opportunities for the Vikings to break free for big plays, but they also allowed Keenum be comfortable. Keenum was sacked just two times for a total of 10 yards.
Minnesota’s defense was outstanding on Sunday. Led by linebacker Eric Kendricks, the Vikings were able to hold the Saints to a limited number of significant plays.
Kendricks had 10 total tackles in the game and was extremely disruptive.
To add on, Minnesota was also able to stop the Saints when needed. At the end of the first half, it looked like the Vikings were going to rout the Saints, and that was due in large part to the defense.
Minnesota was able to shut out the Saints in the first half, 17-0. New Orleans, though, responded well in the second half, where they would make up the difference by scoring three touchdowns — two by wide receiver Michael Thomas.
Overall, despite second-half mistakes, this team was able to avoid a solid game from Drew Brees and sensational rookie Alvin Kamara.
Kicker Kai Forbath had a great afternoon, kicking the biggest field goal of his life to top the afternoon off.
With the pressure clearly on Forbath — who missed a field goal that would have put the Vikings up six points at one point during the game — he nailed a 53-yard field goal. At that time of the game, that field goal put the Vikings up 23-21.
Despite having a punt blocked, punter Ryan Quigley also played well. Quigley had four punt attempts — two of his punts going inside the 20-yard line.
Quigley continues to impress — as he has done all season. In fact, for the first time all season, Sunday marked the first punt attempt he had that went for a touchback.
That consistency alone is impressive.
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