FINAL: Vikings stun Saints on game winner, 29-24
It took a heroic comeback from New Orleans, but in the end Minnesota stuns the Saints in the final seconds of regulation booking their trip to the NFC Championship game.
It looked as though New Orleans had come back from the dead twice, but with the clock expiring Case Kennum hit Stefon Diggs down the sideline, he would then break free 61-yards for a game winning touchdown as time expired on the game clock. In dramatic fashion the Saints season came to a screeching hault falling 29-24 in the NFC Divisional Playoff.
Home field advantage played a key role early on for the Vikings. New Orleans opened the game by going three-and-out, an incomplete pass to Alvin Kamara on third-and-5 as their season-long woes on third downs continue.
After a big punt return by Minnesota, the Saints defense allowed the Vikings offense to go 2-for-2 on third downs before RB Jerick McKinnon capped off the first-drive walking into the end-zone on a well-designed toss play.
Later in the first Saints cornerback Ken Crawley would pick up two consecutive pass interference calls setting up a Kai Forbath 20 yard field goal.
Things would then go from bad to worse for the Saints offense. Drew Brees would be picked off by Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo after under throwing Ted Ginn Jr.
Minnesota would answer with a 12-play 58-yard drive capped off by a Latavius Murray 1-Yard touchdown rush.
In a disastrous first half, Brees would be picked off for a second time on a tipped pass that was caught by LB Anthony Barr. That was the first time since week 7 Brees threw at least two interceptions in one game.
Just before the half New Orleans would catch a slight break. After a missed 58-yard attempt by Will Lutz, the Vikings would miss one of their own. Kai Forbath hooked a 49-yarder wide left. The Saints would head to Recess trailing 17-0.
In the third quarter the Saints finally put together an efficient TD drive. Brees connected with Michael Thomas on a 14-yard catch and strike to put the black and gold in the end-zone for the first time.
Then the ensuing possession the Saints got the big play they needed. Rookie safety Marcus Williams went up high to snag his fifth pick of the season, a turning point for the Saints in this game.
Already set up in Vikings territory, Brees would hook up with Michael Thomas for their second touchdown of the day. That would cut the Saints deficit 17-14.
And if things couldn't get anymore dramatic, in the 4th quarter the Saints special teams came up with arguably the play of the day. On 4th down Taysom Hill blocked a punt to set up New Orleans in prime real estate.
Then it was the rookie Alvin Kamara hauling in a leaping grab in the end-zone for a touchdown. Brees connected with Kamara from 14-yards out to give the Saints their first lead of the day.
Drew Brees would finish the day 25-of-40 for 294 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
With New Orleans eliminated, the Vikings now turn their attention to the Philadelphia Eagles for next weekends NFC title game.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) January 14, 2018