Stunner: Keenum-Diggs TD on last play; Vikes win 29-24
This wasn't quite Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception for Pittsburgh in the 1972 playoffs, but this Vikings team is on some kind of special path. It finished 13-3 during the regular season, giving the career backup Keenum the keys to the offense after Sam Bradford went down with a knee injury after the opener.
The Vikings will play at Philadelphia next weekend, after Jacksonville takes on New England for the AFC title. The Super Bowl is in Minnesota two weeks later.
Now the Vikings have spun an unprecedented scenario in NFL history. Next weekend, instead of the usual win-or-go-home stakes, they're in a win-and-go-home situation with the Super Bowl set for Feb. 4 under the reverberating translucent roof of U.S. Bank Stadium.
Though only defensive end Brian Robison remains from the 2009 team that lost in overtime of the NFC championship game at New Orleans, the Vikings exacted some revenge on Brees and the Saints, at least for their long-frustrated fans.
They put them through quite the emotional finish to complete it.
Brees connected with Michael Thomas for two touchdown passes in a span of 3:09 of the second half. The first score came after a 12-play, 80-yard drive. The second was set up at the Minnesota 40 by an interception by Williams after an off-balance throw by Keenum, his one costly moment of either inexperience or recklessness.
Saints coach Sean Payton lost two challenges and thus two timeouts on the next drive by the Vikings, which ended with a successful 49-yard kick by Kai Forbathafter he missed from the same distance right before halftime.