It’s been hours since Stefon Diggs scampered 61 yards in to Vikings history, and I honestly have no idea what to write. I could write about the amazing, near perfect first half, the disastrous, near-choke-for-the-ages second half, or The Play That Makes Me Think This Is A Team Of Destiny.
As Vikings fans, we’ve seen tragedy and we’ve seen amazing, but I don’t know that we’ve ever seen anything quite like this. Sure, there have been a couple other plays that are right up there, but this was different.
This was something special. This was revenge for 2009, and our own
Drew Pearson Stefon Diggs Hail Mary, all rolled in to one. This was something that happens to the Vikings, not something that was done by the Vikings.
And, like Mike Zimmer has said a couple of times this season, it was thanks due in large part due to to Case Keenum, Stefon Diggs, and some ‘big balls’.
And when you’re on this kind of roll, it’s Balls of fire, if you will. Isn’t that right, Mr. Lewis?
You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain
Too much love drives a man insane
You broke my will, but what a thrill
Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire
I usually have something clever here, but not tonight. I’m spent. SMR follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Stefon Diggs, WR: Randy Moss was the greatest WR in Vikings history. This was the greatest play by a Vikings wide receiver in team history. Yeah yeah yeah, Greg Lewis and Ahmad Rashad, I get it. But consider—Lewis’ catch was the third game of the season, and Rashad’s was to get in to the playoffs. This was to win a playoff game. On a Hail Mary play, against the ONE TEAM a lot of fans felt robbed the Vikings of some 2009 destiny. A lot of people thought a win against the Saints, followed by a win against the Falcons, would restore some sort of karmic Justice to the Vikings franchise. We’ll take a win against the Saints on a Hail Mary, kill two nightmares with one throw, and Drew Pearson can still suck it because he pushed off.
Case Keenum, QB: This is Case Keenum, in GIF form:
Adam Thielen, WR: Up until the Diggs Miracle, Thielen had the biggest play of the game, a 24 yard completion late in the fourth quarter that set the Vikings up for a 53 yard go ahead field goal by Kai Forbath. He ended up with 74 yards on six catches and one of the most overlooked, great catches in team history. Like Ted Brown.
So I could sit here and talk about the second half defensive collapse. It was kind of encapsulated in the play of Eric Kendricks, who went from first half GOAT to the the guy that gave up the go ahead touchdown to Alvin Kamara late. I could also talk about the Vikings special teams, that missed a field goal and had a punt blocked, but also made a clutch field goal with 1:30 left.
But you know what? The Minnesota Vikings are in the freaking NFC Championship game, thanks to the biggest single play in team history. And it was because of some big freaking balls, intestinal fortitude, and a never say die attitude, and if you think I’m going to drop trou on that tonight, you’re either a Saints fan or a heartless bastard with no soul.
Enjoy this win, and we’ll deal with any possible recriminations later.
Buy: There is something special here. I was pretty beat down after the Saints hit that field goal with 29 seconds left, and it was going to be another bitter pill to swallow to those dirty cheating bastards. This kind of ending just doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t. This is something that happens TO the Vikes, not something the Vikes do to other teams. Amazing. This is right up there with Jack Morris and Kirby Puckett in 1991.
Sell: This team is cursed. Good teams make their own luck. Bad teams find ways to lose. For years, the Vikings have found ways to snatch defeat defeat from the jaws of victory, and those losses begat talk of curses.
This team made plays when they had to, and when they needed to pull a rabbit out of a hat they did. Wins like this are franchise altering, in a good way, and if there is a sea change in the fortunes of this franchise, years from now we may be able to point at this game, and That Play, and say ‘This was when it changed. This was our Tuck Rule play.’
Buy: This couldn’t happen to a better team. You know, if you’ve been a Vikings fans for awhile, you know you’ve cheered for teams and players that have been kinda sketchy. And I’m not here to finger wag and proclaim ‘shame on you’ because I have been right there with you, deflecting and rationalizing abd saying to myself ‘well, if they win the Super Bowl I can look past it.’
Only they never did. Star crossed on the field, with moments off the field that make you scratch your head and go ‘This team, man. This damn team’. But since Mike Zimmer became the head coach, Zim and GM Rick Spielman have went out and signed guys that can not only play, but signed guys you WANT to cheer for. This team used to be one where you just kind of held your nose and thought ‘eh, I can do this for three hours once a week’, and it’s transformed into guys like Case Keenum, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Everson Griffen. Guys that were later round draft picks—if they were even drafted at all—and have bought in to something that’s greater than themselves. They’re playing on a great team, for each other, in the best stadium in the NFL. It’s gone from a team that at times you felt obligated to cheer for to a team you WANT to cheer for, and are proud to cheer for.
Sell: The Saints didn’t deserve to lose like this. Oh but they totally did. This was for 2009. This was for Bountygate, Brett Favre’s disfigured ankle, 12 men in the huddle, Ben Leber’s phantom pass interference, and all of the maddening garbage of That Game that has sat in our bellies like a bad hot dog for eight years and has never really gone away. The 2009 NFC Championship was a game where a lot of Vikings fans felt like the Saints stole one, and it’s not very often you get a chance to right that wrong. And with 10 seconds left, I‘ll admit my thoughts were more ‘not again’ than they were ‘we can do this’, and I was mad, and angry, and questioning a lot of life decisions.
And then...61 yards through the Heart Of The South (apologies to Eleven Warriors and Zeke Elliott).
Buy: This was the single greatest moment in Vikings history. We can have a more in depth conversation about the best individual play in Vikings history, but right now there are four that I immediately think of. They are what is now being called the Keenum to Diggs Minneapolis Miracle, the Metrodome Miracle, the Miracle at the Met, and the 1976 Bobby Bryant blocked FG TD return in the NFC Championship against the Rams (watch the whole clip, but the block FG return starts at 1:15). Most of you don’t remember the Bryant play, but that completely changed the feel of the ‘76 NFC Championship, and a lot of older folks (read your parents and grandparents) might put that play at number one.
But that happened in the first quarter, and there was a lot of football left to play after that. With the Favre-to-Lewis Metrodome Miracle, that was only the third game of the season. Yeah, it helped the Vikings to get to 3-0 (and eventually 6-0) on the season, but it was still early.
For me, the only other play that holds up is the 1980 Miracle at the Met, the Tommy Kramer to Ahmad Rashad Hail Mary that beat the Browns and gave the Vikes the 1980 NFC Central Division Championship. As amazing a play as that was, it was just to get to the playoffs, not win a playoff game. (And ironically, they would lose the next week to the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs).
When you add up the opponent and past history, combined with it being a trip to go to the NFC Championship, and the ABSOLUTE DELICIOUS IRONY IN BEATING THE SAINTS ON A WALK OFF PLAY...yeah, this was the best moment in team history.
Sell: This is the end of the season. As amazing as this season and this game was...this isn’t the end. There is still the NFC Championship next week in Philadelphia, and then, hopefully, a game after that back home in the friendly confines of US Bank Stadium. There’s a lot more to play for, and you get the feeling as big as this moment was, there will be bigger moments in the coming weeks. As fun and as memorable as this was, the Vikings need to come back down to earth, re-focus, and get ready to go to Philly.
Don Glover Moment Of The Week:
This has been a bittersweet season for me. My Dad passed away back in July, and this season has felt kind of empty. It’s the first time since 2008 we haven’t watched games together. After Stefon Diggs scored to win the game, and I had calmed the Hell down, I chuckled, thinking at what my Dad would have said:
‘Well that was a hell of a lot of fun, but we got two more to go.’
Indeed we do, Dad. Indeed we do. You were here today, I know it. We’ll see you next week.
So, it’s off to Philly for a chance to play in the Super Bowl at home. We’ll have plenty on that game, but for now, for one last time...or one hundred more times...enjoy Stefon Diggs rolling through the heart of the old South more efficiently than William Tecumseh Sherman: