As I sit in U.S. Bank Stadium...awestruck...I still can’t believe it happened....
After waking up Saturday morning, I anxiously awaited a slew of NFL games that would determine the location of the NFC Championship game. I rooted for Atlanta, because like most Vikings fans, I wanted the road to the Superbowl to go through Minnesota. According to most betting sites, the Falcons were sure favorites to win against the Philadelphia Eagles. They Lost. The chance for home field advantage throughout the playoffs was gone. This became irrelevant, because the Vikings needed to win, and they could sort out the NFC Championship later.
I woke up Sunday morning to head to work, but before I left I told myself “I should bring a jersey just in case I can find cheap tickets.” As the day rolled on ticket prices kept skyrocketing, and my hope to find a decently priced ticket became scarce. I checked frantically every 10 minutes on various sites....Stub Hub...too high...Vivid Seats...still too high...Seat Geek...fees were too much. I had resolved to “ok I am not going, it’s not in the cards,” but as if to foreshadow the future, at 3:08pm I found a last minute miracle.
I got off work, and took a lyft to the stadium (I knew parking was going to be a nightmare). I awkwardly stumbled to my seat, and the Vikings were giving the Saints the business. Before I knew it, the score was 17-0, and those around me were already taking victory drinks, and singing celebratory songs. I still carried a nervous feeling from the night before.
I remember messaging a friend of mine the day before and said “I’m really nervous about tomorrow.” My friend responded in a way that could only calm my nervous...
“Don’t come at me with that nonsense”
“Good Vibes only”
“We got this”
Those words brought me back to the reality of the game. “Yeah we got this.” The atmosphere in the stadium felt like a light mist began on a warm summers day. The Skol chant thunderously filled the stadium, and not a single fan was sitting. The stadium was electric, and nothing could stop this momentum that enveloped the air.
No problem. We knew Brees was going to have a drive or two go his way, but for the most part we were playing well. The couple (I assume their name was Marge and Ben) next to me seemed slightly disinterested, I didn’t want their energy to affect my focus.
At this point it felt as if the legacy gates were cracked, and let in a swift, piercing air. Those nerves came back and looking around the stadium, fans were retiring back into their seats. What was happening? We had them on the ropes, but the vapor of victory was being sucked out of the stadium.
Something something something Brees scored again...something something Kai Forbath gave us the lead again. Its still too much time. The one scenario I feared was Drew Brees gets the ball with a minute to go.
Brees drove the ball down the field, and the Saints kicked a gut wrenching field goal. That was it. Our season was over. Good job at winning the division, and posting a 13-3 record. Marge and Ben left after that drive, because they knew, they didn’t admit it, but they knew. Season was over. Damn Marge and Ben
That’s how this was all going to end, because that's how it always ends...but it didn’t. After a few plays, 10 seconds remained. A few locked arms...and clenched butt cheeks stood, and watched what seemed to be the final chance at getting into field goal range. The pass whistled through the air, cutting through the silence that filled U.S. Bank stadium. Diggs Caught It! He Caught it! He's still going! All everyone could do was scream as he turned on the jets, and ran into the endzone.
What Just Happened?
Did we? Did we...win? There has to be a flag right? Surely Diggs stepped out, and squandered our only chance to win. No way did the Minnesota Vikings pull off a miracle last second victory. We did!
The joyous screams, the enthusiastic cheers continued until the Saints were forced to come back on the field for a PAT. The game was over, but no one wanted to leave their seats. High fives were given, I hugged almost every stranger I could find in the stadium. The synchronized “SKOL” chant filled every corridor. 20 minutes passed, and everyone was still standing in disbelief. Tears flowed like rain on a window pane, as nostalgia of '98, and '09 evoked heavy emotion. No one wanted to leave. Moving would have made the feeling less real. The minute you left your seat, Rodger Goodell would call, and take this moment away with some crap excuse.
I was shell shocked...I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I just called up fellow Daily Norseman Writer Eric Thompson, and we talked about how unbelievable it was...for 20 seconds, and then we hung up. Just like that.
This is not the end. This is not the end all be all, but for the time being enjoy this moment. We as Vikings fans deserve it. Even Marge and Ben.