Going into Sunday afternoon’s Wild Card playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, the Minnesota Vikings were pretty much universally dismissed.
Fortunately, it turns out that you have to play these games on the field rather than on the internet.
The Vikings saw a 10-point fourth-quarter lead slip away, only to take the opening possession of overtime and march down the field for the winning touchdown, giving them a 26-20 upset victory over the Saints.
Things got off to a rough start for the Vikings after they elected to receive the opening kickoff. On their third play from scrimmage, Kirk Cousins connected with Adam Thielen on a short pass, but he was hit by Vonn Bell and fumbled it away with the Saints recovering in Minnesota territory. The Saints were only able to turn the turnover into a field goal, as Will Lutz connected from 29 yards out to give the home team an early 3-0 lead.
The Vikings evened things up on their next possession, as Dan Bailey connected on a 43-yard field goal to make it 3-3. Minnesota was pounding the Saints on the drive until they attempted to run a reverse to Stefon Diggs that looked like it was meant to be a pass but wound up getting stuffed for a six-yard loss.
That was all the scoring for the first quarter, and the Saints got the game’s first touchdown nearly midway through the second quarter. Taysom Hill. . .not Drew Brees. . .connected on a 50-yard bomb to rookie Deonte Harris, and that put the Saints in position to get a 4-yard touchdown run from Alvin Kamara to take the lead at 10-3.
Minnesota answered back on their next drive, thanks to a healthy dose of Dalvin Cook. They pushed all the way down to the New Orleans 3-yard line for a first-and-goal, but wound up settling for a 21-yard field goal from Bailey to make it 10-6.
The Vikings got a big momentum changer on the next series, as Drew Brees tried a deep shot of his own and wound up getting intercepted by Anthony Harris. Harris brought the pick back into Saints territory and the Vikings were in business just before the two-minute warning.
Anthony Harris pick pic.twitter.com/BfNHsHDgPk— Arif Hasan, orbital traveler (@ArifHasanNFL) January 5, 2020
Minnesota took advantage of the turnover, as they capped their possession with a 5-yard touchdown run by Dalvin Cook. Dan Bailey added the extra point, and the Vikings took a 13-10 lead. The Saints got themselves into position for a 43-yard field goal try for Will Lutz just before the half thanks to a huge kickoff return, but he pushed it wide to the right, giving the Vikings the lead going into the locker room at halftime.
The Vikings extended their lead in the third quarter, thanks to another touchdown run by Dalvin Cook. He went over from a yard out after a nice drive from the Vikings, keyed by a 34-yard pass from Cousins to Thielen, and the Vikings took the lead 20-10. That’s where things stood going into the fourth quarter.
New Orleans then cut back into the Minnesota lead with a little over ten minutes left, as Brees found Hill for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Lutz made the extra point, and the lead for the Vikings was down to 20-17.
It looked like the Saints were on their way to the go-ahead score, as they were down to the Minnesota 20-yard line. However, Danielle Hunter got to Drew Brees in the backfield and stripped Brees of the football, with Jalyn Holmes recovering at the Minnesota 37-yard line to squelch the drive.
For a moment, it looked like the Saints had taken the lead, as a fumble by Dalvin Cook was picked up by the Saints and returned for a touchdown. After further review, however, it was ruled that Cook was down. The Vikings punted the ball away, and the Saints got it back at their own 30-yard line with 1:55 remaining and one timeout left.
New Orleans got themselves into position for Will Lutz to try another field goal, this one a 49-yard attempt from the right hash. He split the uprights, and the game went into overtime, tied at 20-20.
In overtime, the Vikings got the ball first, and took it right down the field. Cousins hit Thielen for a big 43-yard pass to the New Orleans 2-yard line. Then, on third down, Cousins found Kyle Rudolph in the back corner of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a huge upset.
Cousins’ numbers weren’t dazzling or anything. . .he completed 19-of-32 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown. . .but he did enough to give the Vikings their first road playoff victory since January of 2005.
Dalvin Cook had a big game for the Vikings, as he carried the ball 28 times for 94 yards and a pair of scores. Adam Thielen also had a big game, as he caught seven passes for 129 yards and set up the winning score in overtime.
With the win, the Vikings will move on to play the San Francisco 49ers next Saturday on the West Coast. Kickoff for that one will happen at 3:35 PM Central time. The Saints’ season is over, and that’s pretty awesome, too.
The Minnesota Vikings pull off a huge playoff upset, taking down the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome by a final score of 26-20 in overtime. Thank you to everybody that got their coverage of this week’s game right here at The Daily Norseman!