No other word can so aptly describe the feeling from players and fans alike after what they had just witnessed. When all signs pointed to the opposite, the Minnesota Vikings pulled off a miracle.
Vikings fans have been constantly reminded of the failures that have haunted the team in the past. Blair Walsh’s playoff miss against the Seahawks in 2015 is a fresh sting, one that created such a ripple in the faith of the Vikings fan base. Losing heartbreaking NFC championship games in 1998, 2000, and 2009 to prevent a trip to the Super Bowl had already shredded the hope of many fans before. And that’s only recently – the Vikings also have four Super Bowl losses in their back pocket.
That’s why Sunday’s miraculous moment was so unbelievable – it truly shouldn’t have happened to this franchise.
Facing insurmountable odds, Case Keenum and the Vikings offense lined up at the 25-yard line, with just 24 seconds on the clock. Immediately, a five-yard false start penalty put a major dent in any type of aspirations the Vikings had for that drive. A quick dart upfield to Stefon Diggs put the Vikings at their own 41-yard line – setting up the play that’s been replayed on TVs across the state all night long.
On a designed play dubbed “Seven Heaven,” Keenum dropped back in the pocket and fired a bomb to Diggs on the right side of the field. Getting out of bounds after the catch was the main objective and what everyone watching was clamoring for. Instead, when Diggs reeled in the catch, Saints rookie safety Marcus Williams completely whiffed on the tackle – and took out the only player with a fighting chance at catching up to Diggs. Diggs turned around, looked upfield and saw daylight.
End zone. Touchdown.
The noise that erupted in U.S. Bank Stadium was the collective sound of a curse being lifted; of a team willing themselves to achieve greatness, and 60,000+ fans exploding in a manner in which they likely haven’t ever before.
Lost in all of this? There’s still lots of football to be played. Next week, the Vikings will travel to Philly for a date with the number one seed Eagles. That sounds very daunting; however, the Eagles will be without MVP candidate Carson Wentz, All-Pro lineman Jason Peters, and other key role players. After watching the Eagles take on the Falcons last week, there wasn’t much fear struck into the minds of the Vikings faithful. Now-starting QB Nick Foles had a very mediocre game, leading many to believe the elite Vikings defense will have no problem tearing him to shreds.
Watching Diggs confidently flex in front of the raucous U.S. Bank Stadium was a moment that will forever be etched into Minnesota Sports lore. It brought back vivid memories of Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett celebrating on the scorer’s table after defeating Sacramento in 2004. It was like Kirby Puckett in 1991, Nino Niederreiter in 2014 – and now it’s Stefon Diggs, 2018, that fits on the Mount Rushmore of Minnesota sports history.
The Vikings are one win away from being the first team to play in their own stadium for the Super Bowl. Vikings fans and executives alike have been waiting for this moment for decades, and it seems like it’s finally here. Let it all out Vikings fans – you deserve it.