A day after Case Keenum's toss to Stefon Diggs for a 61-yard walk-off touchdown to advance to the NFC Championship, it's likely many Vikings fans are still trying to process the incredible play and moments leading up to it.
*The moments came so fast, in such rapid succession, that it might be easy to forget some as time passes. As with any instant classic, though, it's worth trying to etch the indelible images into your mind. Try to remember Stefon Diggs suspended in midair, his feet dangling just high enough above the ground to avoid an attempted diving tackle. Hang on to the sight of Case Keenum reacting like every stunned onlooker as threw his hands atop his head and mouthed the words, "Oh my God" with Diggs standing in the end zone. Don't forget Diggs whipping his helmet to the ground, basking in the glow of his heroics, with his outstretched arms seeming to ask the world: *Are you not entertained?
Mays called the plays – dubbed "The Minneapolis Miracle" by "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen – a "finish for the ages." But he also reminded readers of the following:
Perspective was scarce in the immediate aftermath, but it's worth remembering that The Minneapolis Miracle was just a single, iconic moment from an all-time-great playoff game.
Mays recapped the Vikings impressive first half in which they held a 17-0 lead over the Saints and delved into the second half that was temporarily defined by 11-time Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees leading a New Orleans comeback.
But even after a tough interception, Keenum maintained confidence and continued to make plays, finding Adam Thielen and Jarius Wright for 24 and 27-yard gains, respectively.
Nearly all of Keenum's decisions displayed a deep-rooted trust in his receivers' ability to win when called upon; it mirrored an ethos that has come to define these Vikings.
*With Minnesota's season hanging in the balance, it was only fitting that Keenum would give his guys one final opportunity. *
It was euphoria for a head coach who had long waited for this chance, a receiver who had slipped to the fifth round of the draft, and a quarterback who had been waived twice and mocked as recently as a year ago.
Minnesota's defense is 'most complete unit' in the NFL
For anyone watching the Vikings-Saints matchup on Sunday, there are several takeaways – positive and negative – that can be gleaned by the game that ended in a miraculous fashion.
Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com reflected on the Divisional game and made three observations. Of the two that were Vikings-specific, he first highlighted, of course, the final play. But he then emphasized the Vikings defense, pointing out that it was the dynamic unit that helped Minnesota off to an early start. Bergman wrote:
*The game's most complete unit resides in Minneapolis. Long overlooked for a variety of reasons – Keenum at QB, few household names, defense-first team – the Vikings held on in part due to an amazing first-half performance from their All-Pro defense. With Pro Bowlers and playmakers at every level, Minnesota frustrated Brees and Co. from the get-go, creating mismatches and disrupting one of the league's more dynamic attacks. *
Bergman pointed out Andrew Sendejo's interception of a deep Brees throw and a tipped pass by Everson Griffen that was then intercepted by Anthony Barr.
Rivaled only by Jacksonville's defense and New England's offense, there is no better unit remaining – no group that plays more complementary, total football – in the postseason than the Vikings defense.
Millie Wall gets second major surprise in advance of 100th birthday
Last week, 99-year-old Millie Wall received a surprise from the Vikings when her beloved team invited her as their guest to the Saints game.
Wall was in attendance to see the Vikings incredible finish to the advance to the NFC Championship game in Philadelphia next week. And while that probably would have been plenty for the lifelong fan, the surprises didn't stop there.
Wall and her granddaughter, Ashley, were paid a visit in the stands during the fourth quarter from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. ESPN's Michele Steele wrote:
Goodell made the experience a little extra memorable for both Millie and her granddaughter.
*The NFL commissioner gifted Millie with tickets to what could be another Vikings postseason game – and it'll be a big one: the Super Bowl. *
The Vikings will need to win one more game to get to Super Bowl LII, which will kick off at U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 4. And you can bet Millie will have just as much confidence next weekend as she did during Sunday's game against New Orleans.
"[She] continued to have hope," Ashley Wall told Steele. "She'd say, 'We're going to get this. We just need an interception. We're going to win this.' Hearing her be so hopeful, not a lot of Vikings fans can say that."