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5 Takeaways: Underdog Vikings Get 1st OT Playoff Win in Franchise History

NEW ORLEANS — Ignore what the pundits said, the Vikings are moving on.

Minnesota shocked the football world Sunday afternoon, as the Vikings earned a 26-20 overtime win against the Saints in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

The Vikings secured their first overtime playoff win in franchise history, and it came in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome of all places — a deafening and raucous venue known for giving the Saints a notable homefield advantage.

The Vikings also secured their first road playoff win since Jan. 9, 2005, which occurred at Lambeau Field against the Packers.

Minnesota will now play at top-seeded San Francisco on Saturday. Kickoff is at 3:35 p.m. (CT).

The Vikings also completed a sixth-seed sweep, as the Titans (AFC's No. 6 seed) beat the Patriots on Saturday.

The No. 6 seeds have both now won in the Wild Card round in back-to-back seasons. It has now happened seven times since the 2005 season.

View postgame celebration images that followed the Vikings win over the Saints.

Here are four more takeaways from Sunday:

1. Vikings dominate on 3rd downs

The Vikings were clutch on the most important down of the game Sunday against the Saints.

Minnesota converted 10-of-18 tries (56 percent) on third downs, including two in overtime. Kyle Rudolph's game-winning touchdown catch from Kirk Cousins came on third-and-goal from the Saints 4-yard line.

Defensively, the Vikings clamped down and didn't allowed Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his offense to stay on the field.

New Orleans was just 4-of-11 on third downs (36 percent), as the Vikings routinely hassled Brees and his teammates.

Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter split a first-quarter sack on Brees, and Anthony Harris also picked off Brees on that down.

2. Subduing the Saints stars | By Lindsey Young

The Vikings were quite familiar with the Saints explosive offense and set out to keep it contained.

Minnesota did just that on Sunday, not allowing the big names to gouge too deeply.

Alvin Kamara, who averaged 4.7 yards per rush throughout the regular season, was held to just 21 yards on seven carries (3.0 yards per attempt). The running back did add 34 receiving yards on eight catches and scored a 4-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Latavius Murray had 21 rushing yards on five attempts.

The Vikings were without cornerbacks Mike Hughes and Mackensie Alexander while facing wide receiver Michael Thomas, who this season set the NFL receptions record with 149 and totaled 1,725 yards. On Sunday, he was held to seven catches for 70 yards (a long of 20) and did not get into the end zone.

Taysom Hill, the pocket-knife threat who plays multiple positions, was New Orleans' leading rusher with 50 yards on four carries. He also completed a 50-yard pass to Deonte Harris and caught a 20-yard touchdown.

View game action images as the Vikings take on the Saints in the Wild Card matchup.

3. Success from special teams, too | By Lindsey Young

Griffen said after the game that winning as a team made it that much sweeter.

Minnesota played complementary football throughout the afternoon, including its special teams units. Dan Bailey made both field goal attempts of 43 and 21 yards, respectively, and punter Britton Colquitt averaged 49.7 yards (39.0 net) per boot. He dropped one inside the 20 and had one touchback.

Marcus Sherels, whom the Vikings just re-signed on Friday, averaged 8.5 yards on two punt returns and had three fair catches.

The Vikings knew they would have their hands full with rookie returner specialist Deonte Harris, who was voted to the Pro Bowl and garnered All-Pro honors. They covered the speedster relatively well on the day but did allow one 54-yard kickoff return just before halftime.

The return put New Orleans in positive field position, but Wil Lutz missed a 43-yard field goal wide right, so the miscue didn't cost Minnesota any points. On the rest of the afternoon, Harris averaged 11 yards on four punt returns. Skewed by the long run-back, his kickoff return stats were 133 yards on four returns.

4. Vikings played a cleaner game | By Craig Peters

The Saints set an NFL record for fewest turnovers in a regular season by only committing eight giveaways in all of 2019. The calendar flip and postseason was less kind to a New Orleans that was plus-15 in turnover margin on the year.

In addition to the interception thrown by Brees, the Vikings also recovered a fumble that Hunter forced after the Saints had driven into the red zone with less than five minutes in regulation.

"It's the playoffs. It's do-or-die. We're not trying to make mistakes," Hunter said. "We're trying to go out there and end up with a win because that's the only stat that matters."

Minnesota lost a fumble by Adam Thielen early, but the defense picked him up by holding the Saints to a short field goal.

The Vikings were flagged just four times on the day for a total of 26 yards. The Saints were flagged six times, resulting in 52 yards getting marked off.

Lastly, the Vikings won time of possession 36:56 to 27:24, which is skewed by being the only team to possess the ball in overtime. Minnesota's ability to sustain some drives helped keep New Orleans from finding its groove for much of the day.

Fact: the NFL's all-time leader in passing touchdowns and yards can't beat you if the Saints don't have the ball.

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