A play that will live forever in Vikings lore has been voted on as one of the top plays in league history.
The “Minneapolis Miracle” was unveiled Friday night on NFL Network as the ninth-greatest play that NFL fans have ever seen. The NFL 100 Greatest Plays finished its countdown, going from 50 to 1 a week after five Vikings moments were listed from 51-100. It is part of an ongoing series that was created for the NFL’s 100th season.
Vikings fans remember the dramatic ending well. Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs hauled in a pass from Case Keenum near the home sideline before sprinting into the end zone for a 61-yard touchdown to give Minnesota a 29-24 win over New Orleans in the Divisional Round.
“Are you kidding me? I couldn’t believe it,” Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen said on the show. “I was stuck in place because I couldn’t believe that actually happened.”
NFL Network revealed the top 50 plays in NFL history Friday night over a two-hour time period. Viewers had to wait until the second hour to relive the magic from the night of Jan. 14, 2018.
The Vikings trailed 24-23 with 10 seconds left on the clock as the offense held the ball at Minnesota’s 39-yard line.
A handful of those involved in the game recalled their emotions before the play.
“At that moment we’re thinking, ‘Man, season over.’ Minnesota usually doesn’t get miracles,” said Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
Erin Andrews, the FOX sideline reporter for the game, added: “This puppy looked wrapped up.”
Then Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur (now the Giants Head Coach) said: “It was very quiet. It was like crickets.”
On the other sideline, Saints running back Alvin Kamara was confident.
“I’m thinking, ‘We’re good. Next round.’ I’m getting ready to look up the weather in Philly,” Kamara said.
Shurmur sent in the play call — Buffalo Right Key Left Seven Heaven — as Thielen recalled the message Keenum relayed in the huddle.
“We thought we could get into field goal range,” Thielen said. “Before the play started, Case said, ‘Hey, I’m going to give someone a chance to be ready.’ ”
Keenum dropped back and fired a pass to the right sideline, where Diggs leapt and caught it at the New Orleans 34-yard line.
Naturally, everybody in the vicinity yelled for No. 14 to get out of bounds, which would have set up a chance at a game-winning field goal with a few ticks left.
“When the ball is in the air, I’m thinking, ‘Oh, we got this. We’re going to get in field goal range,” Thielen said.
Added tight end Kyle Rudolph: “I was on that side of the field. I remember seeing him catch it and immediately thinking, ‘Get out of bounds.’ ”
Said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer: “I was real close to him at the time. I was saying, ‘Get out of bounds, get out of bounds.’ But I was excited that he did what he did.”
Diggs remarkably was untouched by Marcus Williams’ tackle attempt. He spun and kept his balance by using his left hand.
“Diggs goes up, catches it and lands on his feet somehow,” Thielen said.
Then it was nothing but green turf in front of him as Diggs raced into the end zone to send the Vikings to the NFC title game and cap off one of the most miraculous plays in NFL history.
“The Minneapolis Miracle, to me, is one of the greatest plays,” said comedian Nick Swardson, a noted Vikings fan. “I’m obviously biased, but it’s just that we don’t ever have stuff like this … it’s just few and far between.”
In the locker room after the game, Keenum succinctly summed up everyone’s emotions.
“Is this real life?” Keenum wondered aloud. “Is this real life?
The NFL 100 Greatest series will air Weeks 2-11 with two, one-hour episodes airing back-to-back each Friday night and will count down the bests across five categories: Plays (Sept. 13 & Sept. 20), Games (Sept. 27 & Oct. 4), Characters (Oct. 11 & Oct. 18), Game-Changers (Oct. 25 & Nov. 1) and Teams (Nov. 8 & Nov. 15).
The NFL and the Associated Press (AP) came together to select the 100 greatest in the five categories, comprising an 80-person blue-ribbon panel. In addition to the rankings, NFL Films conducted more than 400 interviews with celebrities, current NFL stars and Legends.