The Minneapolis Miracle

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In the 2018 NFC divisional playoff pitting the Minnesota Vikings versus the New Orleans Saints, an iconic play unfolded in the last few seconds of the game, producing one of the most dramatic endings to an NFL game in years. The game, played on January 14, 2018 at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis saw the Vikings score a last minute touchdown to win 29-24 and book an NFC Championship game with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Saints had taken the lead with 25 seconds left through a Wil Lutz field goal, but from the next kickoff, Minnesota quarterback Keenum Case made a pass to Stefon Diggs on the Saints’ 34 yard line and unfettered, Diggs made for the end zone making a game-stealing touchdown just as the clock expired.

Buildup and Passage of the Play

In the first half, Minnesota raced to a 17-0 lead thanks to two touchdowns and a field the second half, the Saints got their act together and started a fierce rally. They registered their first touchdown with 1.18 remaining in the third quarter and they added another early in the fourth quarter to reduce the deficit to three points. The Vikings scored a field goal to extend their lead to 20-14.

However, the Saints led for the first time in the game through an Alvin Kamara touchdown with three minutes to go in the game. The Vikings then stole back the lead thanks to another field goal by Forbath. With about one and a half minutes to go in the game, Minnesota were leading 23-21. Within the next one minute, Brees has led the Saints down the field, and Wil Lutz made a field goal from 43 yards out, putting New Orleans on a 24-23 lead. A false start by the Vikings chopped off a valuable 15 seconds off the clock.

With just 10 seconds left, the Saints’ lead seemed unassailable, until it was not. After a brief passage of play that seemed futile for the Vikings, Keenum was in possession from the third and-10. He then threw the ball towards Digg at the Saints’ 34-yard line where the latter was sandwiched by Marcus Williams and Ken Crawley.

As Diggs went to catch the ball, Williams charged forward in an attempt to tackle him, but instead Williams missed comically and hit cornerback Ken Crawley instead. Diggs was able to make the catch and stay inbound, then sprinted for the end zone with no defense to impede him. He reach the end zone just as the clock expired giving the Vikings a 31-23 victory.

The players, many of whom had already left for the locker rooms assuming the game was over had to reassemble on the field for the compulsory conversion attempt. Keenum knelt on the conversion try to end the game.

The game was all the rage in sports media and soon, the term “Minneapolis Miracle,” which had first been used by commentator Paul Allen became the official term for the play. The Vikings trademarked the phrase and another of its variations “Minnesota Miracle,” intending to use it on club merchandise.