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Minneapolis Miracle

I’m opening up the show with just one question: how was your weekend? I’m not even going to drop that overdone line from Gladiator on you, because I know the answer. The answer is: yes.

Four NFL playoff games, three of them decided by a total of 13 points. The only dud in the bunch was New England doing what New England does at home in the playoffs, wrecking an opponent. Aside from that, you had Atlanta at Philly coming down to the Falcons final play in the end zone. You had Jacksonville marching into Pittsburgh, punching the Steelers in the mouth, and talking noise about it. And then you had this:

Ouch. That’s brutal. And depressing.

Call it the Minneapolis Miracle, the Skol Mary, the Hail Millie, the Whiff Six, call it whatever you want, I still have no idea how it happened. The Vikings had lost that game. Drew Brees had just put on a clinic, picking apart a nasty Minnesota defense to drive 50 yards and set up the game-winning Will Lutz field goal, making it 24-23 Saints. Minnesota’s dream of hosting the Super Bowl was over. And the dream of a Brady-Brees Super Bowl was still alive. All that was left was for the Vikings to call a few plays, the clock to expire and the Saints the celebrate. And for Viking fans to yet again have their hearts ripped out on national television.

Because that’s how it always goes for the Vikings in these situations. Get close enough and then get punked. Wide left, Brett Favre and the why would you ponder passing, wide left. Get a 17-point lead, look like you’re about to advance and then find a way to blow it.

This had been a really nice year for the Vikings – overcame injuries to Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook, proved they were tough as hell, got the season of a lifetime from Case Keenum, but it was all about to go up in flames… Like it always does for the Vikes and their fans.

And the Vikings came out for the final drive and played according to type, getting flagged for a false start before the final drive even began. Then Case Keenum found Stefon Diggs for 19 yards and a first down, but the Vikings had to use their final timeout. That completion was followed by two incompletions and then, with 10 seconds left, and the ball on the Vikings 39. Longtime Viking Bryan Robison told CBS: “In that situation, it’s hard to have hope.”

And then this happened:

I can see that play a thousand more times and I’ll never get tired of seeing it. And yes, Saints safety Marcus Williams, is going to see that play in his head a million times more than anyone else. Because if he just wraps up on Diggs, instead of diving under him for no apparent reason, the ball game’s over and the Saints are going to Philly. But the rookie, who had a great season, and a very good game, including a third quarter interception, is going to be on Vikings highlights, and coaching instructional videos, for eternity. Because Williams picked a terrible time to do what you’re never supposed to do in football.

Kill him all you want, and if you are on social, it speaks not to his horrible play but to your horrible life….as always… just know you’re never going to be harder on Williams than Williams is on himself. He was gutted after the game. He knows he screwed up and that will haunt him forever.

But this isn’t about Williams. This is about Case Keenum, the guy nobody wanted, becoming an instant legend. It’s about Keenum saying “we got this in the huddle.” We got this?!? We’re 61 yards from the end zone with no time outs and this guy is saying we got this? Joe Montana pointing out John Candy in the stands can’t believe how clutch that is. And then he had the brass to break the huddle saying, “I’m going to give somebody a chance.”

It’s about Mike Zimmer, a head coach who’d waited for a long time to get his shot, a man who’s been through tragedy and challenges.

And it’s about Stefon Diggs, who was passed up by every team in the draft repeatedly, becoming a legend of his own with the catch, the landing, the run, and the helmet toss. The plan was for him to catch it and then step out of bounds to hopefully set up a field goal. But Diggs had a different plan: “I took a picture before I turned around to catch the ball. There was only one guy there.”

And that guy was Williams, who dove under him. And then there was nobody left. Nothing but green turf and history. And more than 66,000 screaming fans.

How does it feel to do something like that? Just ask Diggs: “Damn that bleep felt good.”

He was doing interviews, standing on the bench posing for photos, my man wasn’t looking to go anywhere after that touchdown and I don’t blame him. I’d have slept on that field if that was me. And I’m guessing 66,000 Vikings fans would’ve happily slept in their seats last night if they could, just to enjoy that moment a little longer. Because that was one for the ages. Knowing Viking fans and knowing their history, they’re not going to start counting their chickens before they hatch. But all that stands between them and now that dream of playing at home, in the Super Bowl, is Nick Foles.

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