The sixth seed Minnesota Vikings pulled off the unthinkable as they stunned the third seed New Orleans Saints in the 2019 wild-card round! It was non-stop action from the fourth quarter on as the Saints would crawl back from a 20 - 10 deficit only to lose in overtime as Kirk Cousins threw a 4-yard touchdown to Kyle Rudolph in overtime. Perhaps, the Saints would have won in regulation if Wil Lutz didn't miss a 47-yard field goal before halftime or Drew Brees didn’t fumble in the red zone with under five minutes left. With this improbable victory, the Vikings quest for winning their first Super Bowl continues as they will face the red hot 13 - 3 San Francisco 49ers next week.
This game would begin with a bizarre Vikings fumble on the second play of the game as Adam Thielen was hit in the arm by Janoris Jenkins and it was recovered by Vonn Bell. Thielen must have had playoff jitters as he did not fumble once in the regular season. On third-and-goal on the Minnesota 4- yard line, Drew Brees was sacked by Everson Griffen and Darnell Hunter causing Lutz to kick a 29-yard field goal. The Vikings went on a long 11 play 50-yard drive that ended in a 43-yard field goal by Dan Bailey to tie the game at 3. Before both offenses lit up the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, there were four straight punts on four straight drives. The Saints gave the home crowd exactly what they were waiting for as their 3rd string quarterback, Taysom Hill threw a 50-yard bomb to Deonte Harris, the drive would end with a 4-yard touchdown run by Alvin Kamara. Minnesota would fight back as another long 13 play drive ended in a 21-yard chip shot by Bailey. The Saints had the ball and many fans thought they would have just taken it to the 2-minute warning, instead, Brees feeling pressure threw an off balance throw to his star receiver, Michael Thomas that was intercepted by Anthony Harris who returned it for 30-yards. The Vikings would capitalize on the questionable play with a 5-yard rushing touchdown by Dalvin Cook. If you thought the Saints were done in the final 24 seconds of the first half, you would be mistaken as Harris returned the kickoff for 64-yards, however Lutz missed a 43-yard field goal keeping it 13 - 10 Vikings at halftime.
The second half would begin slow as three straight drives ended in punts but the Vikings would not be denied as Cook scored his second touchdown making it a two-possession game. The Saints got the ball back for the first drive of the fourth quarter, it was exactly what you wanted if you are a fan of the home team as their beloved Brees hit Hill from 20-yards out making it 20 - 17. After the Vikings punted, the Saints would march down the field right into the red zone when Hunter popped the ball out of Brees hands which was recovered by Jalyn Holmes on the Minnesota 36 with under 5 minutes left in the game. The Saints defense would allow nothing as they recovered two fumbles on back-to-back plays but both were called back due to the runner being down by contact. Brees would hit Jared Cook for 14-yards putting the Saints well inside field goal range to set up Lutz for a thrilling kick from 49-yards out to send the game into overtime. Saints fans feeling this could be their redemption year after their lost in the NFC championship game last year to the Los Angeles Rams.
The Vikings called heads to win the coin flip and with this, they wouldn’t look back as Cousins launched a right on the money throw to Thielen that went for 43-yards to the Saints 2-yard line. On third-and-goal, Kyle Rudolph would catch a 4-yard touchdown that would seal the Saints fate. One would wonder if Lutz didn’t miss the kick before halftime, could it have been a different outcome for the Saints? Even the heroics of Alvin Kamara, Taysom Hill and Cam Jordan were not enough as the Vikings crushed the Super Bowl favorites hopes. As for the Vikings, does this game prove Kirk Cousins can win the big game? He and his team will have a tough challenge next week against the red hot 49ers lead by Jimmy Garoppolo at Levi’s Stadium and could they overcome the roar of the crowd like they did this week? It should be interesting to see how far a top 10 offense and defense team can do the rest of the way.