EDEN PRARIE, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings did not want to talk too much about the Eagles early Monday afternoon and you really could not blame them. Their season was 10 seconds from the brink 17 hours earlier.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees had drawn the chalk line around the Vikings, leading the Saints back from a 17-0 halftime deficit and leaving Case Keenum and Minnesota just 25 seconds and one timeout to go at least 35 yards to get into long field-goal range.
And then the Minneapolis Miracle occurred. Keenum floated a pass to Stefon Diggs, who leaped for the catch at the 34-yard line before avoiding a hideous tackle attempt by rookie safety Marcus Williams and sprinting into the end zone as time expired.
Walk-off wins that move a team within one win of a Super Bowl that is going to be played on its home field do not happen every day, so forgive the Vikings if they wanted to freeze the moment a little longer in a land where everything else is frozen at this time of year anyway. There was a high of five degrees here Monday and there is so much snow on the ground that it appears to be snowing even when it is not.
No matter, it was happy Monday in Minny. High five for the high of five, please.
Almost all of the questions directed at the Vikings players after a team meeting and light workout at their Winter Park practice facility were about Diggs’ season-saving touchdown.
“It was a crazy feeling, man,” said Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks, the younger brother of Eagles linebacker Mychal. “I can’t explain it. People were sending me social media stuff of the play from all these different angles.”
Kendricks’ favorite angle was his own.
“I was right there,” he said. “A lot of chaos and a lot of jumping around. We are obviously happy, but we know how close we came to it being over, so now we’re a little more motivated to get on our PDQs and get things right.”
Mike Zimmer, while still elated, was able to focus on things other than Diggs’ touchdown. The Vikings head coach needed both his hands to count the number of mistakes his team made in the second half, allowing the Saints to recover from their 17-point halftime deficit to take the lead.
“We made some mistakes in the second half,” Zimmer said. “We threw a bad interception. We had a punt blocked. We gave them short fields twice. We took a sack in field-goal range on third down, which knocked us out of field-goal range. We made a couple of mistakes defensively in the red zone, so there were quite a few things we need to clean up from this ball game. But we have a bunch of fighters on this team and they’ve been resilient all year long, so I expect them to continue to be that way.”
Zimmer did feel the need to remind his players that it’s time to focus on the Eagles, a team that beat the Vikings, 21-10, last season at Lincoln Financial Field despite compiling only 239 yards on offense. Carson Wentz was the quarterback for the Eagles in that game and Sam Bradford was under center for the Vikings. It will be Keenum vs. Nick Foles on Sunday with Bradford and Wentz on the sideline.
“The only thing I remember about that game is we lost,” Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes said.
Adam Thielen, the Vikings’ leading receiver, remembered more.
“It was a tough day for the offense,” Thielen said. “We couldn’t get anything rolling. They’re a really tough defense and we found that out last year. And they’re pretty much the same defense this year if not better. So we’re going to have our work cut out for us and that’s why we have to get over this last game and move on.”
The Vikings had just 282 yards of offense and matched the four turnovers by the Eagles.
“I think guys came in here [Monday] ready to work and tried to get over [Sunday’s miracle] as quickly as possible,” Thielen said. “I think it took a little bit longer [Sunday], but today guys are ready. We know how tough this game is going to be for us.”