Sunday’s NFC Divisional Playoff game was one for the ages… literally. Millie Wall, who turns 100 on the 4th of July, was gifted a pair of tickets by the Minnesota Vikings, a team she has watched and agonized over for the 57 years of the franchise’s existence.
Wall, who had never seen a playoff game in person, celebrated the Vikings miraculous come from behind victory over the New Orleans Saints with her granddaughter and if all goes according to plan she will be seated at another Vikings postseason game with Super Bowl tickets, compliments of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Backup quarterback Case Keenum, who picked up the pieces after starter Sam Bradford went down for the count in the season opener, led one of the most dramatic drives of his short-lived career in the Vikings shocking 29-24 defeat of the Saints.
Keenum kept his cool in the four lead changing moments in the final three minutes, compiling a total of 318 total passing yards.
With 10 clicks left on the clock, the LA Rams cast-off dropped back and launched a last ditch pass toward a crowded field that landed into the clutch hands of wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who eluded an ill-fated tackle attempt by cornerback Marcus Williams. The catch may not have been Dwight Clark caliber, but it was a 61-yard walk-off touchdown that will be talked about until the end of time.
After Saints place-kicker Wil Lutz legged a 43-yard field goal to regain a one-point lead, it seemed that the Vikings, who led by 17 late in the 3rd quarter, would fall victim to New Orleans in the same heartbreaking fashion as their NFC Championship loss in the Big Easy during the 2009 season.
Drew Brees fought a valiant up hill battle, 24 seconds shy of winning the war. The future Hall of Famer, who only passed for three yards in the 1st quarter, ended his disappointing day 25/40 for 294 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of pick-offs.
New Orleans had a golden opportunity to send Minnesota packing on a trick play in the 4th quarter. On 3rd and 1, Brees tossed to wide receiver Willie Snead, a former high school quarterback, who overshot a deep pass to wide-open running back Alvin Kamara, who was destined for the end zone.
A plethora of Saints penalties gave the Vikings second chances that they made good on, in light of a couple of questionable calls. Cornerback Ken Crawley was punished for back-to-back pass interference totaling 54 yards, the latter of which he was clearly held by Diggs, resulting in a field goal.
Looking ahead to the NFC team who will take the Super Bowl plunge my bet is the Vikings despite the Eagles being the No. 1 seed. Minnesota’s defense kept a very capable New Orleans offense that averaged 28 points per game during the regular season, to zero first half points. And I think Keenum has the upper hand on Nick Foles because of his longer playing time this season, and his better supporting cast.
Also my sentimental self would enjoy watching 99 year-old Millie Wall witness the historical NFL moment of a team playing on their home turf for the first time in a Super Bowl game.