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The Minnesota Vikings Authentic Preston Brown Jersey , after watching their late-third-quarter 17-point lead vanish at the hands of the indefatigable Drew Brees, went back in front of the New Orleans Saints on a field goal with 1:29 left.
Trailing by two with that much time? That was no trouble for Brees, who moved the Saints in position for the responding field goal with 25 seconds remaining.
The problem was they left just enough space for Case Keenum and the Vikings to answer with one of the NFL’s all-time last-play stunners.
Keenum completed his last-ditch heave near the sideline Sunday on the game’s final play to Stefon Diggs, who slithered away from the Saints for a 61-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 29-24 victory and a spot in the NFC championship game at Philadelphia.
”I don’t know what the percentage was,” Keenum said, ”but just try to give the guy a chance.”
The play the Vikings ran, believe it or not, is called ”Seven Heaven.” Kyle Rudolph, Jarius Wright and Diggs all ran sideline routes from the right of the formation, with Diggs the deepest with his break coming at about 25 yards.
This wasn’t quite as improbable of a play as Franco Harris on the Immaculate Reception for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1972 playoffs , which was also in the divisional round, but these Vikings are on some kind of special path.
The Vikings were out of timeouts and nearly out of options when Keenum took the snap with 10 seconds left and dropped back from his 39-yard line. He lofted a throw to Diggs, who jumped in front of Marcus Williams before the Saints rookie whiffed on his awkward attempt to cut underneath Diggs for a tackle.
Nobody was behind him in the secondary, as Diggs knew before he pivoted to keep his balance, keep his feet in bounds and keep running across the goal line.
”I had a pretty good view of it Authentic Chad Thomas Jersey ,” Rudolph said. ”I couldn’t believe it. Things just don’t work out that way.”
Particularly for the Vikings, whose previous victory in the playoffs had been after the 2009 season at home against Dallas in the divisional round. They lost in overtime the following week in the NFC championship game that year at New Orleans, one of the many late collapses in team lore that have conditioned Minnesotans to brace for the worst. So while only defensive end Brian Robison is still around from that painful loss to the Saints, this thriller at least served as a leveler of sorts for a fan base accustomed to being on the other side.
”It’s a turning point for everybody,” Diggs said. ”The majority of people doubt us. They don’t think it’s going to happen, especially because of history. People have a way of saying history repeats itself. I guess this is not one of those cases.”
Now the Vikings can become the first team to play in a Super Bowl on their home turf, if they beat the Eagles. Instead of the usual win-or-go-home stakes, they’re in a win-and-go-home situation.
”It would’ve been nice to be home, but I feel like if we take care of business the way we’re supposed to we’ll have another chance to see our fans,” Diggs said.
Here are some other key developments during the game:
Brees will turn 39 on Monday, a celebration that’s sure to be muted so soon after this crushing loss. After finishing 7-9 in four of the previous five seasons, the Saints were one of the NFL’s biggest breakout stories in 2017 with an energized and revamped defense and the potent running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. But how long will Brees, whose contract is expiring, want to stick around with a Super Bowl ring already in hand?
”I’m more toward the end of my career than I am at the beginning, I know that Youth Tyquan Lewis Jersey ,” Brees said. ”That’s all I’ll divulge.”
Brees finished 25 for 40 for 294 yards and three touchdowns, all in the final 16:16 of the game, but his performance was tainted a bit by two costly interceptions before halftime. One came on a leaping grab by safety Andrew Sendejo that set up a touchdown drive for the Vikings in the second quarter. The other came off a tip by Everson Griffen at the line that sent the ball fluttering into Anthony Barr’s arms at the Minnesota 10-yard line to thwart the next possession.
Ted Ginn had broken open on a post pattern on the first one, a first-and-10 play from the New Orleans 15, and Brees saw an opportunity.
”I just forced it. There was no reason to do that,” Brees said.
FORBATH FINISHES STRONG
Kai Forbath missed a 49-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds of the first half, but he was good from the same distance in the fourth quarter and again from 53 yards to put the Vikings up 23-21 with 89 seconds to go. That gave him three makes against the team that cut him right before the 2016 season in favor of Wil Lutz, whose 43-yard kick gave the Saints the lead before the Keenum-to-Diggs stunner.
”I was ready to kick another one,” Forbath said, ”but what an incredible way to win.”
WOE FOR WILLIAMS
Williams was sobbing in front of his cubicle in the locker room afterward, his face buried in a folded white towel, before composing himself for a stand-up performance in front of the assembled press.
”I’m going to take it upon myself,” Williams said, ”to make sure nothing like this happens again to me.”
Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch might want to consider giving Jose Altuve more days off.
A night after he was out of the starting lineup for the first time all season, the 2017 American League MVP homered twice Youth Dante Pettis Jersey , including the last of three straight by the Astros in the sixth inning, to lift Houston to a 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night.
Altuve, who pinch-hit in the ninth inning on Tuesday night, said getting a little break gave him a chance to regroup.
”It felt good. It’s always good to sit down and think about how you feel,” he said. ”And I came back strong today.”
The game was tied in the bottom of the sixth when George Springer’s 15th homer this season made it 2-1. Two pitches later Alex Bregman sent an 87 mph slider from Rays’ starter Nathan Eovaldi (1-3) into the seats in left field for his 11th home run.
But the Astros weren’t done yet, as Altuve put one on the train tracks atop left field for the second time on Wednesday night to push the lead to 4-1. It was the first time the Astros had hit three home runs in a row since May 2, 2008 when Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee did it against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Altuve got a little amped up after seeing the balls by Springer and Bregman leave the yard, and once he got in a hitter’s count he was looking for a ball to drive.
”There was a lot going on in that inning and I got a little excited,” he said.
It was a welcome display of power for a team which managed just five singles in a 2-1 loss to the Rays on Tuesday night that snapped Houston’s 12-game winning streak. Wednesday night’s win made the Astros the first team to reach 50 victories this season.
”It was a pretty electrifying crowd after three home runs one after another after another,” manager A.J. Hinch said. ”Obviously, it was a huge inning for us. What energy that got put back into the building and also our team. Pretty impressive.”
Houston starter Charlie Morton (9-1) allowed just two hits and one unearned run in six innings for the win.
Eovaldi, who grew up in suburban Houston, entered the game 1-0 with a 2.52 ERA in four career starts against the Astros. But he allowed seven hits and four runs in six innings for his third straight loss.
”It’s just a matter of time before that offense gets you,” manager Kevin Cash said. ”He was efficient Dave Robinson Jersey , they made some adjustments, but it was a lot of power and by that third time through, it kind of caught up. It’s just a very talented offense.”
Jake Bauers doubled with two outs in the first inning before Morton walked Wilson Ramos and plunked Joey Wendle to load the bases. But he escaped the jam when left fielder Tony Kemp made a diving catch on a ball hit by Willy Adames to end the inning.
”That’s probably the highlight of the game defensively for us just because a lot of things can happen there,” Hinch said. ”We’re playing a little bit deep, it looked like he got a little bit of a late start and then comes in with an acrobatic catch.”
Mallex Smith singled with one out in the fourth and scored when Carlos Gomez grounded out and first baseman Yuli Gurriel badly overthrew first base for an error to make it 1-0.
Altuve tied it up with his first home run of the night with one out in the fourth. It was the first multi-homer game in the regular season since July 24, 2016 for Altuve, who hit a career-best three in Game 1 of the ALDS against Boston last season.
The Astros added a run on an RBI single by Kemp with one out in the seventh.
Astros: Hinch said RHP Joe Smith (right elbow inflammation) was feeling a lot better on Wednesday and is likely to throw off the mound either this weekend or early next week.
Rays: Manager Kevin Cash said INF Daniel Robertson (left hamstring strain) is doing well and should come off the disabled list on Friday.
Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermaier went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts after going 0 for 5 on Wednesday night in his first game back after missing more than two months following thumb surgery. His slump is a continuation of the struggles he had before the injury and he’s hitting just .135 in 14 games this season.
”Unfortunately, K.K. just got off to a rough start and takes a month or two months off,” Cash said. ”The numbers are going to be ugly for a little while, but I’m very confident he’ll get going.”
Rays: Tampa Bay is off on Thursday before beginning a three-game series with the New York Yankees on Friday. They have yet to announce their pitching rotation for that series.
Astros: Houston also has a day off on Thursday before hosting Kansas City in the opener of a three-game series on Friday. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (4-8, 4.15 ERA), who got his first win since May 13 in his last start, will oppose Royals‘ lefty Danny Duffy.