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The Minnesota Vikings Authentic D.J. Fluker 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,” 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:

NOT-SO-HAPPY BIRTHDAY

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 Authentic Dontae Johnson Jersey ,” Brees said. ”That’s all I’ll divulge.”

PICKED OFF

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.”



Luke Weaver seemed to regain his old form. It just took a while.

He settled in after a shaky first inning to win for the first time in eight starts and Jose Martinez hit a three-run homer to pace the St. Louis Cardinals to an 8-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.

Weaver (4-6) allowed two runs, both in the first, on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out a season-high nine and walked two for his first victory since May 11.

”I think it means a lot for him to right the ship,” Matheny said. ”The first inning, you could tell. It was once again, like, `Here we go.’ Got into the second, that was better. Gave up a walk and at that point he turned it around.”

Martinez’s 11th homer capped a five-run fourth when St. Louis erased a 2-1 deficit. Dexter Fowler, who entered hitting .163, doubled twice and scored twice, and Harrison Bader reached four times, scoring twice for the Cardinals, who won the final two games of the series to salvage a split.

Fowler snapped an 0-for13 streak with a double to open the fourth and Bader walked. Both runners advanced on Kelton Wong’s fly out to right. After Weaver struck out, Matt Carpenter lined a two-run single to center to put the Cards up 3-2.

Jhoulys Chacin (6-3) issued his fifth walk to Greg Garcia and Martinez then drove an 0-2 pitch over the wall in center to make it 6-2.

”That pitch ran into my bat 100 percent,” Martinez said. ”He actually caught me off-guard, got my off my timing. I just reacted to the ball. I got the barrel 100 percent. It was good for me that it actually happened like that. It was a good hit for us in that inning.”

The Cardinals extended it to 8-2 in the fifth. Fowler again led off with a double and Bader followed with an RBI single. Wong singled Bader to third and Weaver laid down an RBI sacrifice bunt.

Chacin allowed a season-high eight runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking five. Chacin dropped to 0-7 with a 6.90 ERA in nine career appearances Authentic Ryan Jensen Jersey , including eight starts, against the Cardinals.

”When you walk five guys in four innings, you can’t have much of a good game,” Chacin said. ”Just trying to battle from the first inning. I got runners on base every inning. Just battling with control with my pitches. You pay for it.”

The Cardinals pushed across a run in the first when Carpenter walked, Garcia doubled and Marcell Ozuna lofted a one-out sacrifice fly to the wall in right-center.

Milwaukee answered with two runs in the bottom half. Christian Yelich tied it with his 10th home run, a one-out solo shot into the second deck in left. Ryan Braun followed with a double to right and scored on Hernan Perez’s two-out single. Jonathan Villar doubled Perez to third, but Weaver escaped by retiring Erik Kratz on a hard-hit liner to right.

”Being able to get out of that inning with just two runs, it’s obviously not ideal, but the way we’ve kind of been swinging and getting hot, I knew we were going to score some runs,” Weaver said. ”It was just about putting up zeroes from there.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cards: OF Tommy Pham was not in the lineup after feeling ill before the game. ”He is just under the weather,” manager Mike Matheny said. ”It has been going through our clubhouse. Different guys are passing it around. Unfortunately when you spend this much time together, is this kind of space, on flights, it is going to run its course.”

Brewers: 3B Travis Shaw left in the third inning after re-aggravating his sore right wrist on the second swing of his at-bat. The extent of the injury was not known, Counsell said. . RHP Matt Albers (10-day DL, right shoulder discomfort), could start a throwing program next week, but his return is still a ways off. ”I think we’re looking post-All Star break for Matt,” Counsell said. . IF Nick Franklin (10-day DL, right quad strain) is in Arizona and still experience soreness. ”He’s not over the injury,” Counsell said. . IF Tyler Saladino (10-day DL, left ankle sprain) continues to progress. ”We’re closing in on looking at setting a date to send him out on rehab.”

UP NEXT

Cards: RHP John Gant (1-2, 4.39) opens the three-game series at home against Cleveland on Monday. Gant, filling in for injured Michael Wacha, was sent down to Triple-A Memphis on May 31 and recalled on Thursday.

Brewers: After an off-day Monday, rookie RHP Freddy Peralta (2-0, 2.30) makes his fourth start of the season to open a two-game series at home against Kansas City. Opponents are batting just .113 against him.


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