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Minnesota Miracle of the Vikings: How the hell did that happen?



I woke up on Monday still stunned. Two intense, wireless playoff games in a day, not even 24 hours after two of the most boring postseason games we've seen in a long time, will do that to one person.

But the moment that came to my head was the winning touchdown by Stefon Diggs. I spent most of Monday trying to find out what happened, how it happened. This is what I got.

Here is the configuration for & # 39; seven heavens & # 39; and the Miracle of Minneapolis.

He is third and 10 in the Minnesota 39 with 10 seconds left and the Vikings down 24-23.

All the Vikings really had to do was take the ball enough again for a reasonable field goal attempt, let's say within the Saints' 35 yard line, for a long one. That meant taking him to a receiver, going out of bounds to stop the clock and sending Kai Forbath and the kicking team.

Minnesota has a sad history with winning field goal attempts. But it was the clever play, the play the Vikings were trying when they called the play "the seven heavens," something they have practiced many times before.

A receiver abroad executes seven routes, lowers the field and near the limit. The "sky" part comes from the idea that if the receiver on route seven catches it, good things will happen.

Stefon Diggs was the angel appointed for the heavenly things in that work. He lined up on trips on the right side of the Vikings' offensive lineup, with tight end Kyle Rudolph and wide receiver Jarius Wright.

Rudolph runs a short route down the sideline, and Wright runs a little deeper, but not as far in the field as Diggs. It's your job to find the launch, catch it and get out of bounds, the safest thing in that play.

Wright said that after the game it was not usual for Diggs, the deep man, to get the ball.

"We practice that all the time," he said. "But the tall seven never gets the ball, he was never thrown on that route, so I can remember."

Not this time. With a little help from the Saints' defense, Case Keenum pushed him into the field for the big play. Diggs delivered.

The first question that came to my mind, how did the defense of the Saints allow that to happen?

The Saints' defense was doing exactly what it wanted, and it was a big mistake.

The Saints defense was really good this season, something that has not been true for several years of 7-9ness lately. Along with running back duo Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, that defense is a big reason why the Saints got that far in the first place.

Then it's even more confusing that they did what they did in third and 10 against the Vikings.

This is the defensive lineup that they implemented in that play.

This lineup left them at risk for a deep ball, but that was not what the Vikings were going to do on third down. They needed to get the ball into the field goal field and stop the clock. For the defense, that meant emphasizing the limits, which is exactly what they wanted.

Sean Payton explained it after the game:

"It was an outside zone [defense]we were protecting the sidelines, anything inside and you're in a pretty good position when the game is over. little bit ".

By protecting the limits, the Saints could attack the receiver within limits, keeping the clock running and letting time expire. Five seconds remained on the clock when Diggs caught Keenum's pass. No amount of haste in the world would have given the Vikings enough time to take the team to kick the field and line up for the field goal attempt.

A bigger problem is when they had two linebackers, in the middle of the field and grouped near the line of scrimmage. One of them ends up falling backwards and moving towards the ball, but that does not change the fact that they have two defenders tied in the middle of the field where the Vikings could not afford to throw it and hope to stop. the clock with less than 10 seconds left when they broke it in the first place.

And what the hell does P.J. Williams, No. 26, here? He's on the floor to cover tight end Kyle Rudolph, but he's starting 3 yards from the line of scrimmage. Rudolph does not go more than 5 yards through the field and towards the sideline.

Everything is prepared so that when the safety, Marcus Williams, missed the tackle, there is nothing between Diggs and a touchdown. More on that in little.

Where did the Saints pass?

The pass of the Saints had a very good night, until he did not.

Keenum was fired twice in the game. Cam Jordan did not have a sack, but finished with eight total pressures and two hits in the QB, according to Pro Football Focus. But it was his inability to get to Keenum on the only important play he ate in Jordan after the game.

"As a defender and player of my caliber, I should have been able to eradicate that play all together … If I had been a quicker half a step, I would have been able to get out of the tight end and take on and fully take that play."

Take another look. Jordan is number 94.


An extra half step would have definitely helped, but the offensive tackle does a good job of getting him out of the play. I'm not a rush expert, but I've read enough of Stephen White's Hoss of the Week columns to recognize that Jordan might have used a different set of pass-pass moves, or perhaps a passing game to deflect blockers. .

Note also that they sent four in the hurry of the pass. That's a bit unusual in a situation where a defense is trying to avoid a big play. They could have rushed to three and have an additional man in coverage to help avoid the big play. Did they worry that Keenum, who was very good on his feet, ran out of his pocket and played?

The Saints could really have used those waiting times.

Remember earlier in the fourth quarter when Sean Payton did not challenge one, but two plays that did not challenge? He lost a couple of downtimes due to the effort.

They used the third expiration time before the second down of the Vikings, the play before the big one, to settle down.

So in that fateful third and 10, another would have been useful to line up the defense the way they needed, like putting the linebackers in the right place or discovering how to cover the receivers in the trips on the left side of the field of the offensive.

We have to talk about Williams' tackle attempt.

Williams should not be the scapegoat of the Saints here. Fortunately, this is a time when the Internet does not seem to have irrationally ignited someone because of a legitimate error.

He goes down, lowering his head and directing with his shoulder in an attempt to design Diggs. And I miss him completely.

As we explained after the game, here is some logic. The Saints can not afford a pass interference penalty that would stop the clock and give the Vikings a great place for a game-winning field goal attempt. They had already picked up four PI calls in this game.

He could have played the ball, rising in the air to answer the catch. That would have courted an interference call at precisely the wrong time. He could also have waited for Diggs to take him down and face him within bounds.

The decision he made was not necessarily wrong, but finishing and simply making the tackle would have been better.

Unfortunately for the Saints, Miss Williams defeated cornerback Ken Crawley, who originally covered Jarius Wright, and proved to be the last man in the area with chances to make the inning.

With those two knocked down, he set Diggs up for the big play.

Notice the moment Diggs realizes he is free in the end zone. Dammit.

The objective of this play, as it was written, was to give Keenum someone to throw to the side, and then to get the receiver out of bounds, stopping the clock so the Vikings can try to win the game . Field goal.

And this is where Diggs hesitates, just for a little bit. Momentum should have pushed him out of bounds, but when he goes down, he looks back at the line of scrimmage.


  Divisional Round - New Orleans Saints v. Minnesota Vikings

Photo by Hannah Foslien / Getty Images

Watch in slow motion. Observe what you see there.


Immediately after knocking him down, he sees the Saints defensive: No. 20 is cornerback Ken Crawley, who gets carried away by Marcus Williams' No. 43, unsuccessful tackle attempt, behind him on the ground . It was then that he realized that there was no need to get out of bounds.

The men in front of him are now behind him, lying on the lawn. He turns around, regains his balance and leaves.

Standing up was also quite impressive.

In the process of climbing to catch, land and turn upwards, Diggs loses his balance. He almost falls. Any more wobble, and his knee, at least, would have been on the ground, within limits. That would have effectively done what would-be Saints tacklers could not knock the receiver down to kill the clock and end the game.

And all we had to talk about was a big catch that did not matter.


  NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-New Orleans Saints in Minnesota Vikings "data-chorus-optimize-field =" main_image "data-cid =" site / dynamic_size_image-1516106031_9352_376565 "data-cdata =" {"asset_id": 10038357, "ratio": "*"}

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The reaction on the bench is priceless. Half of the people standing there point to the lower field, imploring Diggs to run to victory. The others are still in shock.

Damn, I'm still in shock. It is hard to believe that it really happened.

I'm going to let Everson Griffen summarize it for me.


  NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-New Orleans Saints in Minnesota Vikings "data-chorus-optimize-field =" main_image "data-cid =" site / dynamic_size_image-1516106031_3071_376566 "data-cdata =" {"asset_id": 10038539, "ratio": "*"}

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Well placed.


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