NFC Wildcard Weekend – Minnesota Vikings – 26 New Orleans Saints – 20
I don’t want to say that Drew Brees is unlucky…but the guy can’t seem to catch a break. He’s an all-timer when you look at the stats, but the Saints and their quarterback were eliminated early yet again after an improbable overtime home loss to the Vikings. Last season it was the Rams, the uncalled pass interference and a Jared Goff-fueled Rams team in overtime of the NFC Championship game. This year it was missed opportunities, a few untimely sacks, and one glorious Kirk Cousins pass that sent the Saints to the NFL’s recycling bin.
Of all the games last weekend, this was the one I felt the most sure about (I went 1-3, so what the heck did I know?). Aside from one uncharacteristic loss in the regular season, a 26-9 home drubbing by the lowly Falcons, the Saints have been excellent all season long, even with Teddy Bridgewater filling in when Drew Brees was out for a handful of games.
But a few factors were stacked against the Saints in this one, despite their regular season success.
The Saints are 1-4 all time against the Vikings in the postseason.
The Saints have only come from behind to win a playoff game once in the playoffs when trailing after three quarters. They trailed 20-10 to start the fourth quarter in this one.
Alvin Kamara just wasn’t himself, producing only 55 yards from scrimmage on seven rushes and eight receptions.
Vikings running back Dalvin Cook was by far the better of the two superstar backs, accounting for 130 yards from scrimmage with two touchdowns. Defensively, the Vikings seemed to come up huge in the most important moments. Anthony Harris had a huge interception on one of Drew Brees longest pass attempts of the game, and the Vikings stifled another drive with a forced fumble by Danielle Hunter.
In the overtime, the Saints would never see the ball, as Kirk Cousins (19/32, 242 yards, TD) would lead the visiting Vikings right down the field on the first drive of the overtime, covering 75 yards in nine plays, highlighted by a 43-yard dart to Adam Thielen ( 7 rec. 129 yards), that brought the Vikings to the Saints two yard line. Three plays later, Cousins and the Vikings would seal the deal with a quick hit to TE Kyle Rudolph to set up a divisional round matchup with the 49ers.
Credit where credit is due, Kirk…I like that. I like that.
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Image Source: AP Images