The #MinneapolisMiracle Kept the Vikings Dream Alive

 

We’re inching closer and closer to the Super Bowl, and the games keep getting better. It all kicked off with the Eagles hosting the Falcons on Saturday afternoon. Without Wentz, nobody really gave Philly much of a chance to move on, but the Eagles embraced their new underdog role this weekend.

Nick Foles isn’t the same quarterback he once was with the Eagles, and he’s definitely not going to be playing up to the level of Carson Wentz anytime soon, but this weekend against the Falcons was his chance to silence all the doubters. Foles looked shaky to start, including having two fumbles in the first half, but luckily the Eagles kept possession on both of them. For two teams known for their high octane offenses, the Eagles and Falcons definitely looked like they were running on empty this weekend. With the score at 10-9 for the Falcons at halftime thanks to a missed extra point by Jake Elliott, it was clear that neither team was going to be running away with the game. Elliott made up for that miss by hitting two field goals in the second half, but the Falcons still had a chance late to win it.

The Falcons looked for their dynamic duo of Julio Jones and Matt Ryan to connect one more time, but much like the rest of their season, the pair were just slightly off. Jones averaged 90.2 yards per game, his lowest average since 2012. On top of that, Jones only found the endzone three times this year, which seems about right considering I drafted him first round in fantasy this year.

While the first game of the day was a nailbiter, the second wasn’t so close. The Patriots got off to a slow start, and it was the Titans who got on the board first late in the opening quarter.

But the Titans lead was short-lived, and a 21 point 2nd quarter for the Patriots pretty much ended the game by halftime. In the end it was a 35-14 final and the Patriots moved on to their 7th straight AFC Championship game. Despite the slow start, Tom Brady finished with 337 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Danny Amendola was on the other end of 112 of those yards. While it looked close early, New England made easy work of the Titans.

Sunday began with the Steelers and Jaguars to see who would be moving on to play the Patriots. While all year nearly everybody was preparing for a Pittsburgh vs New England, the Jaguars had other plans. Jacksonville dominated the Steelers in Week 5, but people still weren’t giving them much of a chance in the playoffs. While everyone in Pittsburgh might have forgotten about that last meeting, it’s safe to say that nobody in Jacksonville did.

It didn’t take long for the Jags to get started, scoring a touchdown on their first drive. But the scoring didn’t stop there. With the score already at 21-7 for Jacksonville, their defense looked to have put the game out of reach.

It didn’t matter how big the lead was, when watching this game you just had the feeling that it wasn’t over just yet. Roethelisberger found Martavis Bryant in the endzone right before halftime to cut the lead to 28-14, and they were getting the ball back to start the second half. After scoring again to cut the lead to 28-21, it felt like things were falling apart for Jacksonville. When it came down to it, the difference ended up being a 45 yard field goal by Josh Lambo, and the Jaguars walked off Heinz Field with a 45-42 win. Despite an interception and a fumble, you can’t blame Big Ben for the loss. He finished the day with 469 yards and 5 touchdowns, and continued to make big plays down the stretch.

As crazy as that game was, the Saints and Vikings somehow found a way to top it. After building a 17 point lead, and keeping the Saints scoreless in the first half the Saints looked like a new team coming out of halftime. But after scoring their first touchdown late in the third quarter, and again early in the fourth it was like a brand new game. After starting off slow, Drew Brees picked up his play to finish just shy of 300 yards with 3 touchdowns, and even overcame 2 earlier interceptions. Once again, the once dynamic duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram was held in check, combining for just 68 yards on the ground. However, Kamara was a big target for Brees and added another 62 yards and a touchdown through the air.

With just 1:29 left on the clock and one timeout left, the Saints took over down by 2. Brees led the Saints down the field, saving the clock and converting a 4th and 10 that would’ve ended the game. Eventually, the game was on the foot of Wil Lutz, who drilled a 43 yard field goal to put New Orleans up 24-23 and looked like they had the game locked down.

With 25 seconds left, it seemed impossible for the Vikings to score. And then this happened…

A week after the Titans had a repeat of the Music City Miracle, the Vikings had a miracle of their own. Marcus Williams had a great game until this play, but from now on he’ll always be referred to as “The guy who missed that tackle”. You know things are bad once you’ve been turned into a meme.

To be fair, it looked like he realized he got to the ball too early and was trying to avoid the pass interference penalty, but his effort to get out of the way did not go well at all.

Predictions

Last Week: 2-2, Overall, 3-5

I should’ve gone with my gut and taken the Jaguars over the Steelers, and I was a miracle away from getting my Saints pick right.

  • Patriots over Jaguars
  • Eagles over Vikings

I think we’ll get a Super Bowl 39 rematch between the Eagles and Patriots. I know the Vikings are the Super Bowl host this year, and the Eagles are playing without Wentz but I think the rest of the Eagles team is good enough to make up for that loss.

 

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