Drew Brees had only been shut out four times in the first half of a game in his entire career with the Saints. Minnesota’s swarming defense just made it five as they lured the normally accurate gunslinger in to two interceptions in the first two quarters of play.
Case Keenum did enough to keep the offense moving forward. The Vikings running game added two touchdowns, one each from Jerick McKinnon (14 yards) and Latavius Murray (1 yard), and a 20 yard field goal from Kai Forbath rounded out the scoring in the first half.
The Saints finally got on the board with 1:19 left in the third quarter as Brees threw a rainbow to Michael Thomas on the edge of the end zone. It appeared harmless enough until the Saints defense forced the first turnover of the game on a wild throw by Keenum. Brees drove the Saints back down for another score on a second touchdown pass to Thomas.
After a solid drive by the Vikings and a couple of challenges by Sean Peyton, Kai Forbath kicked a field goal to increase Minnesota’s lead to six.
Brees led the Saints on a decent drive of their own that ended on a third and one trick play that had receiver Willie Snead missing a wide open Alvin Kamara on what most likely would have tied the game. On the ensuing drive the Vikings moved the ball fairly well under Keenum but the drive ended on a blocked punt that set the Saints up with excellent field position.
The Saints took advantage of the momentum as Brees threw his third touchdown of the game, this time a 14 yard beauty to Kamara. The extra point by Wil Lutz gave the Saints a 21-20 lead, with 3:00 left in the 4th quarter. Keenum needed to at least get his offense into field goal range for his kicker and he did so thanks to a brilliant catch by receiver Adam Thielen. Forbath nailed a 53 yard field goal with 1:34 left on the clock.
It was plenty of time for Brees to get his team in position for a field goal as he completed a pass on 4th and 10 to keep his team alive with the season on the line. Lutz put the Saints back on top by nailing a 43 yard field goal with :25 left in the game.
It appeared to be over and the Vikings looked to have no chance when Keenum launched a pass down the sideline to Stefon Diggs who scored the winning touchdown in unbelievable fashion as time ran off the clock. The Vikings broke into a celebration on the field and after reviewing the play the refs had to call the Saints, who had already left the field, back out of their locker room for a meaningless extra point to round out the scoring.
With the victory the Vikings advance to the NFC Conference Championship Game in Philadelphia next weekend.