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Saints come back from 17-0 deficit, but lose heartbreaker to Vikings

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At the end of the day, what a way to close out the NFL Divisional Playoff Round. The Saints and Vikings put on a show.

NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints season is over after falling to the Minnesota Vikings. It was a wild affair in Minneapolis on Sunday afternoon, as the Saints overcame a 17-0 deficit.

The Vikings won the coin toss and elected to defer the opening kickoff. The Saints punted after a three-and-out, and thankfully Thomas Morstead made a touchdown-saving tackle, getting injured in the process. The Vikings offense looked to be held off, but was given a very generous spot on a 3rd & 1 to pick up the conversion. They found the red zone quickly after, and capped off their first drive with a Jerick McKinnon 14-yard touchdown run to strike first.

The Saints couldn’t do much with the next offensive possession, and the Vikings cashed in after a 7-play, 79-yard drive thanks to two pass interference calls from Ken Crawley (one was absolutely bogus). The defense held Case Keenum and company out of the end zone, but Kai Forbath converted a short 20-yard field goal to put the Vikings up 10-0.

Nothing continued to go right for the Saints, even after the defense helped them out to force a three-and-out. Drew Brees took a deep shot and tried Ted Ginn Jr., but it was horribly underthrown to make it an easy pick for Andrew Sendejo. The Vikings would make them pay, going on a 12-play, 58-yard drive that was capped off by a Latavius Murray rushing touchdown to put Minnesota up 17-0.

When the Saints offense got something going, it ended in pure disaster. Brees threw a second interception after Everson Griffen tipped the ball at the line of scrimmage into the falling arms of Anthony Barr. The Vikings had an opportunity to get some late first half points after a 58-yard missed field goal by Wil Lutz, but didn’t get there.

Entering the second half, the Vikings were moving the ball pretty well. However, their drive would end after Sheldon Rankins came up with a big 3rd Down sack. The Saints caught a break from the punt going into the end zone, and then Drew Brees helped pilot a 12-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a Michael Thomas 14-yard reception for a touchdown to cut the Vikings lead to 17-7.

The Saints got the ball right back after Case Keenum threw a pop fly that was easily intercepted by Marcus Williams to give New Orleans back the ball. Just six plays later, Brees found Michael Thomas again for a 3-yard score to cut the lead to 17-14. The Vikings would counter with a field goal drive, as Kai Forbath connected from 49 yards out to extend Minnesota’s lead to 20-14.

Willie Snead had a shot to become a hero on a 3rd & 1 play in which the Saints ran some trickery. Snead had a wide open Alvin Kamara streaking for a touchdown, but couldn’t connect with him going across the field. The Vikings saw their drive stall, which ended in a punt that was blocked by George Johnson to give the Saints offense good field position.

They’d cash in just several plays later with Alvin Kamara on a wheel route from Drew Brees to take the lead 21-20 with nearly 3 minutes to go. The Vikings would re-take the lead late from a long Kai Forbath field goal, but left some time on the clock for Brees to go to work down 23-21.

Brees helped the Saints drive down the field, and it came down to the season being on the line on a 4th & 10, but Willie Snead converted on a 13-yard reception to keep the team’s season alive. At the end of it all, it came down to kicker Wil Lutz, who drilled a 43-yard field goal with less than 30 seconds to play to put the Saints back up 24-23.

The final play of the game saw Stefon Diggs win it and all Marcus Williams had to do was make the tackle. Wow is all I have to say. 30-24 Vikings.