How bad was it for Saints fans? Dude:
— kile (@kyledet) January 15, 2018
The guy who posted that now claims it was a joke, but watch the final play below if you missed it last night. Throwing the TV off the balcony was a perfectly reasonable reaction. To set the stage, the Vikings had blown a 17-0 halftime lead at home, with Drew Brees driving the Saints down the field for a go-ahead field goal with less than a minute remaining. With 10 seconds left, the Vikings still needed ~30 yards to get into field-goal range themselves. They had no timeouts. And the man under center, Case Keenum, was a career back-up QB before taking over this year for an injured Sam Bradford. Realistic worst-case scenario for the Saints: Keenum completes a long pass and the Vikings are still forced to make a field goal of 50+ yards to win — assuming they had enough time left after the play was over to get to the line of scrimmage and get the kick off.
Keenum did throw a long pass to the sidelines and completed it but it was high enough that wide receiver Stefon Diggs had to jump to catch it, leaving him vulnerable to a tackle in-bounds. If that had happened, time might have expired before they got set for the field goal try.
But it didn’t happen.
— NFL (@NFL) January 15, 2018
That clip doesn’t do justice to the crowd noise inside the stadium as fans realized that the latest heartbreaking Vikings playoff loss — and there have been many — was actually one of the most magical last-second postseason victories in NFL history:
— Scott Kegley (@ScottKegley) January 15, 2018
What happened? If you’re playing a prevent defense, your job is to prevent the big play. Get to the ball, tackle your man in bounds, let the clock do the rest. The man responsible for that, safety Marcus Williams, just … whiffed. Watch the clip again. I think Williams closed on the ball initially thinking he might have a shot at a pick, then realized that Diggs was there in front of him and feared he’d be charged with pass interference if he ran into him. A penalty would have been very bad there, as it would have stopped the clock and let the Vikings prepare for a field-goal try. Williams should have stopped dead in his tracks once he saw Diggs and prepared to make the tackle, but maybe he couldn’t because of his momentum. He got there too soon and judged that he couldn’t avoid contact.
So he tumbled underneath an airborne Diggs … apparently forgetting that there were no other defenders behind him. Still, even with Williams’s screw-up, everything had to go right for the Vikings on the play to make the magic happen. Keenum had to make the throw; Diggs had to go up and get it; he had to somehow stay in-bounds while landing; and he had to have the presence of mind and the sheer balls to make a run for the end zone with time expiring. The “safe” play in that situation would have been to run out of bounds once the pass was completed and get ready for the field goal. Diggs rolled the dice instead that no Saint could catch him.
As for poor Marcus Williams, who’s all of 21 years old and has already made a career-defining mistake, he was a wreck after the game:
#saints Rookie safety Marcus Williams feel to his knees on his way to locker room after his missed tackle cost saints the game and then inside the locker cried with his head in his hands.
— Alex Flanagan (@Alex_Flanagan) January 15, 2018
He’d played well otherwise, with a key interception in the third quarter that helped turn the momentum towards New Orleans. I joked afterwards that Minnesota was going to retire Williams’s number after his mistake with Diggs but it’s impossible not to feel sympathy for him after watching the clip below. It’s obvious that he’s been crying. Quote: “I’m gonna take it upon myself to do all that I can to never let that happen again. And, I mean, if it happens again, then I shouldn’t be playing.”
We’re now all set for that Nick Foles/Case Keenum dream match-up for the NFC Championship that everyone’s been hoping for.