The last-second, 61-yard touchdown that Stefon Diggs scored to help the Vikings reach the NFC title game didn’t just stun the Saints and millions of TV viewers. It left other NFL players in their own states of shock, as they shared their reactions on social media.
Many current and former players also found fault with New Orleans safety Marcus Williams, whose missed tackle allowed Diggs to run unopposed to the end zone. However, some made the case that the rookie’s inability to make contact with Diggs stemmed from a fear of drawing a pass-interference penalty.
No sooner had Diggs scored than several NFL players, including the Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins, the Bengals’ Andy Dalton, the 49ers’ Pierre Garcon and the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. and Akeem Ayers, summed up the moment with the word “Wow,” give or take an exclamation point or six.
“Greatest game ever,” opined free agent wide receiver Eddie Royal, adding, “It’s bout to be a PARTY tonight!!!”
“Can y’all believe that?” former defensive end DeMarcus Ware asked. “I’m stunned. Helluva game.”
“As a fan of the game, those last 3-4 mins were incredible,” Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said.
Former defensive end Shawne Merriman saw fit to remind the world that Diggs went to his alma mater, Maryland. “TERP!!!!!!!!” he tweeted.
“Big time players, make big time plays, in big time games,” Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson said of Diggs.
“Love seeing Diggs soak it all in,” former tight end Joel Dreessen said. “Every guy who has ever played football has dreamed of scoring a game winning TD on the very last play of the game. He just did it in the NFL playoffs. Incredible.”
Williams, however, received decidedly less praise. The safety dove low as Diggs was catching the ball, not only missing the wide receiver entirely but rolling into teammate Ken Crawley and preventing him from possibly stopping Diggs from scoring.
“#43?????????????” former nose tackle Vince Wilfork tweeted with incredulity, referring to Williams’s jersey number. “Just tackle the guy!! Omg,” he added.
Williams “might get left in Minnesota,” Lions guard T.J. Lang joked, while former wide receiver David Clowney went further, predicting the safety was going to be “released before he get to the locker room.” Royal called him “the Bill Buckner of New Orleans.”
“Daaaaannnnnggg!!! That’s crazy! Buddy going to have to hitch hike home after that!!” Cowboys running back Alfred Morris exclaimed.
“Wow. I bet #MarcusWilliams is going to throw up when he goes back to look at this tape,” said former linebacker Takeo Spikes. “Bad, bad, bad. Just make the tackle.”
“Marcus Williams played like the game was over,” free agent linebacker Chris White said. “He thought it was over just like all of us. I do hate it for him but that’s what he gets. Out there playing loose.”
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, though, offered a different point of view. He expressed it in response to a tweet from NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks, who said Williams “only needed to make the tackle to win the game. Rookie safety closed his eyes and ducked his head. Just needed to wrap him up and get him down.”
“He thought he was early and was avoiding [pass interference],” said Olsen. “Look close he PURPOSELY avoids WR.”
The Cardinals’ Antoine Bethea offered moral support for his fellow safety, saying, “Keep your head up young fella [Marcus Williams]. This one will hurt but you’ll learn from it and bounce back! Hell of season Rook!”
“Send a prayer out for that Boy he played a good to help them have a chance to win,” said Broncos cornerback Chris Harris.
Harris also made a reference to a similar play in the 2013 postseason, when the Ravens won after tying his Denver squad in the closing moments of regulation, as safety Rahim Moore allowed Baltimore wide receiver Jacoby Jones to get behind him for a stunning score. “Aye that happen to us I’m still not over it lol,” Harris said.
“Saints just had a Raheem Moore moment,” agreed Dreessen, who was also on that Denver team. “I can’t believe my eyes.”
Hardly anyone could believe what they had just seen, but the consensus was that it was one of the most remarkable endings to a game in memory. Or, as 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley put it, “Games like this just continue to solidify why American football and the NFL is the greatest sport ever created!!”
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