Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs makes a catch over Saints free safety Marcus Williams on his way to the game-winning touchdown during the second half. The Vikings defeated the Saints, 29-24. (Jeff Roberson/Associated Press)

It was a near-unbelievable finish Sunday in Minnesota that sent the bedeviled Vikings past the New Orleans Saints and to the NFC championship game. 

The Saints trailed 17-0 at halftime, marking the first time New Orleans had been shut out in a first half since Week 4 of the 2014 season, a road game against the Dallas Cowboys. The Saints managed to fight their way back and even led 21-20 after running back and rookie of the year candidate Alvin Kamara scored on a 14-yard pass. According to ESPN’s win probability, that gave New Orleans a 55 percent chance at winning the game. That would rise to 96 percent after Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, trailing 24-23 threw an incomplete pass with 14 seconds left.


Then, the improbable happened: Keenum found Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs in the open field, and instead of Saints safety Marcus Williams wrapping him up, he instead dove for his legs, missing Diggs completely, resulting in a game-winning 61-yard touchdown as time expired.

Going from 4 percent to 100 percent win probability is amazing in of itself, but it is more impressive that Keenum and Diggs were not only able to connect on a pass that traveled 27 yards in the air, but tack on 34 yards after the catch for a score. This season, quarterbacks completed just 160 of 570 (28 percent) passes that traveled at least 25 yards past the line of scrimmage. Just 23 of those 160 also saw at least 20 yards after the catch. Even less (20) reached the end zone. Not only did the Vikings overcome incredible odds to win, they did it with a play that failed 28 out of every 29 times it has been tried in 2017.

The odds of both happening on the same play? Seventy-one to one, greater than the odds of flipping a coin and having it land on heads six times in a row. But that might be selling the odds short, since it was also the first time in NFL playoff history a team scored a game-winning touchdown with no time remaining in the fourth quarter.

Who knows exactly how unlikely it was that Minnesota won that game, but we are 100 percent sure the Vikings are now just one win away from becoming the first team to play a Super Bowl at home.

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