The Minnesota Vikings beat the New Orleans Saints in a thrilling, 29-24 finish thanks to a 61-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Case Keenum to wide receiver Stefon Diggs. It was one of the most dramatic finishes to a game in recent NFL playoff history, but to understand the full context of the game-winning play, we need to look at the play before it.
On the previous play, the Saints’ defense showed its hand: Instead of trying to play its standard defense, it played to prevent the Vikings from getting out of bounds to stop the clock.
The Saints kept two safeties deep but played everyone else with outside leverage to protect the sideline. They went as far as to have two cornerbacks stay on the sideline and leave the receivers running open into the middle of the field.
With the Saints’ intentions clear, the Vikings knew they could try to flood one side of the field to occupy the two cornerbacks on the sideline and potentially pick up a completion between the cornerback and deep safety to get themselves in field goal range.
With three receivers all breaking to the sideline, the Saints were left with just rookie safety Marcus Williams over the top to account for Diggs’s deeper route. That’s not an ideal situation for the Saints, but Williams is still in position to at least make the tackle. He smartly positions himself with outside leverage on Diggs, knowing he can give up the catch and make the tackle to keep him in bounds, ending the game.
However, at the last second, Williams makes an error that costs his team the game: He drops his head as he’s about to make contact with Diggs. Losing sight of his target, Williams only manages to make partial contact with Diggs and ends up taking out his teammate instead. Diggs does a great job keeping his balance and having the awareness to feel nobody behind him as he sprints for the game-winning touchdown.
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