After the Minnesota Vikings lost their starting quarterback and running back in the first four weeks of the regular, it could have been easy to give up on the rest of the season. But they did quit and remained resilient to reach the NFC Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, the Vikings must stay resilient, but in a different way.
People are calling the 61-yard walk-off touchdown pass from QB Case Keenum to WR Stefon Diggs the “Minneapolis Miracle.” It is a play that will forever go down in Vikings history, but they realize the play is in the past and have a bigger opportunity in front of them.
“We understand the magnitude of this football game and it’s three days ago,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said on Wednesday on moving on from their remarkable win against the Saints. “It’s time to get on to Philadelphia and understand the things we have to do. I think out players are smart enough to understand what’s going on, so I don’t see any problem.”
Diggs, who may not ever have to pay another restaurant tab in Minnesota for as long as he lives, caught six passes for 137 yards and one touchdown. The biggest play of course was the game-winning touchdown he scored, but he is just relishing the opportunity the Vikings have another game to play.
“It’s just been a day-to-day thing,” Diggs said on how he has handled the last few days. “Happy to be in the position to get a ‘W’ for my teammates, for the fans that were there supporting, everybody that stuck around, and we get another opportunity.”
The Eagles like to load the box defensively, which opens the door for Diggs to have another huge Vikings playoff moment along with his receiving counterpart Adam Thielen. Diggs and Thielen are arguably the best receiving duo in the NFL, combining for 2,125 yards on 155 yards and 18 touchdowns.
“Well, every week is an opportunity to hit some things,” Diggs said on the opportunity of making big plays down field. “You kind of want to go in with the mindset that good things are going to happen when they’re supposed to. You got to trust your coaches and trust the guys around you. I always think we have a chance.”
For the quarterback throwing to Diggs and Thielen, Keenum has gotten his first playoff experience out of the way. He completed 25-of-40 passes for 318 yards to go along with one touchdown and an interception. Keenum now knows what to expect from an emotional standpoint and can handle himself properly. That can bold well for him, as there will be opportunities for the Vikings to convert big plays threw the air.
Besides not getting caught up in the Minneapolis Miracle, the Vikings, a dome team, must get adjusted to playing outside on a grass surface. Zimmer showed the Vikings tape of the field and the players have experience of playing in Philadelphia last season when they lost 21-10 in week 7.
“They’re going to be loud, they’re going to be saying some harsh words,” Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen said. “That really doesn’t matter. How you quiet down the fans is by scoring points, stopping the run and making it happen. With the cleats situation, you just have to go out there and try the cleats. Might have to wear seven-studs, go out there, try to feel it out.”
With a win, the Vikings will become the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. The Eagles will try to make history of their own by trying to win the NFC Championship title in hopes of winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Kickoff starts at 6:40 eastern time in what should be a gritty game between two great teams.
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