Minneapolis – The greatest comeback in New Orleans Saints history quickly turned into the most gut-wrenching defeat when Stefon Diggs scored on a 61-yard reception with no time left to give the Minnesota Vikings a 29-24 divisional round victory.
The Vikings (14-3) will play at the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday at 5:40 p.m. in the NFC Championship Game. The winner moves on to Super Bowl 52.
The Saints (12-6) thought they had won when kicker Wil Lutz made a 43-yarder with 25 seconds left.
But Case Keenum and the Vikings weren’t dead as Keenum hit Diggs streaking down the right sideline for the winning score.
The loss ruined an amazing comeback.
Trailing 17-0 at halftime with zero third-down conversions and two turnovers, Brees connected twice on scoring passes with second-year receiver Michael Thomas, the first from 14 yards, and the second from 3 yards out and a third to rookie sensation Alvin Kamara that put the Saints up 21-20.
But Keenum marched the Vikings down the field and Kai Forbath made a 53-yarder to give Minnesota a 23-21 lead with 1:29 to play.
Plenty of time for Brees. Starting at his 25-yard-line, Brees hit tight end Josh Hill for 18 yards, Ted Ginn Jr. for 10 and then on fourth-and-10 completed a 13-yard pass to Drew Brees, which put the Saints in Lutz’s range.
The second-year kicker drilled it, but there was too much time left for the Vikings to work some magic. They did. New Orleans Saints key stats
Drew Brees, 25 of 40 for 294 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions
Mark Ingram, 10 carries for 25 yards
Alvin Kamara, 10 carries for 44 yards and four catches for 62 yards and a TD
Michael Thomas, seven catches for 85 yards and two TDs
Minnesota Vikings key stats
Case Keenum, 25 of 40 for 318 yards with one touchdown and one interception
Latavius Murray, 19 carries for 50 yards with one touchdown
Stefon Diggs, six catches for 137 yards with one touchdown