Let me lay out the setting--a 2 bedroom apartment in a town of less than 1500 people, -12 outside with a -20 or more windchill. I look out my window and see blowing snow obscuring my pickup and other vehicles, along with a pair of hay bales to my right next to the top of the hill. I'm on the edge of town so the sun set bleeds purple and orange and blue into the western horizon. It's deadly cold outside but the view is breathtaking, as it is all winter long in North Dakota. Inside I finish an incredible Vietnam novel entitled Matterhorn in the middle of the Jaguars/Steelers game. I make some basic bachelor food. I do my laundry. I play the intro to "In My Arms Instead" by Randy Rogers Band on my guitar. I follow the Shoutbox as many of us often do on Sundays, a form of invisible but nation-wide camaraderie we're all accustomed to while we sit by ourselves and enjoy the game we all love so much.
You all know my history at this site. When I first arrived referees were akin to Hitler, Stalin, and Lucifer. I've known for years how overbearing it was, and how embarrassing it was for me. That being said, let's flip the script a full 180. Now, I don't hardly speak during games while I'm watching them, by myself or with family/friends. My neighbors won't hear me yelling. A loss, no matter how important the game is, won't ruin my day. I watch calmly and don't really have that much invested in how the games turn out. There will be the usual empty pit feeling of a loss, but an hour later and I'm reading a book, strumming on my guitar, or playing pool with friends at a local bar. During the game I might state my opinions in the shoutbox or in game threads, but TGP has become something of a safe outlet for such things. I can get out of hand from time to time and those small moments are now twice as embarrassing as the old meltdowns used to be. It's not the embarrassment that drove me to changing my reactions so much, but the realization that i just didn't want to care that much about a fucking game. So yeah, I've mellowed considerably. And I love it.
With that 180 flip in place, let me outline how this game went for me. 7-0 after a stop of the Saints. Hey cool, we're here to play. 10-0, another stop. Awesome. 17-0, stops galore and 2 picks of Drew Brees--OK we're probably going to win this game. I'm not jumping around, but I am excited, and I'm having fun discussing the game with guys like Thanatos and Ben and SteVo and a few others in the Shoutbox. Then Forbath misses a makeable FG going into half and the dread sets in. Not the all-encompassing dread of of the past, but a newfound, beaten-into-the-hearts of Vikings fans dread that just says "here we go again."
And that dread plays out--Keenum makes inexcusable mistakes on two consecutive drives to start the second half and all of a sudden it's a ball game. The Saints claw back. Michael Thomas gets in the head of my boy X and scores a touchdown. X gets hurt on the next drive and sits out while Thomas reminds us that Terence Newman is indeed 39 fucking years old. Honest to god I'm not sure Newman moved until Thomas was catching the ball. #23 looked 39 years old on that play. Then, X is back the following series. Thomas is under control, but Brees is Brees and he finds Kamara on a beautiful throw on a route that Eric Kendricks covered beautifully but what else can he do? It's 21-20. Case leads a FG drive, but he and Shurmur mishandle the clock. Badly. 23-21 with too much time to play. The Saints come back on the march, but X makes Thomas disappear, because that's what X does. Unfortunately, Mackenzie Alexander gets bullied and gives up a 4th and 10 to the forgotten Willie Snead. The Saints get into FG range, and Lutz puts them up with less than 30 seconds left.
By this point I'd swapped my Vikings shirt (long sleeved NFL Shop with Rhodes 29 on the back) for my Wild shirt ( short sleeved with Dubnyk 40). I'm not defeated so much as just accepting of the probabilities. Then Case drops back on 3rd down, throws a dart down the right sideline, and Stefon Diggs makes perhaps the biggest play in Vikings history.
The play was appropriately dubbed The Minneapolis Miracle by Vikings play-by-play guy Paul Allen 10 seconds after it happened in one of the greatest radio calls I've ever heard (NFL Live played it to end their show).
I'm silent on my couch, stunned, thinking "did he step out of bounds? Dear god I hope he didn't step out bounds!" Replays show it's real. The Vikings have won in arguably the most stunning finish in recent playoff history, if not playoff history altogether. These things don't happen. They just don't happen. The poor kid for the Saints was just trying to avoid costing his team the game with either a DPI penalty or some kind of personal foul if he hits Diggs illegally. That's all Marcus Williams was trying to do--not lose his team the game, but it results in #14 in purple scampering down the sidelines for the winning score, fittingly reminding us that while Adam Thielen has stolen the show as Minnesota's best receiver in 2017-18, Stefon Diggs was a known commodity who is a star in his own right.
After all these years of real, at times unexplainable misfortune, the Vikings had something go their way.
I said a numb fan's perspective because I almost feel like I didn't experience this as much as I should have, but I think it's just the shock of it happening in the first place. I'm still in disbelief. It's incredible to know that something good happened for this team, finally. The rest of the playoffs be damned. Whatever happens be damned. Good fortune came to the Vikings for once. It's unbelievable.
How did this crazy play unfold for you?
Edited by BwareDWare94, 15 January 2018 - 01:08 AM.