"It's a crazy world, so sports and athletics and music can be a form of escapism."
― Eddie Vedder
NFL Championship Games Preview
By Reylena Tsosie '21
The NFC championship game is made up of two NFL teams that have back up quarterbacks first, the Eagles quarterback, Nick Foles, and then Vikings quarterback Case Keenum. They both played together when they were quarterbacks for the Los Angeles Rams. “But like I’ve said, Case’s success doesn’t surprise me because we were together, we prepared together and we were around each other every day.” Nick Foles said in an interview. “I know this is what all you guys predicted back in the day was a Foles against Keenum in the NFC championship. So good job to all you guys that predicted that,” Keenum jokingly said this past Wednesday. On January 21, 2018 is the NFC championship which is when they will square off for a chance to go to Super Bowl LII.
Photo Credit: NFL.COM
The AFC championship is going to be very different. The Jaguars was a very surprising team to make it to the divisional playoff game. The Jaguars upset the Pittsburgh Steelers last week and moved on to the AFC championship game. Tom Brady had injured his hand during practice but he is still expected to play. Tom Brady said in an interview “This is the biggest challenge we've faced all year,” The AFC championship game will start January 21, at 1:05 P.M for a chance to go to Super Bowl LII.
A Minnesota Miracle For The Ages
By Zach Wargo '20
On another dramatic filled weekend of playoff football, with one of the most anticipated games of the weekend, the New Orleans Saints, and the Minnesota Vikings in a divisional playoff game, with a attendance of 66,612 in U.S Bank Stadium, which is also home of Super Bowl LII. In January, and in the playoffs is always a treat for sports fans around the country, so this game will be remembered for many years to come. The final six minutes of the divisional playoff game in Minnesota seemed like it lasted for two hours, the crowded always being electric, loud, deafening, and going into a frenzy after each 3rd down defensive stop, conversation, and every positive offensive play made by either Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, or Vikings kicker Kai Forbath.
With only ten seconds left in the game, a Vikings miracle was needed, as a prayer was answered. Vikings quarterback Case Keenum heard the play call on a 3rd & 10, which was Buffalo Right Seven Heaven from his Offensive Coordinator. On their own 39 yard line, three receivers on the right side of the field, only one on the left side of the field. In shotgun formation, dropping back to pass, pressure coming from his right side, fires a pass to the 34 yard line, only to be caught by wide receiver Stefon Diggs. To his surprise, Saints safety Marcus Williams clearly wiffed on a tackle, leading Diggs to an unbelievably 61 yard touchdown with no time left in the game, leading the Vikings home crowed into a frenzy, as a party was just starting in Minnesota. The Vikings will move on to play the Philadelphia Eagles this upcoming Sunday after defeating the Saints 29-24 in arguably one of the most entertaining finishes in NFL Postseason History.
The game started with all the momentum on the Vikings side, with their opening drive going eight plays, 55 yards, and ending off the drive with a 14 yard run to Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon, putting them to an early 7-0 lead. The struggles continued for the Saints, with the following drive going nowhere with another punt, and a solid drive leading to a field goal by Kai Forbath, extending their lead to 10-0, late in the 1st quarter. The Saints struggles continued, after a Vikings punt, the next play would be an interception by Andrew Sendejo.
The 2nd quarter was no different, with a tired Saints defense on the field once again, the Vikings established the run game putting the ball in Jerick McKinnon’s and Latavius Murray’s hands. The drive took the first 5 minutes of the 2nd quarter, and later a one yard touchdown by Latavius Murray would put the Vikings up 17-0. The Saints would quickly come out with a dominant passing game, and a drive that would take four minutes, only for it to get intercepted again by the dreaded Vikings defense. The quarter would play out to be sloppy, with two missed field goals at the end of the half, giving the Vikings momentum into halftime.
The 2nd half was a much different story for the Saints, starting off with a Vikings punt, and then going 80 yards to score a touchdown from a pass from Drew Brees into Michael Thomas’s hands to cut the lead to 10, making it 17-7. The third quarter consisted of only two long drives, which ending the third quarter quickly gave the Saints the ball again thanks to a Case Keenum interception. U.S Bank Stadium slowly grew into a nervous crowed after the interception and quickly the Saints would go right down the field, tearing up the Vikings defense, scoring another touchdown from Drew Brees, into Michael Thomas’s hands putting them only down by three with 13:09 left in the game. Case Keenum led the offense back out again, with a positive drive only to lead them to three points and only taking three minutes off the clock, letting the saints have 10:12 left to take the lead. After two punts by both teams, one of them later was blocked by the help of the backup QB for the Saints, and recovered at the Minnesota 40 yard line.
Soon after the blocked punt, the saints needed only four plays to get a touchdown, once again a pass to Alvin Kamara from Drew Brees, giving the Saints a 21-20 lead with 3:01 left in the game. The Stadium being silent for the first time during the game, only putting more pressure on Case Keenum and the offense shoulders. The drive started off with a pass for five yards, then a scramble for 4 yards, putting them at a key 3rd & 1 with 2:00 left in the game. Later the drive would start again with run by Jerick Mckinnon, and then a 24 yard pass to Adam Thielen. The drive would stall, putting the lead and the game in the kicker Kai Forbath’s hands. The kick would be good from 53 yards, energizing the crowd giving the lead back to the Vikings making it 23-21 with 89 seconds left in the game, only with the Saints having one timeout left. Putting the future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees and his offense under pressure in a hostile crowd with 1 timeout. Drew Brees went 6/9 and led the Saints down the field for kicker Wil Lutz quieting the home crowd with a 43 yard field goal with 29 seconds left in the game. Under all circumstances, the Vikings started the drive off with a false start, putting them farther back as they would be needing a miracle. Only a few plays later that would happen, a 61 yard bomb to Diggs, from heartbreak to triumph, giving the Vikings its first NFC Championship appearance since 2009, and breaking Saints fan’s hearts. To win 29-23.
The play would be remembered forever in history, known as the Minnesota Miracle, from recent and past postseason heartbreaks. Quarterback Case Keenum mouthed the words “Oh My God’ from his mouth, looking for someone to hug, media members and cameramen scattered across the field, huddling around Stefon Diggs. Stefon Diggs would later tell reporters, “I was at a loss of words, Speechless, biggest moment of my life.” Reactions from across the country, and from radio broadcasts would later be stunned, losing their minds, and speechless after the game. Moments later Case Keenum would lead the Vikings crowd into the SKOL chant, to end off the miracle, giving the city of Minnesota a game to remember for the ages.
All Photo Credit goes to Getty Images