Vikings stun the Saints in overtime

With one overtime drive, Kirk Cousins may have gotten the monkey off his back.
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Kirk Cousins

The Minnesota Vikings came into Sunday's NFC Wild Card game with the New Orleans Saints as heavy underdogs. With one final overtime drive, Kirk Cousins led the Vikings to victory with a 26-20 overtime upset in the Superdome.

The beginning of the game got off to a rough start for the Vikings as Adam Thielen fumbled on the third play of the game. The Saints began their initial drive deep into Vikings territory, but a sack by Danielle Hunter held New Orleans to a Wil Lutz field goal for an early 3-0 lead.

The rest of the first quarter saw the Vikings offense move the ball well but ultimately get in their own way to prevent it from showing up on the scoreboard. Their second drive got into Saints territory, but a failed "Philly Special: on first down led to a Dan Bailey field goal to tie the game at 3-3.

After a three-and-out, the Vikings had another strong drive fueled by the efforts of Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, but a holding penalty on Thielen stalled out the drive and forced the Vikings to punt at the end of the first quarter.

The Vikings defense was stout for the opening drive of the second quarter, but after another Viking drive stalled, Taysom Hill got the Saints offense going connecting with Deontae Harris on a 50-yard pass that set up an Alvin Kamara touchdown to give New Orleans a 10-3 lead.

The following drive saw the Vikings put together their best effort of the first half as Kyle Rudolph and Cook broke big gains to help bring the Vikings down to the New Orleans goal line. However, a pair of malfunctions from the skycam and Cook's visor gave the Saints time to recover and hold Minnesota to another field goal from Bailey to make it 10-6.

The Saints would get the ball back and while they were trying to sneak in a play before the two-minute warning, Drew Brees threw it up into the arms of Anthony Harris, who returned the ball back into Saints territory. This time the Vikings capitalized on the opportunity, handing the ball to Cook for a six-yard touchdown to take the 13-10 lead.

The Saints didn't go into the locker room quietly, however, as Harris had a 54-yard return on the kickoff and a 20-yard reception by Michael Thomas set up Lutz for a potential game-tying field goal that sailed wide left to bring the teams into the locker room.

The second half began with both defenses taking control before Cousins found Thielen for a 34-yard completion to put Minnesota in business. After the drive appeared to be stalling on a 3rd & 9, Cousins found Stefon Diggs for his first catch of the day and Cook plowed in for his second touchdown of the day to put the Vikings ahead 20-10.

The Vikings spent the rest of the third quarter dodging potential disasters as Taysom Hill picked up a first down on a fake punt, but the play was blown dead on a false start. When the Vikings got the ball back, Cousins got lit up by Cameron Jordan and the ball was returned for a touchdown, but the play had also been blown dead by a false start, helping Minnesota cling to its ten-point lead entering the fourth quarter.

Alas, it was an act way too familiar for Vikings fans. The Saints executed an eight-play drive to perfection that ended with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Taysom Hill to cut the Vikings lead down to 20-17 with 10:31 to play.

The Vikings' key objective on the next drive was to kill the clock, but after picking up a first down, Minnesota faced a 3rd & 8 and Cousins' shot downfield went in and out of the hands of Alexander Hollins to give the ball back to the Saints.

At this point, Hill was a force that could not be stopped by the Vikings, establishing himself on the ground to drive the Saints into Viking territory. Just as New Orleans looked ready to at least tie the game, Hunter broke through again and forced a fumble by Brees to give the ball back to the Vikings.

But the Vikings couldn't just make things easy on the next drive. After Thielen barely converted a third-and-8, Cook appeared to fumble into the arms of A.J. Klein, who returned it for what would have been a go-ahead touchdown. The play would be reviewed, however, and Cook was ruled down by contact to keep the drive alive.

The drive didn't go far as the Vikings were stopped on their next two plays before kicking it away to the Saints with 1:55 remaining. The Saints used the next seven plays to march down the field and set Lutz up for a 49-yard field goal and sent the game into overtime.

In overtime, Cousins found Adam Thielen on a long gain before throwing a touchdown to Rudolph to help secure the victory. The Vikings will now head to San Francisco for the NFC Divisional playoffs next weekend.

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