SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — For the second time in three years, the Minnesota Vikings knocked New Orleans out of the postseason on the game’s final play, advancing to face San Francisco in the divisional playoffs.
Sunday’s game couldn’t have started any worse for the Vikings, as Adam Thielen’s fumble on their opening drive helped give New Orleans the early 3-0 lead.
“As a competitor when you have a bad play, all you want is to get the ball again and just get going,” Vikings Wide Receiver Adam Thielen said.
Thielen would more than make up for that mistake, hauling in 7 catches for 129 yards, including the crucial 43 yard reception that set up the eventual game winning score.
“Just so thankful for my teammates and my coaches that they just trust me, and everybody was positive, and everybody had my back,” Thielen said.
Dalvin Cook returned to the lineup and didn’t miss a beat, with 130 total yards and 2 TD’s on the day, and Mike Zimmer’s defense finally looked like itself once again, limiting the league’s 3rd highest scoring offense to just 20 points.
“We were pretty short handed in the secondary today, so we had to mix up the coverages a little bit. We had some pressures in there,” Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said.
But shining brightest for Minnesota was quarterback Kirk Cousins, who silenced many of his critics with his performance on Sunday.
“All we’ve heard about is Kirk Cousins this, Kirk Cousins that. Playoff games, big games on the road, so much nonsense. It takes 10 other guys on offense, and I’ve said that all year long. And today those 10 other guys stepped up huge to allow Kirk to go out there and play well,” Vikings Tight End Kyle Rudolph said.
As they get set to face the 49ers, the Vikings are using lessons they learned from their playoff win over the Saints two years ago.
“The last time we had a big win with no time left, we laid an egg the next week. So you know we’ll enjoy it, it’s a short week, and we’ve got play the one-seed on the road now,” Rudolph said.
The Vikings clash with the 49ers in the divisional round on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3:35.