Did … did that just happen?
To be a Minnesota sports fan is a hard life. It is a life of pleasant surprises that don’t lead to anything or moderate expectations that are never reached.
Add to that the constant heartbreak.
Honestly, when Kai Forbath walked onto the field at U.S. Bank Stadium with around 90 seconds left in the NFC Divisional Playoff game, Vikings fans were prepared for heartbreak.
This is not in a lack of faith in Forbath, but rather the constant disappointment of ghosts of playoffs past. But when Forbath split the uprights to give the Vikings a two-point lead, fans’ hearts were spared, if only for 60 seconds on the game clock.
The New Orleans Saints’ drive that followed seemed destined to extend Minnesota fans’ misery. Sure enough, Drew Brees, who will be considered one of the all-time greats, engineered a drive to get a field goal.
With 27 seconds left, down one and at their own 25, Vikings fans stood at the edge of the pit of misery. It seemed like the team was not going to make it to Philly, Philly.
They were prepared to jump, and many likely did jump with the left side of the offensive line as did as well.
Even as Stefon Diggs hauled in a 19-yard catch to reach the Vikings’ 39-yard line, it felt like a little sweetener to numb the pain.
And then the miracle happened.
Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs, 61-yards, one missed tackle and a walk-off touchdown.
And the collective of Minnesota, along with a good portion of the nation, lost their minds. If there were still any doubts of possible noise levels at U.S. Bank Stadium, they were put to bed.
Around the state, the recorded reactions show just what this one win means. Fans across the river at the Xcel Energy Center flooded the concourse before the Wild game to watch the game on the TV screens. Timberwolves fans entered the Target Center early to finish watching the game.
Both groups cheered wildly as Diggs tiptoed the sideline on his scamper to the end zone.
Around the state, there were people piling on couches, dancing around living rooms, staring at the TV stunned and one guy who tore his Achilles tendon celebrating at home.
It was a moment to soak in, one that will stick for a lifetime.
And it came from one of the more improbable sources. While there were expectations in the preseason and early in the season, it never felt like this team, with these injuries, were going to do something this extraordinary.
Keenum, the “journeyman,” was never supposed to be the starter. Diggs is a fifth-round draft pick. Adam Thielen was undrafted. The offensive line was revamped from the Swiss cheese of last year. The defense continues to be strong.
But a trip to the NFC Conference Championship game? It wasn’t likely. And it makes the feeling that much better.
Now, the tough part: moving forward.
Vikings fans are likely to think they are destined for the Super Bowl, and that is not further from the truth.
The Philadelphia Eagles are a very good football team, even without Carson Wentz. The offensive lines will be tested for both teams. Alshon Jeffery against Xavier Rhodes will be a great matchup. Zach Ertz has become one of the hardest matchups in the NFL. Then there is the utility belt of running backs at the Eagles disposal.
And then there is the winner of the AFC Championship. Defense wins championships, and Jacksonville has a great one.
But if the Jaguars defense can’t win the game for the team, then that means Tom Brady will make the trip to Minneapolis.
But let’s not think about that too much. Instead, let’s celebrate what just happened. Who knows how long it will be before another Minnesota Miracle.