Saturday, October 20, 2018
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Spoiler alert: What happens after Minnesota Miracle and the like

Did you see it?

Tell me it wasn't the craziest ending you ever saw. Tell me you didn't blurt out some sort of version of "Oh my gosh!'' Tell me you didn't keep questioning if you really saw what you just saw.

It was play so remarkable that it immediately had a name: the Minnesota Miracle.

The Minnesota Vikings won their playoff game Sunday on the most impossible, incredible, dream of a play. Their quarterback, Case Keenum, threw a prayer into the air and it was caught by receiver Stefon Diggs. Saints safety Marcus Williams, the poor kid, completely whiffed on the tackle and Diggs ended up scoring a 61-yard touchdown as time expired to send Minnesota to Sunday's NFC Championship in Philadelphia.

Where they will lose.

Sorry, Vikings fans.

But the Vikings will lose because, well, that's what the Vikings do. Right? A loss in Philly would fit in perfectly with Minnesota football history. And they will lose because history says there's a good chance they will.

Miracles one moment often result in heartbreak the next.

Sunday's Minnesota Miracle, because of how it all played out, is probably the NFL's wildest ending since the famed Immaculate Reception in 1972.

The Immaculate Reception: still the most famous play in NFL history. That's when Pittsburgh's Franco Harris snatched a deflected pass inches from the ground and raced more than 40 yards to beat Oakland in the playoffs. It was beginning of the Steelers' dominance in the 1970s as one of the greatest dynasties in the history of the sport.

But here's the thing that is often forgotten or lost in the shadow of the Immaculate Reception: the Steelers lost the next week in the AFC Championship Game to the perfect 1972 Dolphins.

That sort of thing happens all the time.

The term "Hail Mary'' became popular after a 1975 playoff game when the Cowboys threw up a prayer and beat the Vikings in the final minute. But the Cowboys ended up losing to the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

The Bills had that stunning comeback from a 32-point deficit to beat the Oilers in the NFL's 1992 season playoffs. It remains the biggest comeback in postseason history. But then the Bills were crushed, 52-17, by Dallas in the Super Bowl.

Remember Denver's "The Drive'' by John Elway? It was a 98-yard drive that helped the Broncos win the 1986 AFC Championship. But it was merely a great moment that led to Denver getting waxed by the Giants in the Super Bowl.

How about the Music City Miracle? The lateral kickoff return on the game's last play led the Titans over the Bills in the 1999 playoffs. But the Titans lost in the Super Bowl to the Rams.

It's not exclusive to football.

Evan Longoria's homer in Game 162 of the 2011 season is Tampa Bay's most famous baseball moment and sent the Rays to the postseason. But Tampa Bay lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Older baseball fans will remember Chris Chambliss' walk-off homer to win the American League pennant in 1976. But the Yankees were then swept in the World Series by the Reds.

On and on.

Then again, maybe this finally will be the end of the Vikings curse.

Has any fan base suffered more than Vikings fans over the past 50 years? Those from Minnesota like to say that it's appropriate that Peanuts creator Charles Schultz is from the Twin Cities. Because it was his creation, Charlie Brown, who always got excited thinking he was going to kick the football only to have Lucy pull it out from under him at the last moment.

That's Vikings football.

They've never won a Super Bowl. In fact, they were the first team to lose four Super Bowls. They once lost a chance to go to the Super Bowl because their kicker, who hadn't missed a kick all season, missed a field goal. And, don't forget, they were on the losing end of when "Hail Mary'' because a regular part of football vocabulary.

Maybe this is the year the football won't be pulled out from underneath the Vikings. Maybe Minnesota's "Where you when …'' moment will turn into a "Look at us now …'' championship.

But history — both sports history and the history of the Vikings — suggest that Minnesota will be shouting something else at the end of Sunday's NFC Championship:

Good grief!

Contact Tom Jones at [email protected] Follow @tomwjones