Stefon Diggs’ 61-yard touchdown catch to beat the New Orleans Saints will go down as one of the most exciting plays in NFL playoff history. But his final catch was from from his only key play in the Vikings’ win at US Bank Stadium on Sunday.
The Vikings’ third-year receiver also made a catch to give the Vikings any chance at a miracle. Case Keenum and Co. opened up their final drive with a false start by guard Mike Remmers. On first-and-15, Keenum found Diggs wide open on a crossing route for 19 yards.
During a second quarter touchdown drive, Keenum hit Diggs for an 11-yard first down on a third-and-eight to set the Vikings up with first-and-10 at the New Orleans 15 yard line. Latavius Murray punched the ball in for a touchdown.
On a third-and-7 with 6:25 left in the first quarter, Keenum threw a 17-yard pass to Diggs for a first down. Two plays later, the Vikings’ receiver cleverly fell to the ground grabbing the cornerback’s wrist to draw a 34-yard penalty flag. The Vikings picked up a field goal on that drive.
Diggs has come up with big plays all season, going back to Week 1 when he scored two touchdowns against the Saints in a 29-19 victory. He didn’t have an impressive fantasy season, but was ranked as Pro Football Focus’s ninth best receiver and he led the NFL in completion percentage on contested catches.
One of the reasons Diggs didn’t have crazy stats was that Adam Thielen was also a top target.
Thielen’s catch to set up a go-ahead field goal with under two minutes left should not go forgotten in the Vikings’ incredible 29-24 win to earn a spot in the NFC title game.
With second-and-10 at his own 36, Keenum rolled to his right and flung a pass in the air in Thielen’s direction. The Vikings’ receiver leaped up over shutdown corner Marshone Lattimore for a 24-yard gain to set up Kai Forbath from 53 yards away.
Lattimore was in Thielen’s pocket for the duration, yet the Vikings’ Pro Bowler ended up with six catches on nine targets for 74 yards.
The Vikings’ receiver duo – unquestionably the best in the NFL – combined for 155 catches during the regular season and caught nearly 70 percent of throws in their direction. They force opponents to either play two safeties over the top or match up with them one-on-one – which proved again on Sunday to be an impossible feat.