The Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints face off in a Christmas afternoon matchup to get Week 16 of the NFL season started. These two teams first met in 1968 and have played 35 games. Here are the five greatest.
5. Minnesota Vikings 31, New Orleans Saints 24
Nov. 8, 1998 – Minneapolis
Vikings quarterback Randall Cunningham twisted his ankle and Minnesota struggled with backup Brad Johnson at the helm, blowing a 17-0 lead. In the fourth quarter, Johnson threw an interception that Sammy Knight returned 91 yards for a score to tie the game at 24-24 with 10:10 remaining. Johnson then led the team on an 81-yard drive that was punctuated with a one-yard touchdown by Leroy Hoard for the win.
4. Minnesota Vikings 26, New Orleans 20 (NFC Wild Card Game)
Jan. 5, 2020 – New Orleans
In the Wild Card Round, the 13-3 Saints found themselves down 20-10 to the Vikings at home in the fourth quarter. New Orleans battled back and tied the game with a 49-yard field goal with two seconds left to send the game into overtime. No matter. Minnesota got the ball first in overtime and Kirk Cousins led the team on a 75-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph. The Vikings lost the next weekend to the Super Bowl-bound San Francisco 49ers.
3. New Orleans Saints 31, Minnesota Vikings 28 (NFC Championship Game)
Jan. 24, 2010 – New Orleans
The Vikings signed quarterback Brett Favre in the offseason, and he led the team to an NFC Championship Game meeting with the Saints. Although Minnesota outgained New Orleans in total yards 475 to 257, the Vikings also committed five turnovers and were tied 28-28 in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, Favre was leading the team on what would be the game-winning drive when Tracy Porter intercepted his pass in the final seconds of regulation. The Saints got the ball first in overtime and Garrett Hartley won the game with a 40-yard field goal. Two weeks later, New Orleans beat the Indianapolis Colts to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl.
2. Minnesota Vikings 32, New Orleans Saints 31
Dec. 15, 2002 – New Orleans
The Saints were 9-5 and would clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Vikings, who had lost 16 games in a row on the road. However, Minnesota led 24-23 late in the fourth quarter when New Orleans quarterback Aaron Brooks threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Deuce McAllister and then hit Joe Horn in the end zone for the two-point conversion. The Vikings scored when Daunte Culpepper threw a 13-yard scoring strike to Randy Moss in double coverage with five seconds left. Instead of kicking the extra point and sending the game into overtime, Minnesota went for two. Culpepper lined up in the shotgun formation and bobbled the snap before picking it up and bulldozing his way into the end zone for the win. The Saints lost to the Carolina Panthers the next week and missed the playoffs.
1. Minnesota Vikings 29, New Orleans Saints 24 (NFC Divisional Playoff)
Jan. 14, 2018 — Minneapolis
Minnesota jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but New Orleans’ offense began to click in the second half. Saints quarterback Drew Brees hit Alvin Kamara with a 14-yard touchdown pass to go up 21-20 with three minutes left in the game. The teams then traded field goals, and New Orleans took a 24-23 lead with 25 seconds to go. Facing third-and-10 on their own 39-yard line with 10 seconds on the clock, Vikings quarterback Case Keenum threw a pass to Stefon Diggs, who made a leaping catch on the right sideline. Saints safety Marcus Williams missed a tackle on him and ran into his teammate, and Diggs nearly lost his balance before standing upright and racing into the end zone as time expired. The "Minneapolis Miracle" marked the first time a playoff game has been won with a touchdown on the final play of regulation.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports' Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.
(Top photo courtesy of vikings.com)