Tagged in: New Orleans Saints

Kirk Cousins delivers for Vikings in Overtime to pick up first playoff victory

It will be the Minnesota Vikings, and not the New Orleans Saints, moving on to the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs.

After letting the Saints to tie up the game late in the fourth, the Vikings were guided down the field by Cousins and stunned the home crowd with walk-off touchdown to Zach Rudolph.

Cousins, who has been criticized throughout his entire career–including during his tenure in the nation’s capital–for not being able to deliver when the team needs him most, booked the Vikings a trip to San Francisco for a date with Jimmy Garappolo and the San Francisco 49ers. 

The 31-year-old Cousins lost his only previous playoff start — during the 2015 campaign with the Washington Redskins — and came up short of a playoff berth in the Vikings’ final game last season.

He also struggled in a handful of other high-profile matchups in prime time in 2019, but he delivered in Minnesota’s first road playoff victory since Jan. 9, 2005, when the Vikings defeated the rival Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in the wild-card round.

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“I’m just happy we won,” Cousins said. “It was a great, great game, two good football teams.”

New Orleans fans surely begged to differ after seeing the NFC South champions’ season end in overtime at home for a second straight year.

The latest disappointing end for the Saints (13-4) came the year after they lost in the NFC championship game to the Los Angeles Rams in a matchup marred by blatant penalties not being called against the Rams late in regulation.

This time, replays on video boards showed a possible push-off by Rudolph against defensive back P.J. Williams moments before he jumped to snag the winning catch.

NFL president of officiating Al Riveron said the league reviewed numerous replay angles, and though officials saw contact by both players, “none of that contact rises to the level of a foul.”

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49ers improve 11-2 with road win over Saints

The Saints scored a go-ahead touchdown with 53 seconds remaining, the fourth lead change of the day, and had the 49ers on the ropes with a fourth-and-two with 39 seconds remaining.

But New Orleans missed on two two-point conversions, including one after their final touchdown, and the 49ers kicked the game-winning field goal on the final play.

Jimmy Garoppolo hit George Kittle on for a 39-yard gain on that fourth-and-two play, with C.J. Gardner-Johnson missing a tackle that would have ended the game. Marcus Williams added a facemask penalty at the end of the play. It set up San Francisco in field goal range.

Robbie Gould kicked a 30-yarder as time expired to give the 49ers a 48-46 victory in the game of the season in the NFL.

The teams combined for 94 points and 981 yards. The Saints punted once, threw an incompletion on a fake punt that they thought they should have gotten defensive holding and Alvin Kamara lost a fumble. The 49ers punted three times and Garoppolo threw an interception.

The 49ers, who lost a 20-17 heartbreaker to the Ravens on the final play last week, moved to 11-2. The Saints fell to 10-3.

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Tre’Quan Smith scored on an 18-yard pass from Drew Brees with 53 seconds left in what looked like it was going to be the game-winner, but Garoppolo and Gould had the last say.

Garoppolo finished 26-of-35 for 349 yards with four touchdowns and the interception. Brees went 29-of-40 for 349 yards and five touchdowns.

The 49ers picked up a key victory, in terms of their quest to win the NFC West and, potentially, gain home-field advantage in the playoffs.

The Seattle Seahawks entered the day with a 10-2 record but currently are listed atop the NFC West standings because of their head-to-head victory over the 49ers on Nov. 11.

The 49ers can clinch a playoff spot Sunday night with a Los Angeles Rams loss or tie against Seattle. They can take over the top spot in the NFC West — and best record in the NFC — with a Rams victory.

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Saints defeat Falcons to clinch third straight NFC South title

Taysom Hill blocked a punt to set up his 3-yard touchdown catch, later scored on a 30-yard run and the New Orleans Saints clinched their third straight NFC South title by defeating the Atlanta Falcons 26-18 on Thursday night.

With Julio Jones out due to a shoulder injury, the Falcons had too little offence to keep pace with Drew Brees and the Saints. Atlanta recovered two onside kicks in the closing minutes, including one with 1:54 remaining, to make things interesting.

Matt Ryan was sacked by Cameron Jordan on a fourth-down play from the New Orleans 44 with 38 seconds remaining. Ryan was sacked nine times, including four by Jordan.

The Saints (10-2) atoned for their 26-9 home loss to the Falcons on Nov. 10. It was the Saints’ only defeat in their last 10 games. The versatile Hill blocked Ryan Allen’s punt to end Atlanta’s first possession.

The Saints took over at the Falcons 30, and four plays later Hill scored his first touchdown on the short pass from Brees.

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Hill took a direct snap and ran 30 yards for his first rushing touchdown of the season to give New Orleans a 17-6 lead late in the first half.

The disappointing Falcons (3-9) solidified their hold on last place in the division with their second straight home defeat.

With Jones missing a game for the first time since 2016, and Atlanta tight ends Austin Hooper and Luke Stocker held out with injuries, Ryan had to look for new targets.

Ryan threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Russell Gage with less than four minutes remaining. Christian Blake had six catches for 57 yards.

The Saints return home to play San Francisco on Dec. 8. The Falcons play their fifth straight game against an NFC South rival when they face Carolina on Dec. 8. The Falcons defeated the Panthers 29-3 on Nov. 17.

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