The Minnesota Vikings produced another wild card weekend surprise as they earned a dramatic 26-20 overtime victory over the well-fancied New Orleans Saints.
The wild card weekend has produced more close games than ever before and again it went down to the wire as the Saints had to kick a last-second field goal just to force overtime at the Superdome.
New Orleans went 13-3 in the regular season and were close to being the top seeds in the NFC so went into the game at home as big favourites against the Vikings, who finished behind Green Bay in the NFC North division.
Veteran Saints quarterback Drew Brees was largely shackled by the Vikings defence, while the highly-paid but under achieving Kirk Cousins finally delivered on the big stage as the Minnesota QB hit Kyle Rudolph with the winning touchdown through in overtime.
It capped a stunning final drive by Cousins who marched his side down the field to earn the very first play-off win over his career, and the first post-season win on the road for the Vikings in 16 years.
Running back Dalvin Cook also starred for the men in purple, rushing for 94 yards and scoring two touchdowns as Minnesota booked a date with the San Francisco 49ers in California next Saturday.
New Orleans had been prolific scorers towards the end of the season, but Minnesota executed their gameplan superbly, dominating possession and not allowing Brees and company to make too many big plays, while also earning two turnovers to New Orleans' one.
The Saints' back-up quarterback Taysom Hill provided them with an offensive spark, both when running and passing from under centre and also as a reciving option - as he caught Brees' only touchdown of the game.
NFL play-off schedule/results bracket 2019/20
Saturday January 4 (AFC)
- Buffalo Bills (5) 19-22 Houston Texans (4) 9.35pm
- Tennessee Titans (6) 20-13 New England Patriots (3) 1.15am (Sun)
Sunday January 5 (NFC)
- Minnesota Vikings (6) 26-20 New Orleans Saints (3) 6.05pm
- Seattle Seahawks (5) @ Philadelphia Eagles (4) 9.40pm
Saturday January 11
- Minnesota Vikings @ San Francisco 49ers 9.35pm
- Tennessee Titans @ Baltimore Ravens 1.15am (Sun)
Sunday January 12
- Houston Texans @ Kansas City Chiefs 8.05pm
- TBC @ Green Bay Packers 11.40pm
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