In one of the most shocking endings in playoff history, the Vikings
pulled off a 61-yard touchdown pass on the final play for a
miraculous 29-24 victory over the Saints to secure a trip to the
NFC championship game. Stefon Diggs hauled in Case Keenum's pass
along the sideline at the 34 and somehow completely avoided a
tackle by rookie safety Marcus Williams and ran untouched into the
end zone to send Minnesota to Philadelphia for its first NFC title
game since 2009. The game saw several lead changes down the
stretch, with the Saints going up 24-23 on Wil Lutz's 43-yard field
goal with 25 seconds remaining.
The Jaguars are moving on to the AFC championship game for the
third time in franchise history after stunning the Steelers in a
wild 45-42 win at Heinz Field. Jacksonville raced out to a 21-0
lead early in the second quarter, partially thanks to a Ben
Roethlisberger interception, then returned a Roethlisberger fumble
50 yards for a touchdown. Pittsburgh pulled to within a touchdown
early in the third and twice in the fourth, but didn't get closer
until the game's final play. Roethlisberger threw for 469 yards and
five TDs while trying to play catch-up, but Blake Bortles was
efficient and Leonard Fournette ran for 109 yards and three
touchdowns despite missing some time with an ankle injury.
Jacksonville will visit the Patriots next week as it looks to go to
the Super Bowl for the first time.
Ben Roethlisberger says he'll return in 2018. After saying last
offseason he was contemplating retirement, the Steelers quarterback
got out in front of a similar situation when questioned after his
team's loss to Jacksonville. "I have a desire to play football,"
Roethlisberger said. "I don't know about (player) contracts, who's
coming back, but I know the guys up front are, and that makes it
good for me. And I look forward to next year with those guys."
ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that the Lions are likely to hire
Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as their new head
coach. Patricia, one of six candidates who were known to have
interviewed for the Lions' position, has a strong relationship with
Detroit general manager Bob Quinn, the Patriots' former director of
pro scouting. The Lions will have to wait until after New England's
playoff run before working on contract details with Patricia. The
Patriots will host the AFC title game next weekend.
The Bills have hired former Alabama offensive coordinator Brian
Daboll to fill that some role for an offense that ranked 29th in
yards per game in 2017. Daboll, who spent one season with the
national champion Crimson Tide, replaces Rick Dennison, whom the
Bills fired last week after one season. Daboll previously was the
offensive coordinator of the Browns, Dolphins and Chiefs, and spent
two stints as an assistant with the Patriots.
Titans right tackle Jack Conklin has been diagnosed with a torn
left ACL after exiting Saturday's 35-14 playoff loss to the
Patriots in the first quarter. Conklin, a first team All-Pro
selection as a rookie in 2016, is expected to begin next summer's
training camp on the physically unable to perform list and may not
be ready for the start of the regular season.