The Vikings had other plans. They ran the ball often and well, led by Dalvin Cook, who was 94 yards in a hurry and two touchdowns. Their running game helped keep the Saints' offenses from coming into play and enabled the cousins to find open recipients, especially Thielen, who got seven passes for 129 meters.
At the same time, the Viking defense prevented the saints' greatest offensive weapons. The races completed 26 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown. But in the second quarter, he threw an interception that the Vikings later turned into a touchdown and fiddled with the ball, while in the fourth quarter he was released less than five minutes before the end so the Vikings could burn the time.
Alvin Kamara, the explosive return of the saints, was only 21 meters in hurry and 34 meters in reception. Saints recipient, Michael Thomas, who received an N.F.L.record of 149 passes this season, had seven receptions for just 70 yards. Wil Lutz, the team's reliable kicker, missed a field goal attempt of 43 meters shortly before the end of the first half.
"We just couldn't get offended," said Jared Cook. "We didn't do our job."
Nevertheless, the Saints found life in the fourth quarter after 20-10. Brees completed passes to multiple recipients on the team's opening ride of the quarter. From the shotgun, he threw a touchdown score of 20 yards on Taysom Hill, a replacement quarterback, which was also used as a halfback and receiver in certain packages.
Brees got back to work in less than two minutes, completing the passes for Kamara, Cook and Thomas. A false start penalty against the Saints eased 10 seconds after the time and forced them to score a game-winning field goal in second and 15th place, instead of having an additional chance of trying a game-decisive touchdown.
The Vikings won the coin toss in the extension and under N.F.L. Rules: If a team scores a touchdown on the opening drive, the game ends. Cousins finally had a big moment. He hit Cook and Diggs – the hero two years ago – before seeing Thielen open the field for a 43-yard completion. In the last game, Rudolph seemed to push his defender into the end zone before he got the winning pass. No offensive passport malfunction was called, and a video check confirmed the call in the field.
"It's a customs game, and today we found those customs," said Cousins.
After the game, Al Riveron, the head of N.F.L. said both players had contacted them, but none of it rose to the level of a violation.