About 37 years before Sunday’s “Minneapolis Miracle,” there was the “Miracle at the Met.”
Through nearly four decades, former Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer has seen Hail Mary passes succeed in a similar fashion as his 46-yard touchdown heave to Ahmad Rashad near the end of the 1980 season, clinching a playoff spot at old Metropolitan Stadium.
But not often for the Vikings, a franchise accustomed to hearing “curse” annually tied to its playoff hopes.
“Heh,” Kramer exclaimed in a phone conversation Wednesday. “Yeah, that’s for damn sure.”
Playoff demons were exorcised in an all-time classic, ending with receiver Stefon Diggs’ 61-yard touchdown catch-and-run and the first walk-off touchdown to ever end an NFL postseason game in regulation. Kramer watched the Vikings’ 29-24 NFC divisional victory over the Saints from Fargo, where he was making appearances and signing autographs.
Then the most improbable Vikings play happened since Kramer-to-Rashad clinched a playoff spot on Dec. 14, 1980.
“Oh, it was unbelievable,” Kramer said. “Diggs did a hell of a job keeping his balance.”
Circumstances of the two plays were eerily similar. Both drives started at their own 20-yard line (Sunday’s started with a false start) with less than half a minute remaining (25 seconds for these Vikings; 14 seconds for Kramer’s). Both offenses needed a touchdown to win the game and advance.
So does Case Keenum’s pass to Diggs stack up to the first Minneapolis miracle in a 28-23 victory over the Browns?
“I think so, especially because it’s a playoff game,” Kramer said. “Of course, the other one was, too, because we had to win it to get into the playoffs.”
After Diggs’ heroics on Sunday, Kramer posted to his Twitter account: “I think I speak on behalf of [Rashad] and myself, we will gladly take the number 2 spot.” Kramer isn’t selling short his Hail Mary toss, figuring it was the more difficult play of the two.
“Well, it’s tougher with a Hail Mary, I think,” Kramer said. “Because you know somebody can go up and hit the ball and knock it out of bounds or whatever. What [Diggs’] play is, it’s like a fly pattern and he went around and balanced himself out and ran it all the way in.”
Kramer had one more thought: He’d like to be watching the Vikings play in the first-ever home Super Bowl on Feb. 4, when he and three more former Vikings — Keith Millard, Robert Tate and Henry Thomas — host a Super Bowl watch party in Duluth at the Pier B Resort Hotel.
“Tell them to bring it on home to Minnesota,” Kramer said.