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Breaking news and year-round coverage of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. Access Vikings is the Star Tribune's blog covering team news, rumors, games and all things purple.

Win puts Pat Shurmur head coaching sweepstakes on hold

Case Keenum’s improbable last-second touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs ushered the finality of a crushing playoff loss out of U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, and exchanged it for the jubilation of a season that moves closer to the Super Bowl.

For the man that called “Seven Heaven” — the play the Vikings used to engineer the winning touchdown — it meant his bid for a head coaching position will remain on hold.

Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur remains one of the top candidates for both the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants jobs, according to a league source. But with the Vikings advancing to the NFC Championship Game on Sunday in Philadelphia, those teams will have to wait until after that game if they’d like to talk with Shurmur a second time.

NFL rules require teams that are interested in coordinators from teams in the conference championship games to wait until after those games before conducting second interviews. That means the earliest Shurmur can talk to either the Cardinals or Giants a second time is a week from today — after the Vikings’ season ends in Philadelphia or during the bye week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl after the Vikings win the NFC title.

If the Vikings win in Philadelphia, the Giants and Cardinals would have to request the team’s permission for a second interview with Shurmur during the bye week, though that’s little more than a formality. The big question for Shurmur, as the Vikings keep playing, is whether those teams are willing to keep waiting for him. It’s reasonable to assume, at this point, that both teams are interested enough in Shurmur to keep their jobs open for another week — though a prolonged search certainly isn’t ideal, with the Senior Bowl two weeks away and the scouting combine at the beginning of March. Things can change quickly, and as the Vikings keep winning, their success adds another variable to Shurmur’s future (and possibly the future of a Vikings free agent-to-be like Case Keenum or Sam Bradford, who could go with Shurmur to a new team).

Shurmur said last week that coaches are masters of compartmentalization, and he’s undoubtedly focused on the task at hand, as the Vikings prepare to play the team that previously employed Shurmur. But there remains interest from the Cardinals and Giants, and the fact the Tennessee Titans job is open after the team parted with Mike Mularkey on Monday could further change the calculus, forcing another team to move quicker on another candidate if it’s worried about losing him to a playoff team with a young quarterback.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, another leading candidate to become a second-time head coach, is in the same boat as Shurmur, and Bob LaMonte — the agent for both coaches, as well as Vikings GM Rick Spielman — is well-acquainted with this part of the process, from his decades of guiding coaches through searches. The longer the Arizona and New York jobs remain open, though, it would stand to reason both teams are waiting to fill those jobs because they’re waiting for a coordinator like Shurmur or McDaniels.

That means the possibility of Shurmur leaving for another job remains very much alive, and discussions with potential suitors could heat up again soon.

Bradford active, will be Vikings' No. 2 QB vs. Saints

The last time the Vikings played the New Orleans Saints, Sam Bradford threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns, earning NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in a 29-19 win. If the Vikings need to turn to a second quarterback in their NFC divisional playoff game against the Saints on Sunday, they’ll put Bradford on the field for the first time since Oct. 9.

Bradford, who was activated from injured reserve on Saturday, will be the Vikings’ No. 2 quarterback on Sunday against the Saints. He’s practiced only six times since being placed on injured reserve on Nov. 8, and coach Mike Zimmer said Friday that Bradford “still has a long way to go.” Ultimately, though, the Vikings decided to make Bradford, not Teddy Bridgewater, their No. 2 quarterback.

Sources who were privy to the Vikings’ practices this week believed Bridgewater, not Bradford, would be the team’s backup on Sunday. Instead, Bridgewater, who started the Vikings’ most recent playoff game against the Seahawks in Jan. 2016, will watch their next one from the sideline. The Vikings had all four of their quarterbacks on the field for pregame warmups, putting Bridgewater through his full routine, but ultimately decided on Bradford.

The Vikings will also start Mike Remmers as their left guard and Rashod Hill as their right tackle, as it appeared they might do this week. Remmers is playing left guard after starting at right guard on Dec. 31 against the Chicago Bears, while the Vikings will trust Hill in pass protection at right tackle.

Here is the Vikings’ full list of inactives:

QB Teddy Bridgewater

QB Kyle Sloter

WR Stacy Coley

RB Mack Browns

G Danny Isidora

C Cornelius Edison

DE Tashawn Bower

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