The Minnesota Vikings took the field on Sunday knowing exactly what had to be done to clinch the final Wild Card spot in the NFC. They controlled their own destiny. Win or go home.
Their opponent: the Green Bay Packers, who had plenty of postseason implications riding on the game as well. With a win, Green Bay would clinch the No. 2 overall spot in the NFC, guaranteeing them a bye and a spot in the Divisional round of the postseason.
Add a fierce divisional rivalry into that mix, and the result was a game as hyped up as any regular season matchup this year.
It did not disappoint, and perhaps warrants the categorization of "instant classic". Adrian Peterson ran wild, Aaron Rodgers staged a comeback, Christian Ponder proved his naysayers wrong, Packers coach Mike McCarthy almost gave away a touchdown with a challenge flag gaffe and, eventually, Blair Walsh punched Minnesota's ticket into the postseason with a game-winning 29-yard field goal.Writes Christopher Gates of SB Nation's Minnesota Vikings blog, The Daily Norseman, "holy hell, folks, the Minnesota Vikings are in the NFL playoffs."
What an amazing, incredible football game we just witnessed. Obviously, from the perspective of Vikings fans, pretty much everything about this game was incredible, but it's hard to attempt to verbalize it so soon after the fact. . .
The Minnesota Vikings didn't "back into" the 2012 NFL playoffs. They took that spot. . .they earned that spot.
Gates' shock and jubilation perfectly reflects the thoughts of a fanbase only one year removed from an atrocious 3-13 season.
The Vikings and Packers face-off again Saturday night in the Wild Card round of the postseason.