Minnesota Vikings: One year after the Minneapolis Miracle

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Stefon Diggs
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Stefon Diggs /

One of the greatest plays in the history of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates its first anniversary on Monday, but did the Vikings squander their best opportunity to get to the Super Bowl?

There are certain moments that one will remember for the rest of their lives. For some people, that may be the day they got married. For others, it might be the day their first child was born.

For myself, there is only one day that I believe deserves the title of the happiest day of my life.

January 14, 2018: The Minneapolis Miracle.

Sitting — standing, actually — in the stands that January evening, I went from a feeling of despair to pure euphoria with one Case Keenum throw to Stefon Diggs.

The 61-yard, walk-off touchdown not only put the Minnesota Vikings ahead of the New Orleans Saints, it seemingly washed away decades of bad vibes for a franchise that hadn’t been to the Super Bowl since 1977.

One 38-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship later, the Vikings were back to square one. Still, there was a bit of optimism stemming from that play and with a couple of key free-agent acquisitions (Kirk Cousins, Sheldon Richardson), many Minnesota fans felt that 2018 was their year.

One year after the miracle, the Vikings sat at home during the playoffs. With an 8-7-1 record, Minnesota now has a lot more questions than they did this time a year ago.

One of the biggest questions is whether or not the Vikings’ window of opportunity slammed shut by failing to capitalize on the most shocking play in franchise history.

Looking back at the 2017 season, the stars seemed aligned for Minnesota to end their Super Bowl drought (if not win the whole thing). The NFL represented a demolition derby with quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Carson Wentz out for the season due to injury.

With the second seed in the NFC, a win over the Saints could have meant they would host the entire playoffs including the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium — an ultimate dream for any contending team.

With that opportunity in front of them, it proved to be too perfect of a storm. With the majority of the Vikings’ roster in their prime, a lot of the young players that their rivals possessed had gained a year of experience while Minnesota got older.

Teams like New Orleans, Los Angeles and Chicago made huge leaps with their rosters and the Vikings just didn’t have the killer instinct that they had a year ago.

The Vikings also suffered the usual “brain drain” that comes with being a successful team with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur leaving to become the head coach of the New York Giants. With the improv of Keenum being replaced by the panic of Cousins in the pocket, Minnesota couldn’t keep up with their improved counterparts in 2018.

As the Vikings head into this offseason, it’s fair to wonder if they can fix their deficiencies in time to keep up with the teams that have passed them.

Offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski will have to revamp the offense that struggled in the second half and head coach Mike Zimmer will have to find a way to motivate his defense to get back to where they were in 2017.

In addition, Minnesota will have several key cogs pushing toward the wrong side of 30 come Week 1 including Everson Griffen (32), Cousins (31), Riley Reiff (31), Linval Joseph (31), Kyle Rudolph (30) and Harrison Smith (30). If the Vikings can get younger and solve their issues, the Super Bowl window may still be open.

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Otherwise, the play that brought so much joy may just be a distant memory.