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NFC Playoff Race: Vikings help out Seahawks with 14-9 win over Falcons

Minnesota Vikings v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks now have a huge opportunity to get themselves into at least a wild card spot, as the Atlanta Falcons were held out of the end zone by the stifling defense of Mike Zimmer’s Minnesota Vikings. Case Keenum threw two touchdowns, including the game-winner to Kyle Rudolph to lead the 10-2 Vikes to a 14-9 win over the defending NFC champions.

Faced with 4th and 4 at Minnesota’s 27 with five minutes to go, Dan Quinn elected to kick a 44-yard field goal, which Matt Bryant pushed to the left. They could’ve gone for it considering they were down to two timeouts, but Quinn gambled on his offense getting another possession.

Narrator’s voice: They did not get the ball back.

Case Keenum found Rudolph for 16 yards on the first play of Minnesota’s final drive, and then for reasons I cannot understand, Quinn opted to use his remaining timeouts on Minnesota’s next two plays. Atlanta was out of timeouts with 3:59 to go, and when Adam Thielen humiliated C.J. Goodwin for 21 very disrespectful yards on 3rd and 4, the Falcons were in deep trouble. Two Latavius Murray runs netted 11 yards, and obviously with no way to stop the clock, Minnesota knelt three times after the two-minute warning and got out of Atlanta with the W.

This is the third week in a row that the Vikings have helped the Seahawks by beating either a division rival (Rams) or a wild card rival (Lions, Falcons). Seattle failed to capitalize when the Vikes beat the Rams, so hopefully they don’t waste this golden opportunity when they play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football.

Speaking of the Lions, Detroit was thrashed by the Baltimore Ravens today, and Matthew Stafford injured his right hand. They no longer figure to be a threat to anyone, and in fact it’s not inconceivable that they finish behind the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North, despite Aaron Rodgers missing most of the season.

Seattle can get even better news if the Arizona Cardinals can upset the Los Angeles Rams in the late-game window.