With fewer than two minutes remaining, Kirk Cousins completed a pass to T.J. Hockenson for a gain of three yards.
U.S. Bank Stadium was virtually bereft of air when Hockenson was tackled.
The New York Giants won 31-24 after successfully forcing three kneel-downs.
For the first time this season, Minnesota lost their last game by a score of one, ending off head coach Kevin O’Connell’s first year.
Minnesota had been 11-0 in games decided by one score on the way to a 13-4 record that earned the Vikings the No. 3 seed, including a 27-24 win against New York on December 24.
The Giants finished the regular season with a 9-7-1 record and an 8-4-1 record in games decided by a single touchdown.
A Vikings squad that had won on the margins and executed multiple rallies for much of the season was down by seven, then 10 on two separate occasions before staging a comeback to tie the game at 24 with 12:34 left in the game.
New York replied with a 12-play drive that resulted in a fourth-and-1 convert that moved the ball to the Minnesota 5-yard line. The possession included a holding penalty on an incomplete pass as well as a penalty for improper contact.
After a series of exchanged possessions that ended in punts, Minnesota recovered possession of the ball at its 12-yard line with 2:56 remaining.
With a 13-yard pass to Hockenson, the Vikings subsequently advanced the ball to the Minnesota 46-yard line.
An incomplete pass to Adam Thielen was followed by a toss of two yards to Dalvin Cook before the two-minute warning.
Cor’Dale Flott intercepted a pass intended for K.J. Osborn down the middle on third-and-8, which came before the ball shy of the sticks that basically ended Minnesota’s season.
“I had to put the ball in play in order to go on because I thought I was going to lose my job. I just figured that because I can’t go down with a sack, I would kick it out to T.J “explained Cousins. “Even going back a few weeks, I just thought that missing the sticks wouldn’t be the end of the world since I had missed them a few different times during the game. If I didn’t throw it out there, I was probably going to collapse and take a sack because [he] didn’t have a chance to escape because of the obviously tight coverage.
O’Connell said that he was unable to get a good picture of whether the pocket had collapsed as he was viewing the routes down the field.
According to O’Connell, “the aim as a play caller is not to call a significant concept” when someone is short of sticks to gain, especially on fourth down. If you get the ball on third down, make the convert, and make it a fourth-and-2 or third, that’s OK. I want Kirk to take part, even if in retrospect it may have only required saying, “Hey, here’s where you want the ball to go.” I want him to be self-reliant and make discerning decisions “said O’Connell.
He stood there and tried to get the ball out of his hands all night long while moving our team about. Sadly, despite everything, we just weren’t able to get enough on the play. I blame the play call and myself more than anything else, despite the fact that we had a chance to score down the field. The guys out there can always profit from a good play.
Hockenson had a total of 10 catches for 129 yards to lead Minnesota. Cousins completed 31 of his 39 throws for 273 yards and two touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 112.9.
The Vikings have hosted two playoff games at U.S. Bank Stadium since it opened in 2016.
The Minneapolis Miracle became indelibly associated to the area, which was the first; nevertheless, the Vikings did not come to a similar conclusion five years and a day later.
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