Vikings, Jaguars advance with close victories
The Minnesota Vikings have advanced to the NFL championship game for the first time in eight years, while the Jacksonville Jaguars have earned their first AFC title game appearance since the 1999 season.
Case Keenum connected with Stefon Diggs for a 61-yard touchdown on the game's final play as the Vikings stunned the Saints 29-24 at Minneapolis. Keenum threw the game-winning pass near the sideline before Diggs wormed his way past the New Orleans defenders and into the end zone. It came 25 seconds after Wil Lutz nailed a 43-yard field goal that put the Saints ahead.
Both the Vikings and Saints lost two leads in the final 3:01. Alvin Kamara's 14-yard scoring grab put New Orleans ahead for the first time, but the Vikings went back on top when Kai Forbath drilled a 53-yard field goal with 1:29 to play. That was followed by Lutz's go-ahead field goal 64 seconds later.
Keenum was 25 of 40 passes for 318 yards, one TD and one interception as the Vikings moved within one victory of becoming the first team to host its own Super Bowl appearance.
Saints receiver Michael Thomas grabbed a pair of scoring strikes from Brees, who was 25 of 40 for 294 yards, three TDs and two interceptions.
Minnesota will travel to Philadelphia to face the Eagles next Sunday.
The Jaguars pulled off a surprise in Pittsburgh as rookie running back Leonard Fournette ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-42 victory over the second-seeded Steelers. Fournette had a pair of first-quarter scoring runs before his three-yard TD burst put the Jags ahead 35-21 with 10:34 remaining.
Blake Bortles threw for 214 yards, including a 14-yard scoring pass to fullback Tommy Bohanon that made it 42-28 with 4:19 left. Bortles had no interceptions and was sacked just twice for seven yards.
The Jaguars appeared poised for a rout when Telvin Smith returned a Ben Roethlisberger interception 50 yards for a TD that made it 28-7 late in the first half. But the Steelers wouldn't go away as Roethlisberger proceeded to throw four of his five scoring passes.
Roethlisberger passed for 469 yards, and Le'Veon Bell had 155 total yards and two touchdowns for the Steelers.
Bell's eight-yard scoring run brought Pittsburgh within 42-35 with 2:18 to go. But with two timeouts remaining and the two-minute warning coming up, the Steelers elected to go for an onside kick that backfired. The decision set up Josh Lambo's game-clinching field goal.
The Jaguars will take on the New England Patriots in Foxborough next Sunday.