‘Buffalo right, seven heaven’: The call that gave us one of the most dramatic endings in NFL history broken down

The Minnesota Miracle will be remembered for a long long time.....

You’ve seen it hundreds of times by now, and if you haven’t – what’s wrong with you? The Minnesota Vikings will host the Super Bowl this year, and thanks to one of the most incredible moments in NFL history – still have a chance to participate in it.

Down by one with only ten seconds left on the clock, the Vikes needed to get within field goal range for Kai Forbath. The problem was – they had no timeouts and they were parked on their own thirty-nine-yard line. Forbath’s career long is fifty-three yards. So, they had to get to the New Orleans thirty-six-yard line, conceivably.

Make no mistake, Mike Zimmer and co called the following to get within field goal range and nothing else. They needed a gain of twenty-five yards, but they also needed to stop the clock as there’s no way they would have had time to get to the ball to spike it themselves.

‘Buffalo right, seven heaven’ was the call.

Buffalo right, in Viking speak, is a formation that sees one receiver on the left flank, isolated. Two more on the right-hand-side, with a tight end on the end of the line of scrimmage and a running back running a standard check and release.

Seven heaven is probably a specifically-designed play for these situations where you run a ‘levels’ concept, or a ‘hi-lo’. Rudolph (blue) runs an out route, to clear the overtop for Wright (yellow) and Diggs (red).

The Saints know all they have to do is avoid penalties and keep any receiver in-bounds and they’ll have won the game. Keenum’s primary read will always be Stefon Diggs because he’s the player who’s deep enough to get them into field goal range. New Orleans are playing boundary or perimeter coverage – where they offer up the middle of the field and protect the sidelines. Each defender below is assigned a receiver for simplicity’s sake, but this play asks a defence to use their football IQ.

PJ Williams (blue) follows Kyle Rudolph on his ten-yard out. Ken Crawley (yellow) tracks Jarius Wright on his ‘seven’ or ‘out’ route, and Marcus Williams (red) reacts to Diggs’ deeper variation of the same route.

Marcus Williams got overly aggressive in a pre-season camp hosted by the Chargers. He hit a soon-to-be Hall of Fame tight end in Antonio Gates out of bounds and the Saints immediately saw a culture change on the back end of their defence. Williams had a good rookie year. But he probably should have refined his aggression in this case.

Keenum’s throw wasn’t close enough to the sideline. All Williams had to do was stand him up – and he had no chance of getting out of bounds. Instead, he went for the highlight reel play, and knocked his own defensive back out of the picture.

Diggs did the rest.

All punts lead to Minneapolis over at PaddyPower.com


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