The Minneapolis Miracle (also known as the Minnesota Miracle) was the National Football Conference (NFC) divisional playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints on January 14, 2018, and specifically its final play. The game was played as part of the National Football League (NFL)'s 2017–18 playoffs.
The Saints came back from a 17–0 first-half deficit and established a 24–23 lead with 25 seconds remaining in the contest. On the last play of the game, Vikings quarterback Case Keenum threw a 27-yard pass to wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who evaded Saints safety Marcus Williams and ran to the end zone to complete the 61-yard touchdown pass. This game was the first in NFL playoff history to end in a touchdown as time expired.
In the aftermath, Keenum and Diggs were lauded for their efforts on the game-winning score, while Williams received criticism for his errant tackle attempt. The Vikings' radio call by Paul Allen – who described the play as a "Minneapolis Miracle" – went viral and became the popular appellation for both the play and the game itself. The play won multiple end-of-year awards and prompted a change to the rules.
|Date||January 14, 2018|
|Stadium||U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|Favorite||Vikings by 5.5|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews and Chris Myers|
Prior to the 2016 season, Minnesota's starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a non-contact injury that produced a dislocated knee, torn ACL and "other structural damage." The severity of the injury nearly cost Bridgewater his leg and compelled the Vikings to trade two draft picks to the Philadelphia Eagles for Sam Bradford as a replacement. The Vikings began 2016 with a 5–0 record before collapsing to finish 8–8.
The Saints, for their part, produced their third consecutive 7–9 showing in 2016, leading to rumors that they might fire or trade coach Sean Payton during the offseason. Despite the speculation to the contrary, Payton retained his position as the Saints' head coach for 2017, although five assistant coaches lost their jobs.
Minnesota entered the 2017 campaign with Bradford as its starting quarterback, as Bridgewater was still recovering from his knee injury. Bradford suffered a knee injury of his own in a week 1 game against the Saints, resulting in Case Keenum taking over at the quarterback position. Keenum subsequently led the Vikings to a 13–3 regular season record and the NFC North title for just the second time since 2009. Three Vikings scored eight touchdowns: running back Latavius Murray, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, and tight end Kyle Rudolph. Since the Vikings were the #2 seed in the NFC, they did not have to play during the NFL's Wild Card Weekend. The Viking's #2 seeding meant that U.S. Bank Stadium became the first Super Bowl host stadium (selected on May 20, 2014) to also host a Divisional Playoff Game in the same season; all previous times that the Super Bowl host stadium also hosted another postseason game that season were Wild Card Playoffs.
Despite an 0–2 start to 2017, New Orleans finished with an 11–5 record, thereby winning the NFC South and qualifying for the playoffs as the #4 seed. New Orleans' rookie running back Alvin Kamara won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award after earning 6.1 yards-per-carry and scoring 14 total touchdowns during the regular season. Veteran running back Mark Ingram also scored double-digit touchdowns (12), while second-year wide receiver Michael Thomas caught 104 passes for 1,245 yards and five touchdowns. In their Wild Card Weekend match-up against the Carolina Panthers, the Saints won, 31–26.
The two teams had already met once before during the 2017 season. In week 1 at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings beat the Saints, 29–19. The spread for the playoff match-up opened with the Vikings favored by 3.5 points. By game time, the betting line had risen to 5.5 points.
After holding New Orleans to a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, Minnesota went 55 yards in eight plays  and capped off the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run by running back Jerick McKinnon with 9:45 left in the first quarter. Roughly five minutes later in the quarter, a field goal by former Saints kicker Kai Forbath gave the hosts a 10–0 lead. Minnesota added to its lead on the first play of the second quarter on a one-yard score by running back Latavius Murray.
Meanwhile, the New Orleans offense struggled; Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw two interceptions and New Orleans did not complete a single third-down conversion during the first half. Of the Saints' six first-half drives (excluding the end-of-half kneel), two ended with turnovers, three ended with punts, and one ended with a missed 58-yard field goal attempt by kicker Wil Lutz. The Vikings entered halftime with a 17–0 lead. New Orleans had not failed to score in the first half of a game in over three years.
After halftime, the Saints' play improved. Minnesota's 11-play drive to start the third quarter stalled 10 yards into New Orleans territory at the 40-yard line, and a touchback by Vikings punter Ryan Quigley gave the Saints the ball starting at their own 20-yard line. A 12-play New Orleans drive culminated with 1:18 remaining in the third quarter, when Brees threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas to reduce the deficit to 17–7. After Saints safety Marcus Williams intercepted a pass by Case Keenum, Brees threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Thomas with 13:09 remaining in the fourth quarter to bring New Orleans within three. The Vikings responded with a 49-yard field goal by Forbath to increase their lead to 20–14.
With 3:01 left in the fourth quarter, the Saints took their first lead of the game, 21–20, on a 14-yard pass from Brees to running back Alvin Kamara on a wheel route. Forbath nailed a 53-yard field goal with 1:29 left in the game to give Minnesota a 23–21 lead. Brees responded by leading the Saints down the field in just 64 seconds, allowing Lutz to make a 43-yard field goal and take a 24–23 lead with 25 seconds remaining. Following the field goal, Saints coach Sean Payton mocked the Minnesota home crowd by imitating the Vikings fans' "Skol" clap.
After a touchback and a false start by the Vikings, Keenum threw a completed pass to Diggs to their own 39-yard line, then threw two straight incompletions to set up a third-and-10 with 10 seconds remaining in regulation. According to the ESPN win probability model, at this point in time the Vikings had just a four percent chance of winning the game.
|Sound FX: Diggs' Walkoff TD|
With 10 seconds left at their own 39-yard line, the Vikings ran a play titled "Buffalo Right, Seven Heaven." Each word in the play call designated a particular element of the formation or route design. "Buffalo Right" communicated that three receivers were in a bunch ("Buffalo") to the right of center. "Seven" routes are corner routes in which the pass-catchers run towards the sideline. The intent behind the play was to have a receiver catch the ball and then run out of bounds to stop the clock in time for Forbath to kick a field goal. Meanwhile, the Saints set up in an outside zone defense, which is designed to protect the sidelines and keep the offensive players from catching the ball and getting out of bounds.
Keenum took a shotgun snap with running back Jerick McKinnon to his left. Kyle Rudolph, the tight end, ran an out route underneath near the right sideline, while wide receiver Adam Thielen ran a comeback route near the left sideline. Wide receivers Jarius Wright and Stefon Diggs ran corner routes, or "seven" routes, to the right sideline. The offensive line and McKinnon, who was an extra blocker for this play, blocked the four Saints pass rushers. Keenum set his feet and threw a 27-yard pass to Diggs near the right sideline, who caught the ball at the Saints’ 34-yard line.
Because Keenum's pass was slightly high, Diggs had to leap into the air to make the catch. Attempting to make a diving tackle on the airborne Diggs, Saints' free safety Marcus Williams instead missed the Vikings' receiver and collided with cornerback Ken Crawley, knocking Crawley over and preventing him from having a chance to tackle Diggs. Upon returning to the ground, Diggs stumbled slightly but managed to regain his balance and stay in bounds with no Saints players nearby to tackle him. Although the original intent – and Diggs' first instinct – was for him to catch the ball and run out of bounds to set up a field goal attempt, Diggs, upon seeing that there were no Saints defenders between him and the end zone, immediately turned upfield and sprinted down the sideline for a touchdown as time expired. Accordingly, the game was the first in NFL playoff history to end in a touchdown as time expired.
Assuming the game was over, broadcast and stadium crew packed the field, and most Saints players left for the locker room. Eventually, both teams returned for the mandated conversion attempt. Only eight players – punter Thomas Morstead, wide receiver Austin Carr, defensive lineman Cameron Jordan, linebackers Manti Te'o and Gerald Hodges, and offensive linemen John Fullington, Josh LeRibeus and Larry Warford – took the field for the Saints on the final play; only three of them were defensive players. While a 15-yard excessive celebration penalty was to be assessed to Diggs for throwing his helmet, the penalty could only be enforced on a kickoff. Keenum led the stadium in a rendition of the Vikings' "Skol" clap and chant and knelt to end the game on the two-point conversion try. The kneel down also meant that the Vikings did not cover the 5.5-point spread.
In Minnesota, the game was broadcast on KFAN, with Paul Allen and Pete Bercich serving as announcers. As the Vikings players lined up for what would later be the last play of the game, Allen and Bercich called:
Allen's call of "Minneapolis Miracle" went viral and would later be widely used to refer to the game itself, including by the NFL's official Twitter account minutes after the game ended. Some outlets also employed the name "Minnesota Miracle." SB Nation writer Harry Lyles Jr. later characterized Allen's call as the "perfect" radio call for the play. ESPN Brazilian Portuguese-language broadcaster Romulo Mendonça also used the phrase Milagre em Minneapolis ("The Miracle in Minneapolis") during his live commentary.
NFL.com writer Marc Sessler and The Ringer writer Robert Mays, among others, quickly deemed the game an "instant classic", worthy of entry into NFL lore. Several commentators – including Mays and former Vikings general manager Jeff Diamond – described the game as ending the Vikings' history of postseason heartbreak. Keenum and Diggs earned widespread praise for their late-game heroics. Joe Buck later told Rich Eisen in an interview: "As far as football, it's probably number one for exciting moments that I've been a part of."
Meanwhile, Williams – who earlier intercepted Keenum to help get New Orleans back into the game – was widely criticized for diving at Diggs instead of waiting to tackle him in bounds. Some compared the mistake to Bill Buckner's infamous fielding error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.
With the win, the Vikings headed to Philadelphia to take on the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game. The Eagles beat the Vikings, 38–7, thus denying them the opportunity to become the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its home stadium. The Eagles went on to win Super Bowl LII, beating the New England Patriots, 41–33.
On January 15, the Vikings filed for trademarks on the phrases "Minneapolis Miracle" and "Minnesota Miracle" for use on over 100 items, from football helmets to bathing suits. At the 7th Annual NFL Honors, the Minneapolis Miracle won the NFL Play of the Year Award.
In March 2018, the NFL instituted a new rule that eliminated the requirement to kneel down or kick the point after following a game-ending touchdown that gives a team the victory (it is still allowed if needed). In the Minnesota Miracle game, no result of an extra-point play would have changed the game result (except for the score). The requirement had been in place because an extra-point play can affect point differential, and point differential is used as a tie-breaker for determining playoff seeding. However, there are many higher-ranked tie-breakers, so point differential is very unlikely to be used, and eliminating the anticlimax and confusion seen at the Minnesota Miracle game was deemed more important.
Keenum left the Vikings after the 2017–18 season and signed a two-year, $36 million contract with the Denver Broncos. The other two quarterbacks on the roster, Bradford and Bridgewater, also joined new teams in free agency. Bradford joined the Arizona Cardinals, while Bridgewater signed with the New York Jets before being traded to the Saints to back up Brees. To replace the departed trio, Minnesota signed Kirk Cousins to a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million contract. Meanwhile, Diggs received a five-year extension from the Vikings for $81 million.
During the 2018 offseason, Payton explained that he was using the play to motivate his players and himself. Payton also expressed regret about calling a draw play for Alvin Kamara on third-and-one on the Saints' final drive. He explained that the failure to convert – and thereby extend the drive – provided the Vikings with the opportunity to get one final possession after Wil Lutz's field goal. Had they gotten the first down, the Saints could have run down the clock to the point where they could have won the game with a walk off field goal. In an interview published days before the 2018 NFL season, Marcus Williams explained that he had made peace with his error and its consequences: "I don't think about what everyone else is saying. I just do me and play."
The starting lineups for the game were:
|Ted Ginn||WR||Adam Thielen|
|Terron Armstead||LT||Riley Reiff|
|Senio Kelemete||G/C||LG||Mike Remmers|
|Max Unger||C||Pat Elflein|
|Larry Warford||RG||Joe Berger|
|Ryan Ramczyk||RT||Rashod Hill|
|Michael Hoomanawanui||TE||Kyle Rudolph|
|Michael Thomas||WR||Stefon Diggs|
|Drew Brees||QB||Case Keenum|
|Mark Ingram||RB||Latavius Murray|
|Austin Carr||WR||TE||David Morgan|
|George Johnson||LDE||LE||Danielle Hunter|
|Sheldon Rankins||LDT||DT||Tom Johnson|
|Tyeler Davison||RDT||NT||Linval Joseph|
|Cameron Jordan||RDE||RE||Everson Griffen|
|Craig Robertson||WIL||MLB||Eric Kendricks|
|Manti Te'o||MLB||SLB||Anthony Barr|
|Jonathan Freeny||SAM||LCB||Trae Waynes|
|Ken Crawley||LCB||RCB||Xavier Rhodes|
|Vonn Bell||SS||CB||Terence Newman|
|Marcus Williams||FS||SS||Andrew Sendejo|
|Marshon Lattimore||RCB||FS||Harrison Smith|
The officials for the game were:
The Vikings began last season 5-0 before also finishing 8-8... Defensive end Brian Robison said the Vikings haven’t looked at the Falcons’ comeback for any addition motivation, but that their 2016 collapse has become a teaching moment.
Route 7 - Corner: Starting to reach the deeper routes now, the corner route is a out-breaking route that is run toward - get this - the corner. The route is often used to create space underneath by pulling the safety out of the middle of the field.
The so-called "Minneapolis Miracle" call has gone viral and Voice of the Vikings KFAN's Paul Allen spoke with MNN's Scott Peterson about how the call came to be, and what it felt like in the booth and in the stadium when the Vikings won in such dramatic fashion.
The "Minneapolis Miracle" rematch -- but this time with Kirk Cousins quarterbacking Minnesota.
The 2017 season was the Minnesota Vikings' 57th in the National Football League, and their fourth under head coach Mike Zimmer. With the team's home stadium, U.S. Bank Stadium, scheduled to host Super Bowl LII at the end of the season, the Vikings attempted to make history as the first team to play the Super Bowl on their home field; in recording their best regular season record since 1998, they clinched a first-round bye for the first time since 2009 and became the eighth team in the Super Bowl era to qualify for the playoffs in a season in which their stadium hosted the Super Bowl. They defeated the New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round 29–24 on a walk-off play referred to as the "Minneapolis Miracle", but lost 38–7 to the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.
This was the first season since 2006 without star running back Adrian Peterson on the roster, as he signed with the Saints via free agency during the offseason.2017–18 NFL playoffs
The 2017–18 NFL playoffs began on January 6, 2018, after the 2017 season, and concluded with Super Bowl LII on Sunday, February 4, 2018, when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
These playoffs were notable for several teams snapping long playoff droughts, as the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans each qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 1999, 2004, 2007, and 2008, respectively.
The playoffs were also notable for the Patriots reaching a seventh consecutive AFC Championship Game, extending their own NFL record. and the Eagles snapping a 57-year championship drought and claiming their first in the Super Bowl era.2018 ESPY Awards
The 2018 ESPY Awards were presented at the 26th annual ESPY Awards show, held on July 18, 2018 at 5 PM Pacific at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California and on television nationwide in the United States on ABC at 8 PM Eastern/7 PM Central. On May 22, 2018, it was announced that Danica Patrick will host the event, which made her the first woman to have hosted the show.2018 Kids' Choice Sports
The 5th Annual Kids' Choice Sports was held on July 19, 2018, at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, and was broadcast one day later on July 20 (originally scheduled to be broadcast on July 21, but was moved ahead by one day). Houston Rockets' point guard and former NBA All-Star MVP, Chris Paul hosted the show.2018 Minnesota Vikings season
The 2018 season was the Minnesota Vikings' 58th in the National Football League, their third playing their home games at U.S. Bank Stadium and their fifth under head coach Mike Zimmer.
Following a Week 8 loss to the New Orleans Saints, the team could no longer improve on their 13–3 record from the 2017 season, in which they won the NFC North division and reached the NFC Championship before losing to the eventual Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles.
With a 24–10 loss to the Bears in Week 17 (coupled with an Eagles win), the Vikings failed to qualify for the postseason for the second time in three years.7th Annual NFL Honors
The 7th Annual NFL Honors was an awards presentation by the National Football League that honored its best players from the 2017 NFL season. It was held on February 3, 2018 at 5:00 PM CT and pre-recorded for same-day broadcast on NBC in the United States at 9:00 PM/8:00 PM CT.Best Moment ESPY Award
The Best Moment ESPY Award has been conferred annually since 2001 on the moment or series of moments transpiring in a play in a single game or individual match or event, across a single regular season or playoff game, or across a season, irrespective of specific sport, contested, in all cases, professionally under the auspices of one of the four major North American leagues, collegiately under the auspices of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or internationally under the auspices of a sport federation, adjudged to the most remarkable or best in a given calendar year; the primary participant in the moment is generally regarded as the award's recipient.
Between 2001 and 2004, the award voting panel comprised variously fans; sportswriters and broadcasters, sports executives, and retired sportspersons, termed collectively experts; and ESPN personalities, but balloting thereafter has been exclusively by fans over the Internet from amongst choices selected by the ESPN Select Nominating Committee. In 2001, the ESPY Awards ceremony was conducted in February and awards conferred reflected performance and achievement over the twelve months previous to presentation; since 2002, awards have been presented in June to reflect performance and achievement also over a twelve-month period. There was no voting in 2015, 2016, and 2017, but the 2018 winner was determined by voting.Cameron Jordan
Cameron Tyler Jordan (born July 10, 1989) is an American football defensive end for the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at California, and was drafted by the Saints in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.Case Keenum
Casey Austin Keenum (born February 17, 1988) is an American football quarterback for the Washington Redskins of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for Houston, where he became the NCAA's all-time leader in total passing yards, touchdowns, and completions. In the 2008 college football season, Keenum ranked first nationally in total offense and second in total passing yards. During the 2011 season, Keenum became the Football Bowl Subdivision's all-time leader in total offense, as well as the all-time leader in total touchdown passes by an FBS quarterback. As a result of his on-field contributions to Houston's success, Keenum was named to several All-American lists. He is the only quarterback in Division I FBS football history to have passed for more than 5,000 yards in each of three seasons.
After being signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Keenum threw for 1,760 yards and 9 touchdowns in the eight games he started for the Texans, before being waived prior to the 2014 season. Keenum was then signed to the St. Louis Rams' practice squad. He re-signed with the Texans later in 2014. In 2015, the Rams traded a draft pick to the Texans for Keenum, where he played until signing as a free agent with the Minnesota Vikings in 2017. After starter Sam Bradford got injured, Keenum came in and had a career year, setting highs in starts, passing yards, completions and touchdowns. He led the Vikings to a 13-win regular season, followed by a last-second win over the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs; the Vikings lost in the next round to the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. In 2018, Keenum signed a two-year contract with the Denver Broncos, playing for them for one season before being traded to the Redskins in 2019.Marcus Williams (safety)
Marcus Alan Williams (born September 8, 1996) is an American football safety for the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Utah.Marshon Lattimore
Marshon Demond Lattimore (born May 20, 1996) is an American football cornerback for the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Ohio State, and was drafted by the Saints 11th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings are a professional American football team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings joined the National Football League (NFL) as an expansion team in 1960, and first took the field for the 1961 season. The team competes in the National Football Conference (NFC) North division.During the 1960s, the Vikings' record was typical for an expansion franchise, but improved over the course of the decade, resulting in a Central Division title in 1968. In 1969, their dominant defense led to the Vikings' league championship, the last NFL championship prior to the merger of the NFL with the AFL.
The team plays its home games at U.S. Bank Stadium in the Downtown East section of Minneapolis.Miracle at the Met
The Miracle at the Met refers to the Minnesota Vikings' comeback win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 15 of the 1980 NFL season. The Vikings trailed 23–9 in the fourth quarter, but won after Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer passed for two touchdowns to wide receiver Ahmad Rashad in the last two minutes, including a 46-yard Hail Mary pass caught with one hand on the last play of the game. The final play is also known as the "Miracle Catch." The Vikings won, 28–23.Miracle in Miami
The Miami Miracle, also known as the Miracle in Miami, was an American football play that took place at the end of a game on December 9, 2018, between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots. Down 33–28 with 7 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins completed a 17-yard pass and two lateral passes resulting in a 69-yard touchdown by running back Kenyan Drake. It is the first walk-off game-winning touchdown in NFL history to involve multiple lateral passes, and the first multi-lateral touchdown since the River City Relay in December 2003. After the game, the play was known by several names, most commonly the "Miami Miracle" and the "Miracle in Miami". The play went on to win the Bridgestone Performance Play of the Year Award at the 8th Annual NFL Honors Award Show on February 2.NFL's Greatest Games
NFL's Greatest Games is a series of television programs that air on NFL Network, ESPN and related networks. They are condensed versions of some of the most famous games in the history of the National Football League, using footage and sound captured by NFL Films, as well as original interviews. All installments produced before 2015 are 90 minutes in length, and are presented with a title in respect to the game being featured. Starting in 2015, new installments produced run for either 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or 90 minutes, and no longer have a title beyond the actual game itself that is featured.
The series began with Super Bowl III, the New York Jets' 16-7 upset of the Baltimore Colts. ESPN debuted the program in 1999, on the 30th anniversary of the original game. More telecasts followed in the ensuing months.
In 2007, NFL Network unveiled Super Bowl Classics, a version of this program using complete videotaped games.
The "NFL's Greatest Games" banner is also occasionally used for episodes of the 1970s public television series The Way It Was that covered classic NFL games prior to 1958.NFL Play of the Year Award
The NFL Play of the Year Award, presented as the Bridgestone Performance Play of the Year, is a National Football League award. It was first awarded in 2011, at the inaugural NFL Honors awards show. From 2012 onward, Bridgestone became the presenter of the award, which has since been annually presented at the NFL Honors.Paul Allen (sports commentator)
Paul Allen (Born January 6, 1966) is a sports commentator who calls play-by-play for the Minnesota Vikings on KFAN. He is the voice of the Minnesota Vikings Radio Network and Canterbury Park. Allen previously called horse races at different locations throughout the United States until he came to Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota in 1995. Allen was both criticized and praised by Viking fans for "ripping" into Brett Favre after he threw an interception in the 2009 NFC Championship game that ultimately kept them out of the Super Bowl. He coined the phrase "Minneapolis Miracle" when the Vikings beat the Saints with a last play touchdown in the playoffs on January 14, 2018. Allen is known for his over the top and emotional calls, such as the aforementioned 2009 NFC Championship, the 2003 Vikings vs Cardinals Regular Season Finale, and The 2015 Wildcard Playoff game between the Vikings and the Seahawks.!Quarterback kneel
In American football, a quarterback kneel, also called taking a knee, genuflect offense, or victory formation occurs when the quarterback immediately kneels to the ground, ending the play on contact, after receiving the snap. It is primarily used to run the clock down, either at the end of the first half or the game itself, in order to preserve a lead or a win. Although it generally results in a loss of a yard and uses up a down, it minimizes the risk of a fumble, which would give the other team a chance at recovering the ball.
The play is specifically designed so as to provide maximum deterrence against the defense seriously challenging for possession of the ball because every gridiron code enforces strict penalties for any rough play carrying on after the ball is dead, which in this play usually occurs a fraction of a second after the snap. Therefore, especially when the outcome of the game has been well decided, defenses will often give little resistance to the play as a matter of sportsmanship as well as to reduce the risk of injuries, penalties and possible supplemental discipline (the latter considerations being increasingly important as referees and leagues are becoming ever more stringent in enforcing increasingly severe penalties against perceived unnecessary roughness on quarterbacks and against headshots in general) on what is a relatively simple play. The quarterback is generally not touched and the act of intentionally taking the knee results in the play being over in all variations of the sport.
The formation offers maximum protection against a fumble; should the center-quarterback exchange result in a fumble, a running back is lined up on either side of the quarterback, both to recover any fumble and protect the vulnerable kneeling player from being injured by defensive players who get through the line. Also, a player is lined up directly behind the quarterback, often much farther than a typical tailback would line up. This player's responsibility is to tackle any defensive player who may recover a fumble and attempt to advance it. Because of this essentially "defensive" responsibility, the tailback in this formation may actually be a free safety or other defensive player who is adept at making tackles in the open field.
Even though the play itself takes very little time, the rules of American football dictate that it does not stop the game clock (as with any play where the ball carrier is tackled in bounds). With the 40-second play clock in the NFL and NCAA, along with the two-minute warning in the NFL, a team can run off over two minutes with three straight kneel-downs if the defensive team has no more timeouts. The winning team can storm the field if up to 40 seconds remains in the game (35 in Alliance of American Football), to let coaches shake hands with each other. (In the AAF, as many as three straight "victory formations" from 105 seconds left in regulation can be done.)
The play is often known as a "victory formation", as it is most often run by a winning team late in the game in order to preserve a victory. In the case of a close game, the winning team would be trying to avoid a turnover which might be the result of a more complex play. In the case of a more lopsided contest where the winning team's overall point differential has no prospect of affecting their playoff qualification prospects, the play can be run as a matter of sportsmanship (since the winning team foregoes the opportunity to run up the score) and to avoid further injuries and/or penalties. In terms of statistics, a kneel by the quarterback is typically recorded as a rushing attempt for −1 or −2 yards.
Other sports also use the term "victory formation" for a play designed only to run down the clock with little chance of injury, such as a Jammer in roller derby skating behind or only lightly challenging the pack while the final seconds of the bout tick down.
|Division championships (20)|
|Conference championships (4)|
|League championships (1)|
|Current league affiliations|
Championship seasons in bold
|Wild card berths (5)|
|Division championships (7)|
|Conference championships (1)|
|League championships (1)|
|Ring of Honor|
|Current league affiliations|
Championship seasons in bold
Website: Fox Sports - NFL News