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Former Terp Stefon Diggs plays hero in Vikings' miracle playoff win

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Former Terp Stefon Diggs plays hero in Vikings' miracle playoff win

MINNEAPOLIS -- There wasn't much left for Case Keenum to do but to fling the ball deep and hope for a miracle.

Miracle answered.

Keenum completed a last-ditch heave near the sideline Sunday on the game's final play, and Stefon Diggs slithered away for a 61-yard touchdown to give Minnesota a 29-24 victory over New Orleans and send the Vikings to the NFC championship game, with one more win needed to become a first-time Super Bowl host.

Drew Brees had driven the Saints in position for Wil Lutz's go-ahead 43-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining, punctuating a steely rally from a 17-point deficit that stood until 1:16 was left in the third quarter.

The Vikings were out of timeouts and nearly out of options when Keenum dropped back with 10 seconds to go from his 39 and threw high into a crowd. Diggs jumped in front of Marcus Williams, who rolled awkwardly underneath Diggs during an ill-fated attempt at a tackle.

Diggs held his ground, kept his feet in bounds and raced untouched into the end zone as the crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium erupted.

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"I'm just thankful," Diggs said. "They count us out all the time. Nobody thinking we can do it. This game was over. I don't stop playing till the clock hit zero. That's it."

This wasn't quite Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception for Pittsburgh in the 1972 playoffs, but these Vikings are on some kind of special path. They finished 13-3 during the regular season, giving the career backup Keenum the keys to the offense after Sam Bradford went down with a knee injury after the opener.

The Vikings will play at Philadelphia next weekend, after Jacksonville takes on New England for the AFC title. The Super Bowl is in Minnesota two weeks later.

"A heck of a game, wasn't it?" coach Mike Zimmer said. "And the good guys won."

Now the Vikings have spun an unprecedented scenario in NFL history. Next weekend, instead of the usual win-or-go-home stakes, they're in a win-and-go-home situation with the Super Bowl set for Feb. 4 under the reverberating translucent roof of U.S. Bank Stadium.

Though only defensive end Brian Robison remains from the 2009 team that lost in overtime of the NFC championship game at New Orleans, the Vikings exacted some revenge on Brees and the Saints, at least for their long-frustrated fans.

They put them through quite the emotional finish to complete it.

Brees connected with Michael Thomas for two of his three touchdown passes in a span of 3:09 of the second half. The first score came after a 12-play, 80-yard drive. The second was set up at the Minnesota 40 by an interception by Williams after an off-balance throw by Keenum, his one costly moment of either inexperience or recklessness.

When George Johnson blocked Ryan Quigley's punt, the Saints took over at the Vikings 40. Four plays later, rookie Alvin Kamara, whose breakout was a major factor in the team's NFC South title and breakthrough from three straight 7-9 finishes, caught a 14-yard pass from Brees for a 21-20 lead with 3:01 left.

Forbath's 53-yard field goal, his third make of the evening against his former team, gave the Vikings their lead back with 1:29 left. That was more than enough time for Brees, the sure-bet Hall of Famer with a Super Bowl ring and all kinds of records.

But after Brees got Lutz in position, there were just enough seconds remaining for Keenum -- the undrafted and undersized all-time leading passer in NCAA history at Houston whose first career playoff start ended in spectacular fashion. He finished with 318 yards, going 25 for 40, with Diggs catching 137 yards on six catches.

"This will take a while to get over," said Payton, who fell to 1-5 on the road in playoff games.

Brees saw his 13th career postseason game end in a crushing final moment, his 25-for-40 performance for 294 yards tainted a bit by two interceptions before halftime. One came on a leaping grab by safety Andrew Sendejo, the other off a tip by Everson Griffen that landed in Anthony Barr's arms at the Minnesota 10-yard line midway through the third quarter.

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Maryland signs four-star DeMatha safety Nick Cross

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Maryland signs four-star DeMatha safety Nick Cross

Terps head coach Mike Lockley’s "DMV to UMD" movement keeps growing stronger: DeMatha Catholic High School safety Nick Cross decommitted from Florida State to sign with the Terps, the school announced on Tuesday.

Cross, a four-star recruit, clocked a 40 in 4.48 seconds.

He verbally committed to the Seminoles in September and had offers from 34 schools, including Notre Dame, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. He officially visited Florida State, Florida, Auburn,  Alabama and Penn State, and unofficially toured Georgia Tech. 

Locksley was Cross’ main recruiter at Alabama when he officially visited in June back when Locksley was still the Tide’s offensive coordinator. He was a familiar face with an established relationship when Cross came to College Park, just a few miles down Route 1 from DeMatha. 

247Sports ranked Cross the nation’s fourth best safety and No. 50 recruit overall. 

The All-American is joining 10 DeMatha alumni returning to Locksley’s team. All were coached by DeMatha head coach Elijah Brooks who just became Maryland’s running backs coach.

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Maryland football player hospitalized after falling sick during team workout

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Maryland football player hospitalized after falling sick during team workout

A University of Maryland football player, who got sick during a team workout on Tuesday afternoon, was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore as a precaution after he got sick during a team workout, as first reported by the Baltimore Sun’s Don Markus. 

Raymond Boone, a defensive back from Greenbelt, Tweeted about his to his hospital departure on Wednesday: 

“A student-athlete was transported to the hospital for precautionary measures during an afternoon workout on Tuesday, February 5th,” Jennings wrote in a statement first obtained by the Sun. “The student was accompanied to the hospital by our medical training staff and team physician, and was released the following day.”

This incident occurred 11 months after Jordan McNair died two weeks after suffering a heat stroke during a team conditioning test on May 29. Since this event, former head coach D.J. Durkin was fired in November, the day following his reinstatement after McNair’s death. Current head coach Michael Locksley was hired in December.

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