Sean Payton Was Spooked by Memories of the Vikings

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports.

The Buffalo Bills gift-wrapped a victory for the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football, turning the football over four times and getting flagged for too many men on the field when Broncos kicker Will Lutz missed an initial game-winning field goal.

Sean Payton Was Spooked by Memories of the Vikings

Denver climbed to 4-5 after defeating the buffoonish Bills, holding a 5.9% chance of reaching the playoffs, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI). Next up, the Broncos host the Minnesota Vikings this weekend on Sunday Night Football.

Sean Payton Was Spooked
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

And interestingly, Payton had Vikings on the brain Monday night, but not for the reason one might imagine. No, Payton wasn’t looking ahead to Week 11, but he did remember the 2017 playoffs when his team at the time, the New Orleans Saints, lost to the Vikings in a game coined The Minneapolis Miracle.

To avoid a repeat, Payton did not call a timeout on the game’s final field goal, which ultimately gave Denver the win, and he claimed he didn’t want a redux of the 2017 NFC Divisional Playoff game.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports.

Denver Gazette‘s Chris Tomasson, who formerly covered the Vikings for the Pioneer Press, tweeted Tuesday after the Broncos win, “Broncos coach Sean Payton on not wanting to leave any time at the end last night for a possible Stefon Diggs catch made reference to the Minneapolis Miracle when he was Saints coach vs. Vikings in 2017 playoffs. Said he didn’t want that same receiver to beat him.”

For added bad nostalgia, Diggs plays for the Bills, so the very same man was on the other side of the field, apparently haunting Payton to some extent.

Stefon Diggs
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

On January 14, 2018, Diggs hauled in a pass from Vikings quarterback Case Keenum on the game’s final play, mind-bogglingly slipping two tackles, and scored from 61 yards out, walking off Payton’s Saints and propelling Minnesota to the 2017 NFC Championship.

Payton infamously taunted Vikings fans before the play with a skol chant, evidently a bad-karma business decision that bit the head coach in the keester minutes later.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

But because Payton left nothing to chance — especially with Diggs on the other team — Denver escaped Buffalo with a win and renewed sense of playoff purpose, albeit a mathematical longshot.

Payton’s Broncos host those same Vikings this Sunday night and are favored by 2.5 points to win. Minnesota hasn’t won a game at Denver since 1999, the brief Jeff George era at quarterback.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by