The Saints tied the game with a field goal at the end of regulation, but Cousins clinched victory with a touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph in overtime to set up a Divisional Round showdown with the San Francisco 49ers.
Cousins completed 19 of his 31 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown, while running back Dalvin Cook played a key role with 94 rushing yards and two touchdowns from 28 carries.
Drew Brees went 26 of 33 for 208 yards, one touchdown and one interception, which was capitalised on by the Vikings in the first quarter.
Thielen Fumbles Ball on Opening Drive
Minnesota opted to receive the ball first and their game got off to the worst possible start. Adam Thielen fumbled the ball after a tackle from Janoris Jenkins. Von Bell swept up the loose ball to start the Saints’ first drive on the Vikings’ 37-yard line.
The Saints were unable to turn the turnover into a touchdown after Everson Griffen sacked Brees on third-and-goal. Wil Lutz kicked 29-yard field goal to put points on the board for the home side.
Cousins and the Vikings put together an 11-play 50-yard drive on their next possession, but also had to settle for a 43-yard field goal, from Dan Bailey.
The two teams were forced to punt the ball away on back-to-back possessions before Taysom Hill has the Superdome on their feet following an 11-yard run and then a 50-yard pass to Deonte Harris.
This set up Alvin Kamara to rush to the right and into the end zone from four yards to put the Saints back ahead after the offense went 70 yards in four plays.
Cook’s Rushing Touchdown Puts Vikings Ahead
Minnesota responded by putting together a long drive of their own. Cousins’s 13-yard pass to Rudolph was followed by a 22-yard dash from Cook to put the team into Saints territory.
The drive ended with the Vikings being held inside the red zone, with Bailey kicked a 21-yard field goal to make it 10-6 with just under three minutes remaining in the half.
Brees tried to respond with a big play down the field, but his receiver Ted Ginn was in double coverage and the pass was intercepted by Anthony Davis, who returned the ball 30 yards to the Saints’ 45-yard line.
Thielen’s 13-yard reception set up Cook’s five-yard touchdown run on the Vikings drive after the takeaway, which put them ahead for the first time in the game.
Harris’ terrific 54-yard kick-off return and a 20-yard reception from Michael Thomas set up the Saints field goal unit, but Lutz missed a 43-yard attempt and the Vikings were up 13-10 at the half.
Brees Finds Hill in the End Zone to Set Up Tense Finish
The first three drives of the second half resulted in punts before the Vikings opened up a 10-point lead. Stefon Diggs recorded his first reception before Cook rushed into the end zone with a one-yard touchdown run – his second score of the game.
After the two sides exchanged scoreless drives, Hill was involved in the heart of the action for the Saints, bringing in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Brees.
The Vikings punted on their next possession, but had the ball back six plays later after Danielle Hunter forced Brees to fumble the ball, which was recovered by Jalyn Holmes.
With time running out, the Saints were hoping that Brees would get one more chance. However, it was the Saints defense that thought they’d come up big when Bell forced a fumble and returned it for a touchdown, but after review, Cook’s knee was down before the ball came out.
Nevertheless, New Orleans did get the ball back after the Vikings punted and the Saints worked the ball down the field to set up Lutz, who kicked a 49-yard field goal to send it to overtime.
Cousins Connects with Rudolph for Touchdown in Overtime
Cousins threw a 43-yard pass to Thielen, which put the offense on the Saints’ two-yard line. The quarterback floated a pass to Rudolph at the back-right corner of the end zone for a game-winning touchdown.
The Vikings were the underdogs going into the game, but they left the crowd in the Superdome in shock after Rudolph’s score. Minnesota will travel to the west coast next Saturday to take on Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers.