NEW ORLEANS — Antoine Winfield: Mr. Big Play.
Winfield changed the momentum of a game for the second time in the past three games. Just as he did against Carolina, he made big plays that helped the Vikings get a win. This time, Winfield returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown, the first in team history for the Vikings.
He also sacked New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, stripped him of the ball and gave his team the ball deep in Saints territory, setting up another touchdown.
Winfield's big plays were a big boost on a night when the Vikings' offense struggled much of the game. Minnesota was able to win 30-27.
Winfield made his first big play when the Vikings were trailing 7-0 in the first quarter and the Saints were moving the ball well on offense early.
Martin Gramatica's 46-yard field goal attempt was blocked when Kevin Williams got a hand on the ball.
"I heard the block, I looked up and the ball was in the air," Winfield said. "I caught it and ran as fast as I could to the end zone."
Winfield was coming off the edge on the play to try to block the field goal. He didn't have to because Williams got a good push up the middle.
After he caught the ball, Winfield didn't have a doubt he would score.
"I'm gone," Winfield said of what he was thinking. "I was looking at the scoreboard and looking at the Jumbotron. I didn't see anyone behind me."
At the beginning of the second quarter, Winfield made a difference again.
Winfield slammed into Brees, who wasn't able to see him coming. He pulled the ball away from Brees and advanced it 9 yards down to the New Orleans 5. Winfield was credited with a forced fumble and fumble recovery along with the sack on the play.
That set up a 4-yard touchdown pass from Chester Taylor to Visanthe Shiancoe that put Minnesota ahead 17-10 with 13:26 left in the second.
"We played a Cover-2 (defense)," Winfield said. "Something we picked up in film study where they had a max set, two tight ends to my side. Usually the outside tight end, he looks at me, if I'm not coming, he goes inside. So I faked a little bit and took off running after the quarterback."
Winfield scored a touchdown in Week 3 against Carolina when he sacked quarterback Jake Delhomme, forced a fumble, recovered it and returned it to the end zone at the end of the first half. That changed the momentum and tied the score, helping the Vikings to their first win of the season.