MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings haven’t won a Super Bowl. They’ve lost their last six NFC Championship games. They’ve only delivered hope, not the Lombardi Trophy.
Still, in their never-ending quest for a Super Bowl victory and their 51 playoff games in 60 seasons, last-second plays produced touchdowns, players produced memories.
At times, the play of the Vikings mirrors the climate we live in — extremes. The bad, the good and the wildly incomprehensible. Concluding the series on top Vikings moments, here’s how our readers ranked the top highlights in franchise history.
During a two-week stretch this fall, readers across Forum Communications’ websites ranked their top moments from a pre-selected list of 17 compiled by our sports reporters.
As we get rolling, the Minneapolis Miracle, itself in its own right named the ninth-greatest play in NFL history, is our fans’ No. 1 moment.
1. Minneapolis Miracle
In the 2017 season when the Vikings placed temporary fixes at key positions, oddly the pieces fit enough to produce 11 victories in its last dozen regular-season games. So bring on the New Orleans Saints, for a NFC divisional playoff game, in a 2017 season where the Super Bowl would be held on the Vikings’ own turf.
But nothing comes easy for Minnesota; most times it follows script: Good start, disastrous finish. The Vikings blew a 17-point halftime lead and the Saints marched to a 43-yard field goal and a 24-23 lead with 25 seconds to go, after which Saints head coach Sean Payton mocked fans with his own “Skol” clap with victory apparently in hand.
But when Stefon Diggs caught Case Keenum’s third-and-a-prayer pass at the sideline, Saints cornerback Marcus Williams whiffed, leaving Diggs a chance to collect his footing and sprint 34 yards to the end zone.
“The most improbable play came at the most improbable time from the most improbable franchise. Keenum to Diggs will live forever. There were fans crying inside the stadium,” Forum News Service’s Mike McFeely wrote in his column from the game.
“It’s a turning point for us,” Diggs said. “People doubt us; they say history repeats itself. This isn’t a case of that.”
The name and highlight spread like wildfire after the “It's a Minneapolis Miracle!” call by Paul Allen, the team’s radio voice.
The 61-yard game-winning completion was the No. 1 pick among 40% of our voters.
2. A super Super Bowl run
From 1974 to 1977, the Vikings compiled a 45-10 regular-season record with three Super Bowl appearances. They became the first team to play in four Super Bowls, a fifth likely thwarted by Dallas in a 1975 divisional playoff game
The Vikings have never scored in the first half of any Super Bowl, losing to Miami 24-7, Pittsburgh 16-6 and Oakland 32-14 during this four-year stretch. The Super Bowl run was the top pick of 24% of our readers who ranked their top 10.
“We could have won every one of those games if we played it the next day,” coach Bud Grant told the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 2018.
Kids these days don’t know how good prime Adrian Peterson was pic.twitter.com/yruTCw8CCW— Football Analysis (@FBallAnalysis) November 4, 2020
3. AP breaks rushing record
The San Diego Chargers led the Vikings 14-7 at halftime of a game at the Metrodome on Nov. 4, 2007. Adrian Peterson had mostly been held in check in the first half, generating just 43 rushing yards, including a 1-yard TD run. At halftime, Peterson said he told his linemen that he could have rushed for 150 in the first half. “It’s almost there,” he told them.
It was there in the second half.
Peterson was all but unstoppable in the second half, rushing for 253 yards, including TD runs of 64 and 46 yards, in two quarters and finishing the game with an NFL single-game record 296 yards on 30 carries, against a Chargers team that advanced to the AFC Championship Game that season.
Two years later, Cleveland’s Jerome Harrison ran for 286 yards in a game, but Peterson still holds the NFL record.
4. Alan Page wins MVP
Alan Page, one-fourth of “The Purple People Eaters” defensive line, racked up 173 sacks (a stat that became official a year after his 1981 retirement) in his 15-year career.
In 1971, Page won the first NFL defensive player of the year award and became the first defensive player to win the NFL MVP award. Only Lawrence Taylor in 1986 has earned that honor.
Page helped lead a 1971 defense that allowed league-lows in points scored (139), net yards gained per passing attempt (4.2) and rushing touchdowns (2).
He recovered three fumbles that season and recorded two tackles for safeties.
5. ‘Miracle at the Met’
Tommy Kramer’s 46-yard Hail Mary that bounced into the left hand of Ahmad Rashad at Metropolitan Stadium on Dec. 14, 1980 capped off a furious rally against Cleveland that sealed a 28-23 win and the NFC Central title.
While much has been made of the play called “Squadron Right, Squadron Fly,” that play was just one of many to help Minnesota overcome a 23-9 deficit in the fourth quarter.
“When I saw everyone go to the ball I stopped, at that point, the ball bounced over and got a chance to get a hand on it and backed into the end zone,” Rashad said in a postgame interview with KSTP-TV.
The play was listed at No. 78 on the NFL’s 100 Greatest Plays series.
6. Here’s Randy
The bright lights of Monday Night Football brought out the best in Randy Moss in this 1998 Week 5 matchup in a battle of unbeatens at Lambeau Field.
Coming into the game with 17 receptions, 271 yards and four touchdowns, the rookie from Marshall put on a show against Green Bay. He finished with five receptions, 190 yards and two scores.
“Randy Moss is the best young receiver that I have seen, maybe ever,” ABC broadcaster Dan Dierdorf said after Moss outjumped cornerback Tyrone Williams for a 52-yard TD from Randall Cunningham.
Moss also outdueled Williams in the end zone for a 44-yard TD in the fourth quarter.
Happy 60th Anthony Carter.— Old Time Football (@Ol_TimeFootball) September 17, 2020
In the 1987 Divisional vs the #49ers Carter was in a stratosphere all his own setting a playoff record with 227 yards in a 36-24 upset over San Francisco.#Skol pic.twitter.com/oI3MvrPWCV
7. AC torches 49ers
In a game Steve Young replaced Joe Montana, the San Francisco 49ers defense was left perplexed as Minnesota wide receiver Anthony Carter stole the show in this 1987 NFC divisional round upset.
Carter racked up 227 yards on 10 catches, ran a sweep for 30 more and returned two punts for 21 yards as the Viking stunned the 49ers on the road 36-24.
Seventy-six percent of quarterback Wade Wilson’s yardage were piled up by Carter.
“Anthony Carter's a great player," Vikings head coach Jerry Burns told NBC Sports after the game. "Obviously, he was stunned by the comparison all the time with Jerry Rice. I have nothing but accolades for Rice, he's a great football player, but so is Anthony Carter."
8. Favre magic
Vikings fans were still becoming accustomed to Brett Favre being their quarterback on Sept. 27, 2009. They’d seen him perform miraculous comebacks more than once while playing against their favorite team, but on that day in 2009, Vikings fans learned to stick with Favre until the clock runs out.
Fans began filing out of the Metrodome before Minnesota took possession late in the fourth quarter trailing 24-20. Favre drove the Vikings to the 49ers’ 32 with 12 seconds to go. Out of timeouts, it was TD or bust for the Vikings, who went to a four-receiver set, thus bringing seldom-used Greg Lewis into the game.
Favre was pressured after the snap, so Lewis began running across the back of the end zone toward the far corner. Favre didn’t know who he was throwing to, he just threw a line drive on a rope to a spot. Lewis leaped, grabbed the ball and somehow got both feet down inbounds.
The fans remaining in the Metrodome erupted. Brett Favre was officially a Viking.
9. An NFL championship
In what might be the next best thing to a Super Bowl victory, the 1969 Minnesota Vikings won the last NFL Championship against the Cleveland Browns. Ten percent of our readers surveyed said this was the top moment in franchise history.
At a frigid Met Stadium, the 27-7 victory made the Vikings the first expansion team which entered during the AFL era to win the title.
Joe Kapp threw for 169 yards and a score and Dave Osborne piled up 108 yards on the ground.
The historic season ended the next week when Kansas City upset the Vikings in the Super Bowl.
10. Moss shows up Dallas
The Vikings were 10-1 on Thanksgiving Day 1998, coming off a 28-14 win at home four days earlier against rival Green Bay, as they headed to Dallas to face the Cowboys.
Vikings rookie receiver Randy Moss was passed over by 19 teams in that year’s NFL Draft, including the Dallas Cowboys. Moss did not forget that fact on this day.
He only caught three passes on this Thanksgiving Day, but he turned them all into highlights. All three of his catches went for touchdowns, totalling 163 yards. He nearly outran at least one of Randall Cunningham’s passes, too.
It was one of four 100-yard games for Moss that season, as he finished the year with 69 catches for 1,313 yards and 17 TDs.