The Minnesota Vikings, the cursed warriors of the NFL

The Minnesota Vikings, the cursed warriors of the NFL

The “Purple Cannibals”

Created in 1961, the Minnesota Vikings needed a few years to learn. Then from 1968 to 1978, they only missed the play-offs once. The team was then led by one of the most formidable defensive lines in NFL history: the defensive ends Carl Eller and Jim Marshall and the defensive tackles Alan Page and Gary Larsen.

With them, Minnesota ranked in the Top 3 best defenses of the season seven times. Page was even voted NFL MVP in 1971, a first for a defenseman. These four fellows were nicknamed the “Purple People Eaters” (the “Purple Cannibals”, in connection with the color of the team), and their motto was: ” We find ourselves in front of the quarterback “.

The Vikings also had a very good QB (Fran Tarkenton) and a reliable offense. But it wasn’t enough to win the Super Bowl. Minnesota missed its final against Kansas City (23-7) in 1970 and against Miami (24-7) in 1974, cracked late in the game against Pittsburgh (16-6) in 1975 and was crushed by Oakland (32 -14) in 1977.

An almost perfect 1998 season

In 1998, the Vikings had a fabulous offensive quartet, with quarterback Randall Cunningham (34 touchdown passes, the year he resumed his career, at 34), running back Robert Smith and two excellent receivers, veteran Cris Carter and nugget Randy Moss (21). There was also kicker Gary Anderson, who hadn’t missed a kick during the regular season.

Minnesota won 15 games and suffered only one loss. In the conference final, the Vikings faced the Atlanta Falcons and led 27-20 with two minutes left. Anderson came in to attempt a field goal, which could put Minnesota permanently out of reach of its opponent. But Gary Anderson missed his shot, his first failure of the season, 38 yards from the posts.

Atlanta then tied, which sent both teams into overtime. The Falcons scored first (30-27) and qualified for the Super Bowl. Two years later, Minnesota returned to the conference finals (with Daunte Culpepper as QB) and took a correction against the New York Giants (41-0).

Favre and Peterson close to the final

Brett Favre, the legendary quarterback of Green Bay, could not retire. He played for the NY Jets for a year and then signed for Minnesota in 2009 at age 40. The bet was daring. The Packers and Vikings were fierce rivals. In Minnesota, alongside Favre was Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s top runner the previous season.

With these two gems, the Vikings had their best season in 10 years with 12 wins and four losses. They discovered a talented receiver, in the person of Sidney Rice (1312 yards). That year, Favre and Rice were All-Stars and Peterson, All Pro.

In the play-offs, the Vikings knocked out the Cowboys (34-3) then faced the New Orleans Saints in the conference final. As in 1998, it was a kicking affair. Both teams went into overtime. New Orleans had the first opportunity to score a field goal and did not miss his chance (31-28).

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