In anticipation of yet another season, why not reminisce? What are your top 10 moments -- single-play moments of jaw-dropping, fist pumping, screaming laughter and pure exhilaration -- in Vikings' history? Just for fun, here are some candidates:
10. Page lateral. I don't recall the year -- it was the late 60's, and I was a child -- but it was a very snowy field and I think the Vikes were playing the Lions. The Purple People Eaters were dominating the game. Page (I think) picked up a fumble, lumbered down the snow-covered field, got tackled, lateraled the abll to another DL (Marshall?), who ran the ball in for a defensive score. The dominance, the snow-covered field, the pure joy of the play. Hard to forget, but I am as a I get older (maybe it was Page who received the lateral?...)
9. Blocked Field Goal against the Rams. Again, I can only vaguely recall this play now, and the details are fuzzy. I think it was against the Rams in a playoff game in early 70's, and the Rams were kicking a gimme field goal (within 20 yards) in the 2d half, and I think it may have been Bobby Bryant, but I don't really remember, who picked up the blocked field goal and returned it for TD. Talk about a game-changer!
8. Winfield Hat Trick. Last year against the Panthers. Winfield blitzes, crunches the QB from his blind side, picks up the fumble and returns it 20+ yards for the score. Watching it live was a Zen-like moment. You could see it all unfolding before your eyes -- almost in slow-motion -- hoping that Winfield would get there before the QB released the ball. And then, the total payoff. Hard to think of a Viking more deserving of such big play glory than Winfield. Sack, fumble, return for a TD. Total dominance -- by a CB no less -- at a time in the game (and season) when the team desparately needed it.
7. AC's Punt Return. Against the favored Saints in the Playoffs, on a day in which the smallest the guy on the field seemingly single handedly took over the game and produced the upset in 1987. Among a day of several incredible plays, this punt return was the clincher. Total dominance by a paper thin acrobat in a game played by giants. WOW.
6. Rashad's Hail Mary Catch. 1981? Last game of regular season, Vikes needed a win to make the playoffs. 4th quarter, less than 20 seconds to go, Vikes have no timeouts and need to go 70+ some yards for a TD to win. After an incredible hook-and-lateral play gets them to midfield, somebody (Kramer?) heaves the Hail Mary into the corner at the goal line, the ball is batted, and Rashad hauls it in with one hand and falls backwards across the goal line for the win. Last Vikings game I watched with my Dad before he passed away.
5. "Randy Moss, You Have Arrived!" On Monday Night in the rain in Lambeau in 1998, Moss goes deep, leaps a foot higher than multple defenders draped all over him, hauls the wet ball in, the defenders fall ti the ground, and Moss bolts for the TD. Again, a display of total dominance, one that portended the greatness to come. Perfectly punctuated by Dierdorf's exclamation at the end of the instant replay.
4. Smith torches the Bears. Robert Smith Again on Monday Night, this time against the Bears at Soldier Field, a rookie named Robert Smith takes a routine handoff and goes through the line -- either through the 4 hole or off-tackle, I can't recall, and immediately faces the bears LB about to smack him 3 yards passed the line. Smith stops and cuts 90 degress to the left simultaneously, and runs parallel with thegoal line from the middle of the field to the sideline, outrunning the entire Bears defense with pure speed, and the turns it up field for a 50-yard TD. Finding the hole and gettting through it, the cut, the blazing speed on wet natural grass, AGAINST THE BEARS ON MONDAY NIGHT! The only thing missing was Dierdof yelling, Robert Smith, You Have Arrived. But that was what I was thinking at the time. A jaw-dropping run.
3 . Moss torches the Pack in the Playoffs. 2004-05. As i mentioned in a comment I posted yesterday, this was one of the most momentous and heroic plays in Vikings history. 4th Q, Vikings trailing, Moss limited by a painful sprained ankle, he beats the Packers secondary with his deceptive speed (even with a bum ankle!) down the right sideline, hauls in the pass and wins the playoff game -- at Lambeau! But for Moss' controversial personality, this would be remembered by the national media as one of the greatest individual plays by an NFL player ever -- beating the team's arch rival. At their stadium. In the playoffs. Late in the 4th Q. With dominating speed, on a bum ankle. Alas, the historic aspect of the play was eclipsed by Moss' decision to moon the Packers' fans in the endzone in celebration, which is all anyone could talk about it afterwards. (It was up to Tony Dungy to explain the hilarity of Moss' stunt to the world, but by then it was too late). But the play itself, as it unfolded, was incredible, given the circumstances.
2. Moss torches the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Again in that incredible 1998 season, Moss showed his total dominance over the mere mortals on the other side of the ball, but when that happens against those dam# Cowboys on Thanksgiving, it just feels SO GOOD! The flea-flicker, Moss waits for it as the pathetic DB's try to get back to him, catches it, moves ever so fluidly as the DBs fall over themselves and Moss non-chalantly skips into the end zone, causing Jerry Jones to choke on his turkey leg. Again, endless laughter in total amazement.
1. Peterson torches the Bears. Oct 14th, 2007, at Soldier Field, on a day when AD "arrives" and torches the Bears for 224 yards and 3 long TD runs, the clincher was in the 2d half. After breaking a 67-yarder and a 73-yarder in the first half against the hopelessly overmatched Bears defense, Peterson shows the most explosive combination of power and speed I have ever seen in the second half on a routine run to the left off-tackle and just blows by the entire Bears defense, seemingly stuck in cement, for a 35-yard score to seal the win. The first 2 TD's were maybe more impressive, but that is what made the 3rd so exhilirating. What made it seem so unbelievable was not just the dominance, the power and the speed -- it was the 3rd time THAT game he had done it to the Bears. It was like the whole Bears defense was on the mat, imitating Duran: "No mas!" I laughed for 5 minutes in amazement.
With the exception of the blocked field goal against the Rams and Rashad's Hail Mary catch (which were so memorable because they were so stunning), the common elements of all these single moments in Vikings history is the sheer dominance displayed byt he players who made the plays -- dominance that was so exciting both because the play was so huge and because it left you feeling that they could do it again, repeatedly, because they were so much better than everyone else. It makes every play, every game after that exciting to watch. What are they going to do THIS time!