When I was but a lad, the word "sickest" had a slightly different meaning than it has today. Back then, "sickest" simply meant something like who had the worst cold or who was throwing up the most or things that had to do with actual, honest-to-goodness sickness. But today, "sick" is actually used just as often to talk about positive things, and in this installment of "Who Powered Through" (sponsored by Vicks), we'll see many examples of this.
To give us a bit of a walk down memory lane, I've found five of the "sickest" plays in Vikings history for everyone to look at (if they've never seen them before) or to reminisce about if you've seen them a ton of times before. Now, this is no means the definitive list or anything. . .think of it as more or less a starting point for debate about this particular subject. With that, here we go!
14 December 1980 - The Miracle At Metropolitan Stadium
I almost feel bad about putting this one in here, because it's a two-play sequence rather than one particular play, but really. . .you can't discuss one without the other.
Against the Cleveland Browns in the second-to-last game of the 1980 NFL season, the Vikings found themselves trailing 23-9 early in the fourth quarter of play. Starting on their next drive, Tommy Kramer led the Vikings on a furious comeback, finding Ted Brown on a 7-yard touchdown pass and connecting with Ahmad Rashad from 12 yards out to make the score 23-22. With a mere 14 seconds remaining in the ball game, the Vikings found themselves at their own 20-yard line with no time outs left, trailing by one point. From there, we got what may have been the most extraordinary two-play sequence in Minnesota Vikings history.
Kramer dropped back to pass and fired one over the middle of the field. . .remember, Minnesota had no time outs. . .and hit tight end Joe Senser. Before Senser could be taken to the turf, he pitched the ball back to streaking running back Ted Brown, who took off downfield and ran out of bounds at the Cleveland 46-yard line with five seconds remaining on the clock, a gain of 34 yards. After regrouping, the Vikings came out in a similar formation, with three players deployed on the right-hand side of the formation. If you listen to the announcers, they figure that the Vikings would simply try to hit a 15 to 20 yard pass, get out of bounds, and bring kicker Rick Danmeier in for a field goal attempt to win the game. But, you know, that just wasn't Tommy Kramer's style.
Kramer dropped back to pass, knew that time was running out, and launched one down the right sideline towards his group of receivers. The ball tipped off of the fingers of wide receiver Sammy White and into the hands of Rashad at the 2-yard line, and he backed into the end zone from there to give the Vikings an improbable 28-23 victory and Bud Grant's 11th NFC Central Division title.
More "sick" plays after the jump.
12 October 1997 - Brad Johnson With A Touchdown Pass To. . .Brad Johnson
I believe that this is still the only instance in NFL history of a player throwing a touchdown pass to himself. (It's number nine on the list in the video above. . .I couldn't find a stand-alone one of the play.)
Really, the description doesn't need a heck of a lot else. Brad Johnson dropped back to pass against the Panthers, had his pass deflected by defensive lineman Greg Kragen, and caught the ball on the deflection. From there, he puts together a couple of nifty moves. . .well, as nifty as Brad Johnson was capable of, anyway. . .and the result was, indeed, a three-yard touchdown pass from Brad Johnson to Brad Johnson.
30 November 2008 - The Longest Play In Viking History
Again, this one is more part of a sequence.
The Bears and Vikings came into this one in a dogfight for the NFC North division, and the Vikings were trailing 7-3 early as a result of a Devin Hester touchdown on a slant on Chicago's opening drive. As we approached the mid-point of the second quarter, Chicago's Matt Forte took a handoff and looked certain to get into the end zone, but a great hustle play by Madieu Williams. . .yes, that Madieu Williams. . .knocked Forte out of bounds at the 1-yard line. After a first down pass by Kyle Orton fell incomplete, the Vikings stoned Forte on second down, stopped fullback Jason Davis on third down, and shut down Forte again on fourth down to stop the Chicago drive and take over inside their own 1.
What happened next was incredible. Gus Frerotte, rather than turning and handing the ball to Adrian Peterson or Chester Taylor to attempt to give the Vikings some space, dropped deep into the end zone to pass. Bears cornerback Charles Tillman. . .whose reputation as a great defensive player is, still, largely based on his making one good play against Randy Moss back in 2004. . .thought it would be wise to drift to the inside and head off tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, leaving Bernard Berrian to streak down the left sideline with nobody within ten yards of him. Frerotte saw him, lofted one deep, and Berrian caught it in stride, leaving Tillman in his wake as he went into the end zone for the eleventh 99-yard touchdown pass in NFL history.
It seems weird to think back to a time when 99% of the Vikings' fan base didn't want Bernard Berrian cut, doesn't it?
13 September 2009 - Move One Side, And Let The Man Go Through
There are touchdown runs. . .and then there are touchdown runs.
On a day where all the hype was surrounding the Vikings' new quarterback. . .we'll get to him in a minute. . .Adrian Peterson felt compelled to remind everyone who was carrying the Vikings before the new guy got there. With the Vikings leading 27-13 in the fourth quarter, the Vikings turned to Peterson to put things away, and that's just what he did. Taking a handoff and getting a very nice block from Sidney Rice, he took off, faking out a couple of guys and landing an amazing right cross to the helmet of Browns' defensive back Eric Wright that put him clear into the sidelines. Sixty-four yards later, the Vikings had a 34-13 lead, and Peterson had established himself once again. . .in case there had ever been any doubt. . .as the NFL's best running back.
27 September 2009 - OH MY HEAVENS!
So there's this guy, right? That guy that we all hated when he played for Green Bay and have put aside that hatred for now that he's seen the light and come to play for the good guys? (Well, we put it aside, but apparently the ingrates that he led out of the darkness seem to have had no problem picking it up.) Yeah. . .Brett Favre gave the Minnesota Vikings and their fans a 2009 season to remember, and this play was the first indicator that we might have had a good thing going that season. I really don't need to add anything to Paul Allen's call of this one. . .it's that good.
I know I've left a lot of plays out, and I'm also sure that Randy Moss could have a whole post of plays like this by himself. But there you have it. . .five plays that are among the sickest in the history of the Minnesota Vikings.
Feel free to discuss these plays and other "sick" plays from Viking history here.