Top 10 Opening Day Road Games In Vikings History


Well, hello there!  If it seems like it's only been a couple of days since I wrote something for this here site, that's because we have a wonderful editor feature at SB Nation that allows us to schedule when we want to post something.

See, I've been on vacation for the better part of the week to lovely Newport, Rhode Island, where I have seen Gilded Age mansion after Gilded Age Mansion.  Ah, the Gilded Age.  Holy crap, I wish I had been uber rich back then.  So I wrote those stadium pieces last weekend and programmed them to publish earlier this week, and have been closely following things with my SB Nation iPhone app., even while I was at the Brimfield, MA Antique Show today. 

In a driving rain. 

Did I mention all day?  And did I also mention that's where A&E sends talent scouts for "Hoarders"?

No worries, it paid off.  Got the wife a killer anniversary present, and right now kids, I am Numero Uno Husbando (that's Spanish for #1 husband, for those of you that are English restricted).

But I feel the need to write.  Why?  Well, because honestly, even though I've had a great time with the wife, those mansions are pretentious, tasteless, and fairly self indulgent, much like Packers fans, so even though it's late, and this is a borderline drunk post, I am dying to write something about Opening Day.

So let's look at the top 10 Opening Day road wins (in no particular order) for the Vikings in their history, shall we?

1963:  At San Francisco, 24-20.  This was the first ever opening day road win for the Minnesota Vikings.  Tommy Mason had 162 yards of total offense, and Fran Tarkenton was 20-29 for 262 yards and a score.  The win helped the Vikings finish at a 5-8-1 record, the best ever at that point for the fledgling franchise. 

1974:  At Green Bay, 32-17.  This was the heyday of the famed Purple People Eaters, as 1974 would see the Vikings make it all the way to Super Bowl VIII.  They got the season started off on the right foot at Lambeau by curb stomping the Packers, 32-17.  RB Chuck Foreman ran for three scores, and the Vikings defense forced four turnovers, one of which was a fumble return for a touchdown.  And any win over the Packers is a good thing.

1976:  At New Orleans, 40-9.  If 1974 was the heyday of the Purple People Eaters, this was The Last Hurrah.  1976 would mark the last Super Bowl appearance for the Beloved Purple, and in '76 they were a team on a mission from the word go.  Hank Stram's Saints were no match for the Vikings, as Fran Tarkenton scrambled for days in the backfield, and both Chuck Foreman and Brent McClanahan scored twice.  It was 30-3 at halftime, and the game wasn't that close.

1983:  At Cleveland 27-21.  Bud Grant's 'last' year.  In what was supposed to be legendary coach Bud Grant's last season, the Vikings went to Cleveland and beat the Browns 27-21.  The Vikings were transitioning away from The Purple People Eaters era, and were struggling to find themselves.  They had left Met Stadium for the Metrodome, and future Hall of Famers like Tarkenton, Alan Page, and Carl Eller were gone.  They had made the playoffs in the strike shortened 1982 season, but would only finish 8-8 this year.

1992:  At Green Bay, 23-20, OT.  New coach Dennis Green, with a shock treatment of 'let's cut a bunch of veterans in training camp' attitude, waltzed into Lambeau and stunned the Packers 23-20 in overtime.  It was another period of transition for the Vikes, as they were moving away from the talented but underachieving era of Jerry Burns, and Green put everyone on notice that there was a new sheriff in town.  It worked, as the Vikes would go on to win the NFC Central with an 11-5 record.

1997:  At Buffalo, 34-13.  This was Minnesota's biggest opening day win ever, and it seemed like a turning point for the franchise.  At the time, Buffalo was thought to be one of the better teams in the AFC, and although Jim Kelly had retired at the end of 1996, they still had a promising Todd Collins, Thurman Thomas, Eric Moulds, and Andre Reed.  Robert Smith ran for 169 yards, including a 68 yard TD run, Cris Carter had two TD's, and the Vikings rolled.

1999:  At Atlanta, 17-14.  Do we need to rehash 1998?  Good.  It was the rematch, although it really wasn't, because a true rematch would have been in the 1999 NFC championship, but you get the idea.  Anyways, both teams struggled and looked terrible, to be honest, but the Vikings gutted it out and got a big win against a jacked up Falcons team.

2003:  At Green Bay, 30-25.  This was the Grand Re-Opening Of The Hallowed Ground Of Blah Blah Blah, the unheralded Vikings went in there and pissed all over Green Bay's parade, and it was lovely.  The Packers were the defending NFC North champs, and the Vikings were in the middle of the Mike Tice mediocrity.  But Minnesota went up 27-3, and held off a 4th quarter Brett Favre comeback which was capped off by a Corey Chavous interception in the end zone.  It would help propel the Vikes to a 6-0 start.

2006:  At Washington, 19-16.  I have to be honest, I liked Brad Childress when he was first hired.  He was a no nonsense guy, and his first training camp was brutal.  It all seemed to pay off when the Vikings, a notoriously poor team on the road on grass, went to Washington and won with a noodle armed Brad Johnson.  The Vikes would start 4-2 but falter and finish 6-10.

2009:  At Cleveland, 34-20.  Ah, 2009.  Probably my favorite year as a Vikings fan, right behind 1998.  It was Favre's first year with the Vikes, and it was also Percy Harvin's first game with the team as well.  Granted, their careers had 17 years separation give or take, but whatever.  Favre hit Harvin for the rookie's first TD pass, but the star of the show was Adrian Peterson.  Peterson had 180 yards rushing and three TD's, and I wrote this after the game on my old blog, The Purple Buckeye:

Adrian Peterson will exit the game as the best running back to ever play the game. Just think if we still had Moss. Excuse me while I go cry a little. Both AP and Favre made a 'pick your poison' comment in the post game pressers. Put 8 in the box and AP will still get three or four yards, and give you a manageable down and distance. Put 6 or 7 in the box, and AP will embarrass you, especially if you try and arm tackle him. Give Favre two weeks to get his timing down with his receivers and nail down hot reads, my God...

It was a sneak preview of what turned out to be a great 2009 season.

What will 2011 hold?  Well, we have a new quarterback, a team that looks talented, but is unproven in a lot of ways, and a new coach that just gives you confidence as a fan.

I like their chances.

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