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Vikings Flashback #2


Well, I did this last week with the San Francisco game, and I thought it was pretty good. . .so, since the Packers are probably the team that the Vikings have their most storied rivalry with, let's hit the Wayback Machine again and go back to another great moment in Vikings' history.

Some of the quotes in this particular installment of Vikings Flashback are taken from Todd Mishler's outstanding book Cold Wars: 40+ Years of Packer-Viking Rivalry.  If you're a Viking fan and don't own a copy of this book. . .well, I'll just say that you should.

The year was 1993. . .26 September 1993, to be precise.  Why do I know that?  Because that day is the day your humble blog writer here turned 17 years of age.  Unfortunately, living in a town with a population of 700 pretty much limited your options of what there was to do for your birthday, and it being on a Sunday limited things even further.  Hence, I spent this day where I spent the majority of my autumn Sunday afternoons. . .in the basement of my best friend's house, watching the Vikings with said best friend, his younger brother, and his dad.

The '93 season was fairly non-descript for both the Packers and the Vikings.  Both teams finished with 9-7 records, and both advanced to the NFC Playoffs. . .which, in '93, was simply another way of saying "the leadup to the inevitable Dallas/San Francisco NFC Championship Game."  But in terms of Viking/Packer games themselves, '93 provided one of the truly memorable moments in the history of the series.

The Vikings trailed 13-12, and started their final drive from their own 17-yard line with less than two minutes left on the clock and no timeouts remaining.  Needing a big play on 4th and 8 from the 19, quarterback Jim McMahon (yes, THAT Jim McMahon) found Cris Carter for a 19-yard gain to keep the Vikings' hopes alive.  A couple more completions, mixed in with three more incomplete passes, set up what turned out to be the decisive play.

Todd Mishler tells us. . .

Anthony Carter lined up wide to the left side, Cris Carter was in the slot on the right, and little-known rookie Eric Guliford was on the far right.  The play was designed for Anthony Carter to run 10 yards downfield and then across the middle.  Cris Carter ran a 20-yard down-and-out pattern to the right, while the 5-foot-8 Guliford, seeing his first action of the season, went straight down the right sideline as an anticipated decoy.

What was so amazing was that the Vikings had called the same thing two plays earlier.  Green Bay, in a 4-2-5 defense and playing a four-deep zone, had stopped it perfectly.  Buckley had followed Qadry Ismail on the deep route, while nickelback Corey Harris and safety (LeRoy) Butler had blanketed Cris Carter, who caught the pass out of bounds.

Ismail said later that he had told McMahon after the play that (Packers DB Terrell) Buckley didn't think the aging Brigham Young alumnus could throw deep.

McMahon proceeded to take the snap, roll out to the right, and throw what to this day is one of the ugliest damn passes I've ever seen down the right sideline. . .and right into the hands of a wide open Eric Guliford.  Honestly, I don't think there was anyone within 10 yards of him when he caught the football.  Guliford caught the ball at the 10-yard line, and got knocked out of bounds by a Packer DB at the 5 with :06 left on the clock.  Do-It-Yourself Network superstar Fuad Reveiz trotted out onto the field and nailed his fifth field goal of the day in six attempts and gave the Vikings a 15-13 victory over a stunned Green Bay team.

Buckley later made excuses for blowing the coverage, saying that he never said anything about McMahon's ability to throw the ball deep.  Buckley made a lot of excuses over the course of his career. . .largely to try to cover up the fact that he sucked with a capital SUCK.  That was the point where the few Packer fans that hadn't turned their backs on him at that point finally joined the rest of the crowd.

And in two years with the Minnesota Vikings, young Eric Guliford caught exactly one pass. . .the one that I detailed above.  One catch for 45 yards in two seasons in purple.  He went on to have a decent season in Carolina in 1995 (29 catches, 444 yards, 1 TD) and hang around for a couple of seasons after that, but he'll always be known for that one play.

Game preview coming up tomorrow.  Enjoy the rest of your Friday, folks!