We're into the second half of the 30 Day Challenge, and it's once again time to go back into your memory banks to talk about the history of the Minnesota Vikings. Today's topic is this:
Of all the Vikings teams you've watched over your time of being a fan, which team was your favorite?
Now, I'm sure that some of our older fans will be able to look back and talk about some of the Vikings' Super Bowl teams and some of the other teams of the Bud Grant era. However, only having been a fan since 1984, I missed out on all of that. In my opinion, there have been two truly memorable teams during my time of being a fan. . .the 1998 team and the 2009 team. And while the 2009 team was fun because of the Zombie Favre angle and everything that happened with that team, the 1998 team is easily my favorite team.
Just think back to how talented that offense was. They put up 69 points in the first two games of the season with Brad Johnson at quarterback (31 in Week 1 against Tampa Bay and 38 in Week 2 against St. Louis) and when he went down, Randall Cunningham came in and had a renaissance the likes of which we hadn't seen up to that point. Of course, with the array of targets he had to throw to, it shouldn't have been that surprising.
Consider this. . .in the four years leading up to 1998, Jake Reed was averaging exactly 1,200 yards a season and was coming off of four straight 1,000-yard seasons. Thanks to Randy Moss, Reed was a third option and wound up with the fourth-most receiving yards on the roster (behind Moss, Cris Carter, and underrated tight end Andrew Glover). Throw in Robert Smith running wild with nearly 1,200 yards, and it gave the Vikings an outstanding offensive balance.
Of course, none of that would have been possible without one of the better offensive lines in Vikings history. Todd Steussie, Randall McDaniel, Jeff Christy, David Dixon, and Korey Stringer were opening those holes for Smith and giving Johnson, Cunningham, and even Jay Fiedler (who saw time in some blowouts as the third stringer) all the time they needed to move the ball down the field. It all led to what was, at that time, the highest-scoring offense in NFL history.
The defense held up their end of the bargain fairly well, too. They weren't on the level of the Purple People Eaters or anything, but really. . .who is? John Randle led the way on defense with 10.5 sacks, Derrick Alexander managed 7.5 sacks, and Ed McDaniel picked up 7 sacks from the middle linebacker position. With teams often playing from behind, the team collected 19 interceptions, including seven for Jimmy Hitchcock (who returned three of them for scores).
The 1998 team wasn't just winning games. . .they were crushing people. Of their 15 regular season victories, only three of them were decided by less than ten points (a three-point win over Chicago and seven-point victories over St. Louis and New Orleans). They had a four-week stretch in late November/early December where they averaged. . .averaged. . .45.5 points a game. It was fun to watch as a fan, that's for sure.
Naturally, they came up short of the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl, but hey. . .every Vikings' team of my lifetime has come up short of the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl. But as a fan, my fondest memories come from that 1998 season for the most part, and that's why the 1998 team is my favorite Vikings team of all time.
What Vikings' team is your favorite, folks?