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30 Day Challenge, Day 6: What's Your Most Painful Minnesota Vikings Memory?

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Today's topic for the 30 Day Challenge is one that fans of the Minnesota Vikings have a lot of experience with, so I'm guessing we're going to get a lot of varied answers. Because, as fans of this team, we're used to getting kicked in the proverbial teeth more than our fair share of times, today's topic is this:

What is your most painful Minnesota Vikings memory? For this one, I'm going to give an answer that I suspect a lot of you are going to give as well.

The date was 17 January 1999. Yours truly was a 22-year old Airman First Class, fresh out of tech school and newly arrived at my first assignment in the United Kingdom. After watching the Vikings hammer the Arizona Cardinals in the Divisional playoffs, I was getting settled in to watch the NFC Championship Game between the Vikings and the Atlanta Falcons. I turned on AFN and was getting ready to watch my favorite team go to the Super Bowl for the first time that I'd actually be able to remember.

(Point of reference. . .the last time the Minnesota Vikings were actually in the Super Bowl, I was not quite four months old. I didn't care quite as much then.)

I was quite happy to tell pretty much anyone that would listen that I was a Vikings fan, and was quite confident that they were going to get the job done that year. Of course, I'm like that for at least a portion of every season, but anyway. Things were going wonderfully for a while there, and then late in the fourth quarter, nursing a 27-20 lead, the Vikings called on kicker Gary Anderson. The same Gary Anderson that, as the announcers seemed to be very happy to remind us, hadn't missed a kick all year.

We know what happened next. He missed.

The Falcons then marched down the field in relatively short fashion and scored, but the Vikings got the ball back with two time outs remaining and time left on the clock. So, with the most explosive offense in the history of the NFL (at that time) under his command, head coach Denny Green decided. . .

To take a knee and settle for overtime.

The Minnesota offense managed just two first downs on two drives in overtime, and ultimately lost when the Falcons got Morten Andersen in position to put home a 38-yard field goal. . .the same distance that Gary Anderson had missed from previously. . .and stole a 30-27 victory.

For me, this is easily my most painful Vikings memory, because I think that (to this point) the 1998 team was the best Vikings team of my lifetime. Seriously, the 2009 team is probably the second-best Vikings team of my lifetime, and the 1998 team would have annihilated them. For a team that good and that talented to be that close and lose in. . .well, since there's no other way to put it. . .in typical Vikings fashion was pretty awful.

So, have at it, folks. . .what's your most painful Minnesota Vikings memory?