With the playoffs upon us, we can take a look back at the history between the Minnesota Vikings and their opponents this week, the New Orleans Saints. While our other history pieces focus on the regular season, this one will be centered solely on the postseason matchups between these two teams.
This will be the fifth matchup between the Vikings and the Saints in the postseason, which will move the Saints into a tie for the third-most playoff matchups against the Vikings. Minnesota has played the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams and the Dallas Cowboys seven times each, and they’ve also played the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins five times. The Vikings have a 3-1 record against the Saints in the playoffs so far. Here’s a look at each of those four matchups, with the boxscores provided by the good folks from Pro Football Reference.
3 January 1988 - Minnesota Vikings 44, New Orleans Saints 10
The 1987 season was a bit unusual in the NFL. There was a players strike in the middle of the season that caused the NFL to cancel one week of games, and there were three weeks of games played largely by replacement players, or “scabs.” The Vikings finished the season with a record of 8-7, with their replacement players going 0-3, which was good enough for the #5 seed in the NFC playoffs. They were the last team into the playoffs in the NFC. . .the league didn’t go to the six-team format until 1990.
Minnesota rolled into the Superdome as touchdown underdog to the Saints, who had finished the season with a record of 12-3. That made them the NFC’s other Wild Card team, as they finished behind the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West that year. (This was back when there were only three divisions.) So, the winner of this game would go on to face the 49ers in the Divisional Round.
New Orleans got on the board first, courtesy of a 10-yard pass from Bobby Hebert to Eric Martin. After that, the Vikings blew up in a big way. The Vikings scored 24 unanswered points, including an 84-yard punt return from Anthony Carter and Carter catching a 10-yard pass from running back Allen Rice. The Saints got a field goal from Morten Andersen to make it 24-10, and that would be the last time they would score on the day. Just before the half Wade Wilson hit Hassan Jones for a 44-yard touchdown to make it 31-10 going into the locker room.
The Vikings added a bit to their lead in the second half, and left New Orleans with a 44-10 victory. They would go on to San Francisco the next week and pull off a second monumental upset. . .hopefully we’ll get a chance to talk more about that one next week.
6 January 2001 - Minnesota Vikings 34, New Orleans Saints 16
This game took place in the Divisional Round, as the Vikings were the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs that year and hosted the Saints, who were coming off of a 31-28 victory over the St. Louis Rams in the Wild Card round. The Vikings had an opportunity to capture the #1 seed in the playoffs that year, but finished the season on a three-game losing streak to squander that opportunity and let the New York Giants grab the top spot.
The Vikings got off to a fast start in this one, with Daunte Culpepper hitting Randy Moss for a 53-yard touchdown on Minnesota’s third play from scrimmage. Culpepper would get a second touchdown pass in the first half, a 17-yarder to Cris Carter, and the Vikings took a 17-3 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Minnesota, essentially, iced this one on their first drive of the third quarter, as Culpepper and Moss connected again. This time, it was a 68-yard score, and that put the Vikings ahead by a score of 24-3. The Vikings would add one more touchdown on a 2-yard run by Robert Smith in the fourth quarter, and the Saints picked up a couple of meaningless scores to provide the final margin.
24 January 2010 - Cheatin’ Ass Saints 31, Minnesota Vikings 28*
Yep. We know what happened. We remember what happened. And Gregg Williams, to this day, remains a human colostomy bag that should still be serving a lifetime suspension from the National Football League.
And, in the words of latter-day American philosopher Forrest Gump, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.
14 January 2018 - Minnesota Vikings 29, New Orleans Saints 24
The only four words you need:
Diggs. Sideline. Touchdown. Unbelievable.
And that’s a brief look back at the postseason history between the two teams that will meet at the Superdome on Sunday. Can the Vikings channel the spirit of the 1987 team and pull of what would be a pretty significant upset?