What are the worst moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).
5. 2005 Love Boat and other oddities
The Minnesota Vikings have plenty of on-field heartbreak, and we’ll get to that, but 2005 was a doozy for the organization. It began in March, when Mike Tice admitted to scalping his personal allotment of Super Bowl tickets. Later that month running back Onterrio Smith was busted at an airport with a faux phallus – the “Original Whizzinator” – and dried urine meant to fool an NFL drug test. He was suspended and never played another down in the NFL. Then, during the October bye week, 17 players allegedly chartered a boat on Lake Minnetonka, loaded it up with strippers and engaged in some … let’s just call it extracurricular activities. Oh, they also traded Randy Moss to the Oakland Raiders for a bag of balls, saw Daunte Culpepper tear his ACL and fired Tice at the end of the season. Had Twitter been around in 2005, the Vikings would have been its favorite team.
There was a lot of talk leading up to 2001 NFC championship game that the 12-4 New York Giants had gotten fat on a schedule made up of cupcakes, and that the No. 1 seed in the NFC would get exposed in the playoffs. Plenty thought Minnesota would be the team to end this Giants mirage, and the Vikings were actually installed as 1-point favorites, New York playing the role of home dogs at Giants Stadium. But Daunte Culpepper, Randy Moss and the Vikings’ high-powered offense never got into gear. The Giants scored on their first series and then made Minnesota pay dearly for a fumble on the kickoff return, and New York was up 14-0 just 2:13 into the game. Kerry Collins led the Giants to a 41-0 romp – the biggest blowout in NFC conference title game history – throwing a franchise-record five touchdowns on the way to the Super Bowl.
After the game, Vikings players were blunt.
“It’s going to be hard for us to win a Super Bowl in Minnesota,” Randy Moss said.
“I’ve done everything I’ve had to do to win a championship,” Cris Carter lamented.
The loss effectively signaled the end of the Vikings’ championship window in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
3. The Herschel Walker trade
In his first game as a Viking, Herschel Walker gashed the Packers for 148 yards on 18 carries in a 26-14 win at the Metrodome. In that moment, you couldn’t blame Minnesota for thinking that it got the better of Dallas in the blockbuster trade. We all know now that they didn’t.
“I don’t remember very many happy memories after that,” Steve Jordan, a tight end on those Minnesota teams with Walker, told NFL.com in 2014.
It’d be 27 games before Walker went over 100 yards again, and he’d never rush for 1,000 yards in any of his two-plus seasons in Minnesota.
The price for a good-but-not-great Walker was crushing for Minnesota, and made to look worse by the Cowboys’ success. While time has blurred the details of this trade – it’s commonly boiled down to Walker directly leading to Dallas picking Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson and the core of those 1990s Cowboys teams; it wasn’t that simple – the fact remains that the combination of picks and players Minnesota sent to Dallas allowed for the wheeling and dealing Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson did in building the Cowboys’ dynasty.
It’s not a straight line from Walker to Smith, but all of the twists and turns go through Minnesota.
2. Four Super Bowl losses
Before the Bills came around, the Vikings were the standard-bearers for big-game futility. Minnesota made four Super Bowls in an eight-year span under Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant, which is great. Only the Vikings lost every time.
The silver lining in these losses is that they weren’t nail-biters or lost on close calls – the Vikes were overmatched every time, getting outscored 95-34 in the four games. In fact, their closest game was a 16-6 loss to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl IX where the Steelers’ Iron Curtain held the Vikings to 119 total yards and Minnesota’s only score came on special teams – a blocked punt returned for a TD.
1. Gary Anderson’s miss
The Vikings were truly awesome in 1998, and they were 2:11 away from punching their ticket to the Super Bowl when the unthinkable happened – Gary Anderson missed a 38-yard field goal, an unfathomable scenario at the time. “Anderson hasn’t missed in two years,” Fox’s Pat Summerall said as the All-Pro took the field with Minnesota leading Atlanta 27-20 and Anderson in a position to put the game to bed. Anderson was perfect that season – 35-for-35 on field goals and 59-for-59 on extra points – and was on a streak of 122 consecutive makes dating back to Dec. 5, 1997.
“So that’s a pretty good bet,” Summerall’s partner, John Madden said on the broadcast. “If you say, ‘Do you think Gary Anderson will make this field goal?,’ the answer should probably be ‘Yes.’ ”
Anderson’s kick from the left hash missed wide left. Nothing went wrong, the snap and hold were both good. The conditions were ideal; they were in a dome. He just missed.
“I’m bitterly disappointed,” Anderson told reporters after the game. “We’re working as hard as we can to get to the Super Bowl, and for that to happen, it’s bitterly disappointing.”
Chris Chandler went on to lead Atlanta on a game-tying touchdown drive and the Falcons won it in overtime when Atlanta’s Morten Andersen booted – you guessed it – a 38-yarder.
Not only is the miss the most painful in Vikings history, it may the be the most agonizing miss in NFL history. It also created a great what-if scenario: What if the Vikings, not the Falcons, had faced John Elway and the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII?