While the statistic that historically dogs the Minnesota Vikings franchise is the team’s 0-4 record in Super Bowls (and the team’s fans have become too cynical to even consider Super Bowl LIII as a possible redemption story), this mark of futility belies a long history of overall success in the NFL. After all, the Vikings have the sixth-best all-time cumulative record in the NFL and made the playoffs in 26 of their first 40 seasons. Still, that goose egg and those familiar feelings of disappointment in January…
Foundation of the Vikings for the 1960 season represented the NFL’s fourth attempt to base a team in Minnesota, but the first since the 20s. After most of the 60s passed by with the Vikings mostly losing, fortunes changed with the hiring of Bud Grant as head coach. Grant would ultimately become the central figure in Vikings history, getting his team into the playoffs in 12 of his 18 seasons, including all four Super Bowl appearances to date. Grant’s famed defenses of “Purple People Eaters” were the dominant force of their time, a top-3 defense in points allowed seven times between 1969 and ’76.
Since losing to the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XI, the Vikings have not returned to the championship game, instead in winning seasons crushing hope with heartbreaking and/or ineffable clutch losses. Observe the emotional rollercoaster which is Minnesota Vikings history…
After Grant’s retirement following 1985, just two years passed before the Vikings were playoff bound again. After first blowing a 24-14 fourth-quarter lead over Washington in the final week of the regular season to get dropped in the playoff seeding, the Vikings roared back to put up 80 points in the first two playoff games, only to lose to none other than Washington in the NFC championship game when Darrin Nelson couldn’t hold on to a touchdown catch with under a minute to play.
The Dennis Green Era, oddly enough, has easily been the Vikings’ most successful run to date. (Did you know…?) In his nine full seasons as head coach, Green got the Vikings into the playoffs, seemingly continuously rotating in veteran QBs on their last legs: Rich Gannon, Jim McMahon, Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham and Jeff George all got a shot as Vikings starter in the twilights of their careers, while Brad Johnson was at the helm for two seasons well prior to his prime.
Green’s Vikings nevertheless unloaded some doozies on the faithful in the 1990s, however: In ’98, a 15-1 season and a monster year by Randy Moss was ruined by Gary Anderson’s fourth quarter chip-shot field-goal whiff in the NFC championship game. Sensational youngster Daunte Culpepper was plugged at QB for the 2000 season, the team again made the conference championship and, as a 1-point favorite, rolled over for the 41-0 smoking by the eventual champion New York Giants.
Green left for Arizona and eternal memehood, while the Vikings were mostly ho-hum for much of the 2000s. Brett Favre was brought in for his final two seasons, and the grizzled Packer actually turned in credible enough of an ’09 season to again get the Vikings back to the NFC title match. In this game, despite three touchdowns by the unstoppable Adrian Peterson, the Vikings lost in overtime thanks in no small part to Favre’s red-zone interception with 14 seconds remaining in regulation.
More so-so ball followed, with just two wild-card game losses in the 10s … until 2017. With a top-5 defense, a healthy OL, a Cinderella story at quarterback and the Super Bowl hosted in Minneapolis, the 2017 Minnesota Vikings were a team of destiny if ever one were. Sure enough, the Vikings entered the NFC championship games as big favorites, only to flashback to 2001 and simply not show up to be trampled, 38-7, by the eventual champion Philadelphia Eagles.
What have the good folks of Minnesota done to deserve this sort of stuff, anyway…?
For the official Minnesota Vikings website, click here.