The Minnesota Vikings, the cursed warriors of the NFL


The « Purple Cannibals »

Founded in 1961, the Minnesota Vikings took a few years to learn. Then from 1968 to 1978, they only missed the play-offs once. The team was then led by one of the most formidable defensive lines in NFL history: the defensive ends Carl Eller and Jim Marshall and the defensive tackles Alan Page and Gary Larsen.

With them, Minnesota has made it into the Top 3 best defenses of the season seven times. Page was even voted NFL MVP in 1971, a first for a defenseman. These four fellows were nicknamed the « Purple People Eaters » (the « Purple Cannibals », in relation to the color of the team), and their motto was:  » We meet in front of the quarterback « .

The Vikings also had a very good QB (Fran Tarkenton) and a reliable offense. But that was not enough to win the Super Bowl. Minnesota missed its final against Kansas City (23-7) in 1970 and against Miami (24-7) in 1974, broke late in the game against Pittsburgh (16-6) in 1975 and was crushed by Oakland (32 -14) in 1977.

An almost perfect 1998 season

In 1998, the Vikings had a fabulous offensive quartet, with quarterback Randall Cunningham (34 touchdown passes, the year he resumed his career, at 34), running back Robert Smith and two excellent receivers, veteran Cris Carter and the nugget Randy Moss (21). There was also kicker Gary Anderson, who hadn’t missed a single kick during the regular season.

Minnesota won 15 games and suffered just one loss. In the conference final, the Vikings faced the Atlanta Falcons and led 27-20 with two minutes remaining. Anderson came into play to attempt a field goal, which could put Minnesota permanently out of reach of its opponent. But Gary Anderson missed his shot, his first failure of the season, 38 yards from the posts.

Atlanta then equalized, leading both teams to overtime. The Falcons scored first (30-27) and advanced to the Super Bowl. Two years later, Minnesota returned to the conference final (with Daunte Culpepper as QB) and took a correction against the New York Giants (41-0).

Favre and Peterson close to the final

Legendary Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre couldn’t retire. He played for a year with the NY Jets and then signed to Minnesota in 2009 at the age of 40. The bet was daring. The Packers and Vikings were fierce rivals. In Minnesota, alongside Favre was Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s top runner the previous season.

With these two gems, the Vikings had their best season in 10 years with 12 wins and four losses. They discovered a talented receiver, in the person of Sidney Rice (1312 yards). That year, Favre and Rice were All-Stars and Peterson, All Pro.

In the play-offs, the Vikings unseated the Cowboys (34-3) then faced the New Orleans Saints in the conference final. As in 1998, it was a kicking affair. Both teams went into extra time. New Orleans were the first to score a field goal and did not let his chance pass (31-28).


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