Here are 10 more purple fails
I still think about how the Minnesota Vikings dazzled us in Buffalo and then came home dejected and let the Cowboys drop a 40-3 bomb on the faith we all (finally) put in our now 8-2 hearts. home team pushing the attack. How could they be so stupid to follow such a jeweler?
Well, with a little thought, it becomes clear that this is not a shock. This is the norm. Our Vikings, in fact, built a long glorious history on such collapses a week later.
Pro-Football-Reference.com There’s a page dedicated to the greatest comebacks in Vikings history, and a quick look tells us a few eye-openers. The Bills game two weeks ago tied for the sixth-largest deficit by a Vikes in team history — the largest was 24, against San Francisco in 1977. More on that later.
What stands out to me in digging deeper into past numbers is that the franchise has had 20 comebacks of 14 points or more in its 63-year history. I would guess more. And one of those 20 comebacks happened in the final game of a weak season, leaving no room for failure the following week.
In the other 19, the Vikings have an 8-10-1 record heading into next week’s games, and here’s the hard truth of the matter. One might think that a thrilling comeback win would inspire a team to greater heights, but often our Vikings expend so much emotional and physical capital trying to steal those signature wins that failure is highly likely—perhaps the norm.
Not all comeback wins can be easily determined by just counting. Some of the most memorable were less about the number of points, but how dramatic the competition was, how late it was and how important the games were.
There’s a litany of these dramatic games that cost fans and teams alike, meaning next week’s collapse was a foregone conclusion. The most notable examples include dramatic wins that are deeply ingrained in Vikings lore, and some of these later week collapses are even more deeply ingrained. Here’s a look back to remind you that the 40-3 Dallas loss is nothing new:
December 4, 1977: The greatest comeback in Vikings history was produced by none other than “Two Minuteman” Tommy Kramer, who began earning his nickname in this game late in the rookie season. Fran Tarkenton was lost to injury and Bobby Lee was working under .500 against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Vikings trailed 24-0 at the half and 24-7 after three quarters when Bud Grant brought in Cramer. Kramer promptly drove Minnesota down the field three times, each capped by touchdown passes — to Ahmed Rasha, then to Bob Tucker, then to Sammy White — and when the dust settled, the Vikings left Met Stadium’s 12-degree weather with a 28-yard touchdown. 27 wins.
A week later, the Vikings managed one early and another late in garbage time in a convincing 35-13 loss to the Oakland Raiders. Minnesota managed 11 first downs against 7 turnovers in this Letdown Special.
December 14, 1980: The Cleveland Browns took a 23-9 lead early in the fourth quarter when “Two Minute” Tommy repeated the drama of three years earlier. The Vikings amassed 530 total yards, 455 through the air, in a 28-23 victory, again led by three scoring drives (once to Ted Brown, twice to Rasha).
Seven days later, Kramer threw four interceptions as the Vikings blew a 13–3 halftime lead in a loss to the Houston Oilers. Worse, the upset continued into the next week as Philadelphia outscored Minnesota 24-2 in the second half en route to a 31-16 playoff loss for the Purple.
December 27, 1997: In the only top-20 comeback win in a playoff game, the Vikings trailed the New York Giants 19-3 at halftime. Randall Cunningham orchestrated a comeback that resulted in a 24-yard Eddie Murray field goal for a 23-22 win in the NFC wild-card game. The following week, the 49ers led 38–14 before pulling the Vikings to within 16 in a 38–22 loss with a late TD and 2-point conversion.
January 6, 2001: One of the greatest Viking wins in memory was defined not by a comeback, but by their guts. The 2000 edition of the Purple started 11-2, then lost the final three games of the regular season to make the playoffs at 11-5, St. Louis Rams and Indianapolis Colts and lost to rival Green Bay.
With such an approach, many have questioned whether they, like the current team, are good enough to beat playoff-caliber competition. The Vikings went on to score a big win against New Orleans, 34-16, effectively erasing all doubt. And then, in New York, the underdog Giants covered a 1-point spread and then decisively beat the Vikings in the final Minnesota playoff game.
Feeling like 40-3 rocked your world, and not in a good way? Check out the NFC Conference Championship game that resulted in a score no Vikings fan can hear without glaring headaches and delirious shivers: 41-0.
October 23, 2005: The only comeback among the tops fifty (10+ points) features the rival Green Bay Packers. Trailing 17-0 at the half, Daunte Culpepper scored over Brett Favre in the second half to give the Vikings a 20-17 lead with 3:10 to play.
Favre marched down the Packers’ field and Ryan Longwell hit a 39-yard field goal to tie the game at 20 with just 24 seconds left. Paul Edinger responded with a 56-yard field goal to lift the Metrodome crowd to a 23-20 victory. The next week, the Carolina Panthers crushed Minnesota and took a 38-7 lead, then Brad Johnson’s late touchdown pass made it 38-13.
January 14, 2018: Do I have to remind you? Minneapolis Miracle – Keys Keenum to Stefon Diggs gave the Vikings a 29-24 win as time expired in an NFC playoff game against the hated New Orleans Saints and their hated coach, the architect of “Bountygate” Sean Payton. . Pandemonium ensued, with the national media discussing Diggs’ catch as a Bills comeback, and the miraculous Justin Jefferson catch that secured it became fodder for sports talk shows across the country.
40-3 and maybe more like 41-0, followed by an appearance in the NFC Championship game where the Vikings laid a big egg again, losing 38-7 to the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles.
4 January 1970 / 30 December 1973 / 29 December 1974 / 26 December 1976: Comebacks aside, the four biggest wins in Vikings history are their NFL / NFC Championship Game victories at the end of the 1969, 1973, 1974 and 1976 seasons.
Each win brought them to the hallowed land of the Super Bowl. 46 years later, only a few of us can remember how big it was that was—the Vikings playing in the Super Bowl was as much a dream scenario then as it is now, and the Vikings have accomplished it four times in seven seasons.
Of course, every time the biggest wins of the Championship Games were immediately followed by The Letdown. Four Super Bowl losses, including two (the first to Kansas City and the fourth to Oakland) as clear favorites.
do you see Viking Letdowns are a natural continuation of the most amazing Viking victories. That’s why Vikings fans everywhere should tune in to all games from here on out to be boring above all else. If the Vikings can each boringly win more games than they lose the rest of the way, and then go on a boring streak in the postseason, there won’t be monumental heights for the squad to fall from.
If the rest of their season is bland and boring, maybe they can hold on to one last stunning, earth-shattering, I Can’t-Believe-I-Just-See-That win forever. Then, the only failure of the following week will occur on a beach in mid-February.