For the Vikings, the best team in franchise history is a great discussion point. The organization had some great teams that should all be included in the discussion. In the early years, Bud Grant’s units annually were among the league’s best from the late 60s until the late 70s. The Brett Favre Vikings of 2009 came close to the Super Bowl, just like the 1998 purple team with the rookie version of Randy Moss. Unfortunately for fans, but great for the argument, none of those teams has won the final game of the season.
Brian DeArdo from CBS named the best team in the Super Bowl era for all 32 franchises, and he also made a pick for the Minnesota Vikings.
1998 Beats Bud Grant’s Teams
DeArdo chose the 1998 team as the best Vikings team in history, and many Vikings fans would agree. The team featured Randall Cunningham throwing the ball to the rookie Randy Moss and Cris Carter, which is probably the greatest receiving duo in NFL history. The result of the talented offense was the most productive offense in NFL history at the time. Twenty-four years later, in league with much more offensive firepower, still, only five teams have scored more points per game in a single season in the Super Bowl era.
“With respect to Bud Grant’s four Super Bowl teams, the ’98 Vikings are the most dominant team in franchise history. They are also arguably the greatest NFL team that didn’t reach the Super Bowl. Led by Hall of Fame receivers Randy Moss (that year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year) and Cris Carter, All-Pro quarterback Randall Cunningham, Hall of Fame defensive end John Randle, and an offensive line that featured three Pro Bowlers, the Vikings lost one game (27-24 to the Buccaneers in Week 9) during the regular season. Minnesota, which scored a then-NFL record 556 points during the regular season, ran away from the Cardinals in the divisional round before hosting the Falcons in the NFC title game.”
The defense led by John Randle wasn’t bad either. Ed McDaniel went with Randle to the Pro Bowl. The four defensive backs, Fuller, Hitchcock, Griffith, and Thomas, combined for 18 interceptions. Head coach Dennis Green led his team to a 15-1 regular-season record.
In the first playoff game, the Vikings stomped the Cardinals. The result at halftime was 24-7. One week later, the unstoppable Minnesota Vikings played against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons lost just one more game in the regular season than the Vikings. DeArdo summarized the NFC championship game:
“Despite jumping out to a 20-7 lead, the Vikings never fully distanced themselves from the Falcons, who pulled to within a touchdown of Minnesota late in the fourth quarter. And after a missed field goal by Gary Anderson (who made each of his first 39 attempts that season), the Falcons tied the score with less than a minute left. Atlanta, after forcing two Vikings punts, won the game in overtime. The Falcons were ultimately dismantled in Super Bowl XXXIII, while the Vikings continue to search for their next trip to the big game.”
More than two decades later, Vikings fans are still traumatized by the game. A historical run ended in the most dramatic way possible.
Bud Grant became the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings in 1967 and built dominant teams year after year led by Jim Marshall on defense and Mick Tingelhoff on offense for more than a decade.
His 1969 Vikings won the last NFL championship ever. All four of the ‘Purple People Eaters‘ went to the Pro Bowl that season. After a 12-2 record in the regular season and beating the Browns and the Rams in the postseason, the Vikings fell short to the Kansas City Chiefs and their 3-4 defense.
Grant, however, led multiple dominant teams, just like the 1975 version of the Vikings. Once again, the team won 12 of 14 regular-season games. Fran Tarkenton and Chuck Foreman led the offense, while the ‘Purple People Eaters’ still dominated.
The playoff game is, to this day, a controversial subject, as Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson depending on who is asked, may or may not have pushed off to catch the game-winning pass.
Another great team lost the championship game in 2009. Once again, it was a heartbreaking loss for the fan base. Brett Favre joined the Vikings, and the team immediately started an incredible run. The 40-year-old dropped MVP-caliber numbers and led a dynamic aerial attack, while Adrian Peterson scored 18 rushing touchdowns. All-Pros Jared Allen and Kevin Williams highlighted the defense.
After a 12-4 regular season, the Vikings fell to the Saints in another controversial playoff matchup, as Favre took a lot of dirty hits in that game. The Saints went on to win the Super Bowl despite the bounty gate scandal.
Since the 2009 season, the only Vikings team contending for the title was the 2017 version, when the elite defensive unit of Mike Zimmer lost in the championship game against the Eagles. New head coach Kevin O’Connell will try to replicate the success of some dominant past teams. However, his goal is to take it one step farther, win the ultimate game, and hoist the organization’s first Lombardi trophy.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. He chose the Vikings as his favorite team, despite Christian Ponder being the quarterback at the time. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt