Happy Holidays, Vikings Territory! Christmas is still two days away, but the Minnesota Vikings have already received a few early presents this year. On top of the fact that they won’t have to worry about Odell Beckham Jr. this Sunday, a win would guarantee their first playoff berth since 2012. The Vikings played some meaningful December football last year, but for the most part, their memories this month haven’t always been joyful. I asked the team — plus one familiar guest contributor — to look back and share their favorite Vikings memories from Decembers past.
What’s your favorite Vikings memory in December?
Adam P.: Frazier’s Final Game — 12/29/2013
There are plenty to choose from, good an bad. Hard to forget Teddy’s touchdown pass to Jarius Wright for the walk-off OT win over the Jets last year, or the Vikings and Ravens putting on a show in the snow two seasons ago. What about the thriller the Vikings and Packers played in the season finale in 2012 or Minnesota’s win in Philadelphia on a random Tuesday night showdown in 2010?
All of those are great and all, but the best thing to happen to the Vikings during December that I can remember came on December 29th, 2013. This was Leslie Frazier’s final game as the head coach in Minnesota. Following the game, which the Vikings actually won over the Lions 14-13, Frazier was fired and Minnesota began its search for a new head coach. After a handful of interviews, the team settled on longtime Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. Since Zimmer was brought on, the Vikings have slowly but surely gone from one of the league’s worst teams to one of the few teams that has a chance to win almost every game they play in. Zimmer is only in his second season but the potential he and this team has is light years ahead of what they had under Frazier’s “lead”.
So, thank you Leslie. Thank you for leading the Vikings nowhere and allowing the franchise to find a head coach that is capable of the leading this team farther than the first round of the playoffs.
Carl: Miracle at the Met — 12/14/1980
On December 14th, 1980, the Minnesota Vikings beat the Cleveland Browns 28-23 at Metropolitan Stadium. Trailing 23-9 entering the fourth quarter, the Vikings mounted a comeback led by Tommy Kramer’s 456 yards passing. On a desperation last second Hail Mary pass, Kramer found Ahmad Rashad in the end zone for the game winner that is now known as the “ Miracle at the Met”. The win gave Bud Grant his 11th NFC Central Division title.
I was 15 years old when I watched that nationally televised game. Yes, I was young and full of faith, but that unbelievable moment taught me never to give up on the Vikings.
Austin: Adrian Peterson Falls Just Short — 12/30/2012
What we remember as the game where Adrian Peterson fell just short of the single-season rushing record was also one of Christian Ponder’s greatest moments as a Vikings quarterback. He went toe-to-toe with Aaron Rodgers and led Minnesota to a resounding 37-34 victory over the Green Bay Packers. In a game the Vikings had to win to get into the playoffs, Ponder threw three touchdowns and protected the football, hitting receivers down the field and making throws he’d failed to make throughout the season.
Peterson rushed for 199 yards and broke the 2,000-yard mark on the season, becoming just the seventh running back to do so in NFL history. He carved through the Packers defense and nearly scored before Blair Walsh’s game-winning 29-yard field goal as time expired. But what I remember most is the improbable throws Ponder made to keep the Vikings alive — the 65-yard bomb to Jarius Wright midway through the fourth quarter, the three-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins through a traffic of defenders, or the dart to a rumbling, bumbling, stumbling Jerome Felton for 17 yards.
He’d miss the Vikings’ playoff loss the following week, but Ponder was fun to watch, if for just one remarkable game. We should be fortunate we have a quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater now, who is slowly proving he can make those types of games a regular occurrence.
Brett: The Grinch of the Group — 12/24/2011
I thought long and hard about my favorite Vikings memory in December when Austin gave us this week’s question. I was having a really hard time finding good memories in this otherwise very jovial month. It could be because there aren’t that many (though the great answers of my peers here makes me think otherwise). Or maybe it’s because I’m a negative person and can only remember the bad? Either way, I decided to run with it and be “The Grinch” of the group and give you my worst memory in December! Buhaha-ho-ho-ho!
Though there were quite a few to pick from, the most memorable of the bunch is none other than the game against the Redskins on December 24th, 2011. Despite winning the game, which ultimately just ended up hurting the Vikings’ draft position, this game is most known for being the game that changed Peterson’s career. In a meaningless game, that many people argued he shouldn’t have even been a part of in the first place, Peterson ruined his knee on a run up the gut that ended in screams of agony from Peterson while he laid on the ground clutching his knee, Peterson tore is ACL, MCL and meniscus (for good measure).
I was devastated. We watched the game at a horrible dive bar before heading to my in-law’s house for Christmas Eve festivities. I was not in the mood – and I didn’t do a very good job of hiding it. Here I am, Christmas Eve, sitting around the table playing games with my family on a night that’s supposed to bring happiness and cheer… with a scowl on my face and absolutely zero interest in “passing go” or spelling stupid words with stupid random letters.
Christmas was slightly better the next day. For everyone else, I mean. The holiday was still ruined for me; I just did a better job of hiding it as to not affect those around me. I’m sure there are quite a few happy memories from this final month of the year… But for me, all I can think of are bad losses, narrow playoff misses and devastating injury. Here’s hoping that this December finishes nicely and changes my perspective.
Lindsey Young (Vikings.com): An OT Thriller — 12/7/2014
There are a number of games I could choose from on this question, but because I tend to live in the moment and have a hard time re-living games from too far back, my answer for this has to be Dec. 7, 2014. Although the 2014 season didn’t culminate in anything significant, the December 7 game against the Jets was a great one for team (and fan!) morale. Starting out with Gerald Hodges’ pick-6 of Geno Smith, the game had plenty of energy from the get-go. Charles Johnson also came out of nowhere that night as well, which amped up the crowd.
Overtime games are always exciting, and thankfully, that one went well for the Vikings. There was nothing better than Minnesota getting the TD in its first possession. It was a decent quick pass by Teddy, but then, the blocking was fantastic for Jarius Wright to break away and run it all the way to the end zone. An outdoor game, at home, going to OT, ending with Wright diving into the crowd to celebrate the win? Now that’s a great night of football.
Are your December memories naughty or nice? Share your answers in the poll below and your stories in the comments section! Happy Holidays to all of our awesome readers.