Question Of The Week

VT Question of the Week: Most Memorable December Games

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.

Guest Contributor

Lindsey Young ( 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.

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Austin Belisle

Austin Belisle is the West Coast's biggest Vikings fan, a football diehard cheering on the purple and yellow from sunny California. After graduating from San Jose State University in 2014, he began working full-time in corporate marketing and blogging on various sports websites. Austin's passion for the Vikings led him to Vikings Territory, where he hopes to share his lifelong enthusiasm for the team with readers on a daily basis. You can follow him on Twitter @austincbelisle

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  1. Hey folks, we cannot leave out Dec. 28 (my birthday), 1975 when the Vikes lost a playoff game to the Cowboys at the Old Met. Still known today as the “Hail Mary Game”, it has forever cemented my deep hatred for the Cowboys organization. We had been to the Super Bowl the previous two seasons (and would return the following season), and there was high optimism that this game was step one to another go at the elusive SB win following a stellar 12-2 season. The game was in hand at 14-10, with Page, Eller and Co. harassing Cowboy QB Roger Staubach all day long, Now, Dallas had no chance except to heave one to the corner of the field near the end zone (Staubach didn’t have a strong enough arm to get it to the end zone!), after which we could all celebrate and look forward to the next game, which would bring the Rams to the Old Met. That was a huge rivalry in those days.
    The frustration was beyond even 1998 or 2009, folks. It was just impossible to accept that Drew Pearson got away with that shove on Nate Wright, and it felt like the whole state just wanted to scream. Two additional unfortunate events followed, with an official being struck in the head by a thrown glass bottle, and Francis learning after the game that his father had died of a heart attack during the game. So yes, a memorable Hail Mary win in December of ’80, but an even more memorable Hail Mary loss in December of ’75.

    1. The only time I’ve ever cried was after that game. My younger brother was only 6 and a budding Cowboys fan. In my brokenness he said… Don’t be sad, you can have my team. My older brother thought that was hilarious and for years they would offer me their teams after every game the Vikings lost.

      1. That is funny, Carl. Please tell me you did not “take” the Cowboys, and that you, too, despise them like no other team in the league!!

          1. That would make you a true Viking fan, Carl. Nicely done. I believe there were three “trifecta” NFL weekends for us this year. That’s when the Vikes win, the Packers lose and the Cowboys lose. Makes a Monday much more tolerable.

      2. I too remember that game very well, Matt. It was ’73, and yes, Eller did quite a number on that chalkboard, it was the talk of the week following the game. There was a lot to be concerned about at half time, as we were looking at a 12-2 season going out the window, and we appeared tight in the way we were playing. Wound up winning 27-20, and it was always extra sweet to beat George Allen, who, in my opinion, had a very strong ego. I also vividly remember the first round game the next year against the St. Louis Cardinals featuring their dangerous RB Terry Metcalf. People were critical of the Vikes for not playing with enough emotion when it came to the playoffs, and used Moose’s previous year outburst as proof of what was needed to win. We will never know if that was why we won that Redskin game, but I guess people just wanted to see more hollerin’ and jumping around, which Bud firmly believed was just a waste of valuable energy. We beat the Cardinals 3o-14, with what I would say was our normal level of emotion. I also remember the Buffalo game you mention, that was sweet!

    2. That day is your birthday Coach? Wow, that must’ve ruined the fun! And Carl, you weren’t the only boy crying, 1st Viking game I remember watching…my big sister is a cowboy fan. (We lived in Texas at the time) It was horrible, my dad didn’t think I should be crying over a football game. So not only did my team get beat and the season ending in such a brutal way, I got a bit of a beating as well.
      Needless to say…I share your disdain for the Cowboys Coach. It runs deep.
      I’ll never feel sorry for Dallas when they suck like they do this year!
      Hell with that memory! My vote is for Tommy to Ahmad!

    3. that was on your birthday, coach? oh, jeez. yeah, that totally sucked. i will always remember that moment, saying, “he pushed off”, wondering why there wasn’t a flag thrown, and then feeling cheated. i also remember ‘the miracle’, though, too. we fans were spoiled going to super bowls so often. i never would have thought we wouldn’t have made it back by now. those were great years, even with losing those four

    4. That is one memory that stays with Vikings fans. I am still incredulous that anyone can watch the replay and try to claim that there was no offensive pass interference. Drew flat out pushed Nate down, caught the ball like he was fielding a punt, and waltzed untouched into the end zone. I still remember the official getting hit, the reward offered for information.. Coach, did anyone ever collect that reward? I was only 12, but I thought I remembered that no one identified the thrower. I don’t condone violence but, give the guy credit, the official royally screwed up and the bottle thrower made a much more accurate throw than Staubach! 🙂 I wonder how many rows up he was. I digress. That was the year that Vikings fans thought the chances of a SB win were better than the previous, that truly was a great team, led by a great coach. Sigh. Sorry to hear the Fran’s father passed away during the game though, far more tragic than a football game. I did not know that.

      1. To my knowledge, the bottle thrower was never identified, luv. It was an ugly scene there at the end, no doubt about it. Everyone was trying to make sense of the incredible disappointment. And I can still see our safety, Paul Krause, running toward the play and pointing at Pearson and screaming at the official in amazement for the lack of a call. I sure agree, to claim there was no offensive pass interference is pretty hard to buy. Interesting thing is even today instant replay could not help with that non-call. I guess we lost one in ’75 and got it back in ’80.

        1. Thanks coach! I am sure that those around the thrower were patting him on the back for the accurate throw. Goes to show the loyalty of Vikes’ fans, no one turned him in despite the reward.

  2. By the way, Carl, it should be pointed out that in the midst of that comeback in the 4th quarter of the Miracle at the Met game, we were down 23-22 due to a missed extra point by Rick Danmier on the previous touchdown. The entire stadium went into shock when he missed it, and everyone was prepared to declare Danmier the goat of the game and the lost chance at a division championship. I’m sure Rick was the most relieved man in the state when Rashad caught that ball.

  3. Couple of games come to this 53 yr old mind, first, I think was ’73 or ’74 , we were trailing George Allen’s Redskins 7-3 at halftime in a divisional playoff game, story has it Moose Eller busted up a chalkboard in getting everyone’s attention, Vikes came back to win 10-7 I believe. The other was in the winter of 75, with our playoff hopes still alive, we went into snowy Orchard Park and beat Buffalo as Tarkenton and company tuned up for the playoffs. Chuck Foreman scored what I think was his 22 RD of the year. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

    1. Guess I put my reply in the wrong location, Matt. What I wrote up in the middle of the comment section about the game Matt is referencing was supposed to be here. We’re in the old dog – new tricks situation spoken of so often.