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The 1998 Vikings had a plus-260 point differential, which still ranks as the seventh-best in NFL history. The six teams in front of them all reached the championship game, whether it was the Super Bowl or the equivalent AFL or Wholesale Minnesota Vikings Jerseys NFL title game. That 1998 Vikings season really was the cruelest tease of all.

The 1998 Vikings captured Cheap Andrew Glover Jersey something unusually special. Minnesota went 15-1 and set what was then a league record for points Cheap Brad Johnson Jersey scored in the regular season (556). The Vikes were primed to waltz into Super Bowl XXXIII; they were 11-point favorites in the NFC Championship Game at home against the Atlanta Falcons, who had gone 14-2. And then, owing to a variety Cheap Cris Carter Jersey of ill-timed mistakes and missed opportunities, the Vikes blew a 13-point lead, and it was all over.

Minnesota had entered that season with reasons for optimism. It was already a well-balanced team that had won a Cheap Jeff Christy Jersey playoff game the Cheap Randall Cunningham Jersey season before. But on draft day, the Vikings landed wideout Randy Moss with the 21st overall pick. Moss would become a Hall of Famer, but the breadth of his talent was immediately evident upon his arrival.

“Moss’ performances that spring and summer,” Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr wrote two years ago, “became something like the origin scenes in a superhero comic book.”

At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Moss had great size, but he was also gifted with extraordinary speed and body control. Orr’s piece touches on how many of his teammates were in awe of his ability right away, with quarterback Brad Johnson describing more than once how it was pretty much impossible to overthrow him. The Vikes Cheap Randy Moss Jersey already had another future Hall of Fame receiver in Cris Carter. They would quickly discover just how lethal all that speed and skill could be. As offensive coordinator (and future Baltimore Ravens head coach) Brian Billick told Orr:

“We almost got to the point where we stopped looking at film. You try and prepare the players and say, ‘OK, this is what teams usually did, they’re single high or three deep’ or whatever. So we’d come into the game and it would be totally different. They figured they’d have to try something. So we’d just get into the game and adjust to whatever they were doing. Looking at all that film was a waste of time.”

Moss and Cunningham celebrate after one of their 15 touchdown pass connections in 1998. Star Tribune / Getty Images
Moss debuted by catching touchdown passes covering 48 and 31 yards in a 31-7 rout of the Buccaneers. Johnson broke his ankle the following week, and his replacement was Randall Cunningham, the thrilling former dual-threat Philadelphia Eagles star who was out of the league in 1996 and came back to join the Vikings a year later. By 1998, Cunningham was 35. With so many weapons at his disposal – including Cheap Robert Smith Jersey running back Robert Smith and tight ends Andrew Glover and Matthew Hatchette – Cunningham immediately settled in to become the kind of pocket passer his fiercest critics assumed he never could be. And the Vikings were off.

They won their first seven games – without scoring fewer than 29 points – before finally losing in Week 9 at Tampa Bay. Their big showcase came Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, on national television, when Moss caught TDs of 51 and 56 yards around a 54-yard TD catch for Carter – all in the first quarter. Moss finished the game with three catches for 163 yards … and three touchdowns.

The first two TD catches came on slightly underthrown balls that Moss casually caught on his hip in stride. The third, seen below, showed off his dazzling speed and footwork. He also caught a two-point conversion pass. It almost didn’t seem fair.

FOX Sports / theScore
The Vikings followed that win over the Cowboys by hanging 48 points on the Chicago Bears, 38 on the Baltimore Ravens, and 50 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. They finished as just the third team to win 15 regular-season games; the first two – the 1984 49ers and the 1985 Bears – had won the Super Bowl.

Minnesota’s first playoff game was more of the same: an easy 41-21 takedown of the Arizona Cardinals. The upstart Falcons weren’t given much of a chance when they came to the old Metrodome a week later with a berth in the Super Bowl hanging in the balance. Early on, at least, it looked like the Vikings might glide right past them.

After the Falcons scored a first-possession touchdown, the Vikings stormed back to a 17-7 lead, with Cunningham taking three straight deep shots downfield to Moss. Atlanta was called for back-to-back 15-yard penalties that set the Vikings up at the Falcons’ 19-yard line with a shot to blow the game wide open before halftime. Then, on first down, this happened:

FOX Sports / theScore
It was a rare drop for Moss, who appeared to slow down a bit just before the ball arrived, which forced him to break stride to reach for it. The play seemed insignificant at the time, as the Vikings soon settled for a field goal to extend their lead to 20-7. But it was indicative of the mistakes that doomed Minnesota as the game proceeded.

One observation from rewatching that game: Billick was not afraid to get Moss the ball any way he could, even by using the deception and misdirection that has become much more common in today’s wide-open game. Check out this orbit motion combined with play-action to free up Moss for a swing pass that he turned into a decent gain:

FOX Sports / theScore
Much of what the Vikings did that day involved little pre-snap motion, however, with Cunningham frequently working under center. Additionally, after those three straight early deep shots to Moss, Cunningham largely threw underneath; a graphic shown during the broadcast just before the start of the second half indicated that he had attempted just five first-half passes of 15 yards or more. One was Moss’ end-zone drop.

Late in the first half, Cunningham fumbled after his arm was hit by Falcons defensive end Chuck Smith as he wound up to throw. Atlanta took over at the Vikings’ 14 with 59 seconds left until halftime. The Falcons scored on the next play to make the halftime score 20-14.

The Vikings compiled a 15-play, seven-minute drive into the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 27-17. But Moss had another drop, and center Jeff Christy failed to get a snap up into Cunningham’s hands, resulting in another lost fumble. Still, after a fourth-down stop, the Vikings largely relied on Smith to pound out a drive that ended with the game’s defining gaffe.

Place-kicker Gary Anderson had been perfect all year: 35-for-35 on field goals, 59-for-59 on extra points. But with 2:10 left and a chance to put the Vikings up again by 10, Anderson sailed his kick wide left. The Falcons marched back up the field in eight plays to tie the game with 49 seconds to go.

The Vikings had another opportunity in regulation, but Cunningham misfired on a deep ball to Moss on second down. Dennis Green then elected to take a knee on third down from the Vikings’ own 27 rather than risk a disaster like the one that happened at the end of the first half. The crowd booed lustily. One of the greatest offenses in NFL history was denied its biggest chance by its own head coach.

The Falcons’ Chris Chandler and Eugene Robinson hoist the NFC championship trophy. Matthew Stockman / Allsport / Getty Images
The Vikings got the ball first in OT, and both teams possessed the ball twice before the Falcons won it on a field goal. The heartbroken silence in the Metrodome was obvious on the broadcast; it was apparently worse in the locker room. Smith told Orr there were “NFC Champions” banners and other premature displays all over the place, which only added insult to injury.

The Vikings got back to the playoffs the next two seasons, and even reached the NFC title game again in 2000, only to get throttled by the Giants. But 1998 is the loss that lingers. Unlike the Patriots, who’ve won three championships and reached five Super Bowls since their big 2007 letdown, that 1998 team stands as a symbol of the Vikings’ longstanding history of almost getting it done. They were a unique team at the right time that wowed the football world for an entire season, and then they were gone.

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EAGAN, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings running back Cheap Dalvin Cook Jersey will miss Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions because of the death of his father, according to a league source.

Cook returned to his home in Miami on Tuesday to be with his siblings and will miss the Vikings’ daily COVID-19 tests, making him unavailable for the season finale, according to the source.

Cook’s father, James, was 46 years old. The Vikings offered their condolences to Cook in a tweet Wednesday but have not announced the two-time Pro Bowler’s status for Sunday.

The entire Vikings organization is thinking of Dalvin and his family following the passing of Dalvin’s father, James Cook.

— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) December 30, 2020
James Cook, Dalvin’s younger brother who is the second-leading rusher for Georgia, also returned home to Miami and will not play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Friday.

Quarterback Cheap Kirk Cousins Jersey and rookie wide receiver Cheap Justin Jefferson Jersey also expressed condolences Wednesday to Cook, who was selected as the 2020 recipient of the Cheap Korey Stringer Jersey Good Guy Award. The Minnesota chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association presents this honor each year to a Vikings player to recognize media cooperation and professionalism.

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Cook leads the NFL in total yards from scrimmage (1,918) and scrimmage yards per game (137) and has scored 17 touchdowns this season. He is second in the league in rushing yards with 1,557, behind Tennessee Titans star Derrick Henry (1,777).

Cook joined Cheap Adrian Peterson Jersey and Cheap Robert Smith Jersey as the only players in Vikings history to rush for 1,500 yards in a season.

During his weekly Wednesday news conference, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer declined to say whether he has made a decision to rest starters in Week 17. Minnesota was eliminated from postseason contention with a Christmas Day loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Even if there were postseason implications, Cook would not have enough time to clear COVID-19 protocols in order to be allowed to play. The NFL has a six-day testing window for newly arriving players, a waiting period that applies to any interruption to the daily testing process.

Cook’s absence will clinch a second consecutive league rushing title for Henry. The next-closest players after Cook on the league leaderboard are more than 700 yards behind Henry entering the final week. Henry will be the first repeat winner since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006 and 2007.

Cook also will finish second in team history on the single-season list for yards from scrimmage, behind Peterson’s 2,314 total yards in 2012, when he won the league MVP award. Peterson, with 18 scores in 2009, is the only Vikings player who has tallied more rushing touchdowns in one season.

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The Vikings found Cheap Tyler Conklin Jersey in space, and the third-year tight end was able to deliver two of Minnesota’s five longest receptions on Sunday against the Bears.

The plays from Conklin started with a 30-yard reception in the third quarter on which he gained 29 yards after the catch. He showed elusiveness through Bears tackles attempts for an extra 12 yards above expectation on the play, which Next Gen Stats ranked as the eighth-most in its listing of Week 15’s “incredible YAC.”

Conklin then scored his first career touchdown on a play with a similar design as the 30-yard reception, again capitalizing on getting the ball in space and gaining 20 yards after contact.

“It definitely would have been a lot better if we had come away with a win yesterday,” Conklin said Monday. “I mean, it’s my third year, and I felt like it was kind of starting to haunt me a little bit. I hadn’t gotten into the end zone yet, and to finally make that happen yesterday kind of felt great. I felt like a weight was off my shoulders.”

Conklin’s first score occurred in his 45th career game, a contest in which he played 44 offensive snaps as the Vikings were without 10-year pro Cheap Kyle Rudolph Jersey for a second consecutive game.

The 2018 fifth-round pick heaped credit toward Rudolph for the way he has passed along knowledge to the position group. He said he wants to continue to improve as an “all-around tight end.”

“I think the big thing for me is being able to get consistent reps,” Conklin said. “When you’re out there and you’re playing 40, 50 snaps and able to get into a rhythm of how a game is being played, how a defense is being played, it’s completely different than playing 10 or 15 snaps where you’re kind of in and out, maybe two or three plays a quarter, something like that. It’s a lot easier to grow and become comfortable and build confidence when you’re in a flow of a game and get a chance to go and play those higher snap counts.”

Dalvin Cook enters Week 16 with a career-best 1,484 yards, but he’s 195 shy of NFL rushing yardage leader Derrick Henry.

In attempting to defend his rushing crown, “King Henry” rumbled for another 147 yards Sunday, helping the Titans defeat the Lions.

Cook churned out an impressive 132 against the Bears as Minnesota remained committed to the run in trying to come back against Chicago, but he still fell further behind Henry.

The Florida natives have become friends and frequently talk. There’s a mutual admiration between the former second-round picks.

Cook, who was tabbed 41st overall by Minnesota in 2017, recently credited the 45th overall pick of 2016 for the way he “just keeps elevating” his game.

“I’ve just got to try to get somebody to stop him,” Cook said last week when asked about his own shot at becoming the first Viking to lead the NFL in rushing yards since Cheap Adrian Peterson Jersey did so with 1,485 in 2015.

Henry’s final two games are at the Packers and Texans in Weeks 16 and 17, respectively, so that doesn’t bode the greatest for Cook getting shutdown help.

Cook averaged 106.5 yards per game against the Packers and totaled 130 at Houston back in Week 4.

Minnesota’s final two games of the 2020 regular season are at New Orleans on Friday and at Detroit on Jan. 3, 2021.

The Saints defense ranks fourth in the NFL with a stingy 95.6 rushing yards allowed per game and second with a downright Scrooge-y 3.79 rush yards allowed per attempt.

The Lions are quite the opposite, allowing 137.3 rushing yards per game (29th in the NFL) and 4.47 rushing yards per play (19th).

Frame-By-Frame: Dalvin Cook’s Second Touchdown In Houston
View photos of RB Cheap Dalvin Cook Jersey second touchdown during the Vikings-Texans game on Sunday at NRG Stadium.

Tennessee’s position atop the AFC South via tiebreaker over Indianapolis (10-4) makes it unlikely the Titans will rest Henry in Week 17, so all of those factors might be too much for Cook, who has played one fewer game, to overtake him.

There are some impressive rankings in the Vikings record book that Cook can still chase.

Cook’s 1,484 yards entering Week 16 are the fifth-most in a Vikings season.

Only Adrian Peterson (three seasons) and Cheap Robert Smith Jersey (once) have had bigger years on the ground for Minnesota.

Peterson ranks first (2,097 in 2012), second (1,760 in 2008) and fourth (1,485 in 2015). Smith ranks third (1,521 in 2000).

Peterson won the rushing title in each of those seasons and set a Vikings record with 10 100-yard games in 2008 that he matched again in 2012. Smith had eight such performances in 2000.

Cook recorded his eighth of the season, along with his 15th rushing touchdown, which trails only Peterson’s 18 in 2009 for the most in a Vikings season.

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak has seen plenty during his epic NFL career, including the rushing race between Denver’s Terrell Davis and Atlanta’s Jamal Anderson in 1998. Kubiak was the Broncos offensive coordinator when Davis rushed for 2,008 yards and Anderson finished second with 1,846 yards for Atlanta.

Davis totaled 1,801 rushing yards by Week 16 that season and carried a lead of 205 yards over Anderson heading into the final two games.

Here’s a recap of the two long catches by Conklin.

Q3, 4:54 remaining — First-and-10 at the Chicago 49

The Vikings have just gotten a gain of 26 on a pass from Cheap Kirk Cousins Jersey to Cheap Justin Jefferson Jersey.

Minnesota uses 12 personnel with Dalvin Cook at running back and tight ends Conklin and Irv Smith, Jr. The Vikings also have receivers Cheap Adam Thielen Jersey and Jefferson in the game.

Cousins lines up under center, and Minnesota uses play-action by faking a run to the left, drawing Bears safety Eddie Jackson to the middle of the field. Conklin blocks linebacker Barkevious Mingo, then releases. Mingo chases Cousins, who is bootlegging, but doesn’t have enough time to affect the throw to Conklin.

1
Next Gen Stats calculated a completion probability of 89 percent on the pass, with Conklin having 7.5 yards of separation from the nearest defender at the time of the pass and 8.14 yards of space when he secured the football.

Jackson eventually chases down Conklin, but not before the gain of 30.

Q4, 8:14 remaining — First-and-10 at the Chicago 20

The Vikings have just converted a third-and-5 with a 9-yard pass to Jefferson when they incorporate a similar concept with the same personnel grouping that again pays big dividends.

This time, however, the Vikings have grouped Thielen and Jefferson together on the left side of the formation and have Conklin and Smith on the right side.

2
Cousins again sells a fake for a run by Cook before bootlegging. Conklin is tasked with blocking linebacker Khalil Mack before releasing. Smith runs an outward-breaking route to clear a huge alley for Conklin, who decisively turns up the field, accelerates and powers his way through contact for the score.

Next Gen Stats calculated the completion probability of this throw at 91.8 percent. Conklin again had ample room, with 8.2 yards of separation at the time of the pass and 7.8 yards at the time of the catch.

“I had no idea what was going on behind me,” Conklin said. “Like you said, it was a similar design to my first catch of the day, and once I caught it and realized I was at the 10-yard line and saw the end zone, I just knew I had to get in there.”