Vikings and Eagles Fans, Look Away

Vikings and Eagles Fans, Look Away


1975 season, N.F.C. divisional round vs. Dallas: Until Stefon Diggs’s last-second 61-yard touchdown last Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, the term “Hail Mary” had a far more sinister connotation to Vikings fans. Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach helped introduce the term into the football vernacular by admitting that he said a Hail Mary, the Catholic prayer, after throwing a 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with 24 seconds left at frozen Metropolitan Stadium. Pearson was contested by cornerback Nate Wright near the goal line but caught the ball anyway. To this day, Vikings fans contend that Pearson pushed off, because of course they do.

1987 season, N.F.C. championship at Washington: In a strike-shortened season, the Vikings lost three games with replacement players but rebounded to finish 8-7. They swiped a playoff berth, then upset New Orleans and San Francisco on the road before playing the eventual champion, Washington, tough into the fourth quarter. Two fourth-quarter series inside the Washington 10-yard-line produced only a field goal, though what lingers is Darrin Nelson’s inability to catch what would have been, in all likelihood, a game-tying touchdown pass on fourth down with less than a minute left.

1998 season, N.F.C. championship vs. Atlanta: Imagine having one of the best offenses in N.F.L. history, one that set a record for points scored, and a kicker who had made all 35 of his field-goal attempts in the regular season — and then watching those two advantages slip away. It happened in Minneapolis, in the second half against Atlanta, when the Vikings, on the way to blowing a 13-point lead, scored 7 points after halftime, then watched Gary Anderson shank a 38-yarder. Naturally, the Falcons rallied, scoring a touchdown with 57 seconds left and winning in overtime when their own foreign-born kicker with a similar surname — Morten Andersen — drilled a field goal from, you guessed it, 38 yards.


2009 season, N.F.C. championship at New Orleans: Ah, the game that Brett Favre nearly won but lost but could have won but lost but should have won but lost, with what he thought was a broken ankle. Driving late, with the score tied, 28-28, the Vikings were penalized on third-and-10 at the New Orleans 33 for having too many men on the field, pushing them to the fringe of field-goal range. On the next play, Favre, who had led two second-half comebacks, threw an interception, denying Minnesota a chance to kick the winning field goal. He never touched the ball again. The Saints won the coin toss, then the game, on a 40-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley, and then, two weeks later, the Super Bowl.

2015 season, N.F.C. divisional round vs. Seattle: The temperature was minus-6 at game time, with a wind chill of minus-25, and somehow it felt colder afterward. Trailing, 10-9, late in the fourth quarter, Minnesota drove to the Seattle 9, setting up a 27-yard field-goal attempt with 22 seconds left by Blair Walsh, who had led the N.F.L. with 34 field goals — and had made all three attempts earlier in the game. When the ball was set on the ground by the holder, its lacing faced in — suboptimal for kicking — Walsh missed it left, same as Anderson 17 years earlier.

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