EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- What the Minnesota Vikings have accomplished so far in the postseason is unprecedented. They are the first team to play in the conference championship in the same year that their home stadium hosts the Super Bowl. But history ...
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- What the Minnesota Vikings have accomplished so far in the postseason is unprecedented. They are the first team to play in the conference championship in the same year that their home stadium hosts the Super Bowl.
But history hasn’t been kind to the Vikings in their most recent trips to the NFC Championship. Minnesota has lost its past five conference title games, which is the most such losses without a win in the past 40 years, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Case Keenum would not only further his legend if he leads the Vikings to their first Super Bowl berth in 41 years; he’d help buck this trend of losses. Minnesota has had a different quarterback start in each of its past five NFC title game defeats (1977, 1987, 1998, 2000, 2009).
Case Keenum is trying to get Minnesota to its first Super Bowl appearance in 41 years. Brace Hemmelgarn/USA Today SportsThose five losses came by an average of 14.2 points, but that’s a somewhat skewed statistic inflated by a 41-0 loss to the Giants in the 2000 NFC Championship. Three of the other four losses were by seven points or fewer, including Minnesota’s last appearance in 2009, when it lost to New Orleans in overtime.
The Vikings and their fans have been through monumental heartbreak and misery at this level. As they hit the road for Philadelphia to face a team they’re 0-3 against in the postseason, here’s a look at what happened in those past five championship round losses for Minnesota.
2009 NFC Championship: Vikings vs. Saints
Location: New Orleans
Score: 31-28 Saints (OT)
Brett Favre recently revealed that he played through concussion symptoms during the ’09 NFC Championship that would later be overshadowed by the Saints’ Bountygate scandal. The two teams went back and forth all game, but when Minnesota had a chance to win in regulation, Favre was picked off on third-and-15 by Tracy Porter, sending the game into overtime. The play before, the Vikings were flagged for having 12 players on the field. Instead of running the ball on third-and-long from the Saints' 33-yard line with the game tied 28-28 to set up a game-winning field goal (to be fair, Favre’s injured ankle probably couldn’t have handled that), the interception led to OT, where New Orleans kicker Garrett Hartley kicked a 40-yard winner. The Saints would go on to win their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Minnesota (13-3) at Philadelphia (13-3), 6:40 p.m. ET Sunday, Fox.
• Vikings moving past miracle finish• How we got to Keenum vs. Foles• Eagles go to dogs for NFC Championship• How Eagles' D-line strategy paying off• Sizing up the conference title games• Big questions for final four | Schedule• Barnwell: An improbable final four
2000 NFC Championship: Vikings vs. Giants
Location: East Rutherford, New Jersey
Score: 41-0 Giants
Minnesota’s defense was exhausted by the time this game was over. The Giants' offense was on the field for 42:22 in the most lopsided NFC Championship in history. Absolutely nothing went right for the Vikings in a game where they totaled 114 yards on offense and gave up 518 on a night when Kerry Collins went berserk and threw five touchdown passes. Daunte Culpepper threw for 78 yards, three interceptions, fumbled and was sacked four times. To save from the angst that reliving this game may cause, we’ll choose to end the game summary without detailing more of the gory details from this beatdown.
1998 NFC Championship: Vikings vs. Falcons
Score: 30-27 Falcons (OT)
The Vikings became the first team in NFL history to go 15-1 in the regular season and not reach the Super Bowl. Despite trailing by as many as 13 points, Atlanta kept the Vikings' high-powered attack with Randall Cunningham and Randy Moss in check and forced this game down to the wire. Holding on to a 27-20 lead with 2:07 remaining, the Vikings aimed to all but end the game with a field goal, but Gary Anderson's 38-yarder went wide left for his first missed kick all season. Atlanta drove down the field, scored and sent the game to overtime when Vikings coach Dennis Green decided to run out the clock at the end of regulation. Atlanta went on to the Super Bowl after Falcons kicker Morten Andersen made a 38-yard field goal in OT.
1987 NFC Championship: Vikings vs. Redskins
Location: Washington, D.C.
Score: 17-10 Redskins
Older Vikings fans will never forget "The Drop." The defenses took over this NFC Championship bout in Washington, where Vikings quarterback Wade Wilson was sacked eight times. With the game tied 10-10, Redskins quarterback Doug Williams, who went on to become the first African-American quarterback to start in the Super Bowl, bounced back from a rough outing and orchestrated an 80-yard drive capped off with a touchdown pass to Gary Clark. Just like the Vikings' thrilling win last week over the Saints, one play would decide whether Minnesota would advance in the postseason. The Vikings were 6 yards away from tying the game with 1:03 remaining. On fourth-and-goal, Wilson threw a pass to Darrin Nelson, who dropped the ball at the goal line.
1977 NFC Championship: Vikings vs. Cowboys
Location: Irving, Texas
Score: 23-6 Cowboys
Fran Tarkenton was forced to sit out with a broken fibula and thumb after he led the Vikings to wins in their three previous NFC Championships in 1973, 1974 and 1976. He was replaced by Bob Lee, who was in the middle of his second stint with the Vikings. Dallas’ defense tormented Minnesota from the start. The Cowboys held the Vikings to 214 total yards of offense, including 66 yards rushing, and forced four turnovers. By halftime, Minnesota had scored its only points of the game, on field goals of 32 and 37 yards off the foot of Fred Cox.