Vikings all-time tournament: Top-seeded 1998 holds off 2012
The opening half of the Skol Bowl tournament went about as expected.
The top-seeded 1998 Minnesota Vikings, led by a talented receiving corps in Cris Carter, Randy Moss and Jake Reed, exploded for three touchdowns to grab a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.
2012 Minnesota, the 16th seed, tightened up in the second half and made things interesting, but head coach Leslie Frazier’s team was bounced in the first round with a 21-14 loss to the juggernaut ‘98 squad.
Randall Cunningham (17-of-26, 197 yards) put on a show in the first two quarters for the ’98 Vikings, fueling lengthy drives and opening the scoring with a two-yard connection with Reed for six points with 4:01 to play in the first quarter.
On the ‘98 Vikings next drive, Cunningham threw a dart to Moss for 19 yards and then hit Carter in stride for a 38-yard gain, bringing the ball to the 8-yard line. The 35-year-old quarterback scrambled for the end zone on the very next play for a 14-0 lead.
’98 Minnesota punched it in again on Leroy Hoard’s two-yard rush with under one minute to play in the second quarter, breaking open the game at 21-0.
The ‘12 Vikings couldn’t muster anything on offense in the first half.
Christian Ponder, the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft, didn’t complete a single pass until there were nine minutes to play in the second quarter. ’12 Minnesota had its first seven possessions end in a punt, three being on three-and-outs.
After going three-and-out again to start the third quarter, running back Adrian Peterson (23 carries, 150 yards) took the reins on the ’12 Vikings’ offense. He galloped through the ’98 Vikings defense for a 53-yard touchdown with 1:44 left in the third quarter to bring the ’12 Vikings within two scores.
While the ’98 Vikings were content on handing the ball off to running back Robert Smith — who finished the day with 22 carries for 126 yards — and running out the clock, the ’12 Vikings kept attacking.
The run-heavy ’12 Vikings burned six minutes off the clock but capitalized on another touchdown scamper by Peterson, this time from 26 yards out.
And then, things got interesting.
Perhaps a bit too interesting for the ’98 Vikings head coach Dennis Green.
Defensive back Antoine Winfield, who had already intercepted a Cunningham pass on the first drive of the day, picked off another pass to stop the ’98 Vikings in the red zone.
Ponder and the Vikings took over with three minutes to play and a chance for a game-tying touchdown – and perhaps a game-winning score with a two-point conversion.
Ponder connected with wide receiver Jarius Wright twice to march the ’12 Vikings into ’98 Vikings territory.
But on first-and-10 from the ’98 Vikings’ 33-yard line, ’12 Minnesota was called for an illegal motion penalty. It all unraveled from there. Peterson rushed for two yards, and then Ponder’s next three passes were incomplete.
The top-seeded ’98 Vikings advance to the second round of the Skol Bowl tournament and will play the winner of the matchup between eighth-seeded 1974 and No. 9 1970.
|98 MIN||4:01||TD||Jake Reed 2 yd. pass from Cunningham (Anderson kick)||0-7|
|98 MIN||10:11||TD||Randall Cunningham 8 yd. run (Anderson kick)||0-14|
|98 MIN||0:42||TD||Leroy Hoard 2 yd. run (Anderson kick)||0-21|
|12 MIN||1:33||TD||Adrian Peterson 53 yd. run (Walsh kick)||7-21|
|12 MIN||6:43||TD||Adrian Peterson 26 yd. run (Walsh kick)||14-21|