StaTuesday: Mixed results, big wins for Vikings in prime time
The Minnesota Vikings were in a different place the last time that they hosted a prime-time game, back on Nov. 7, 2013.
There were playing at the Metrodome, for starters.
Head coach Leslie Frazier was calling the shots and much-maligned signal-caller Christian Ponder was the starting quarterback, while the Vikings were 1-7, languishing at the bottom of the NFC North.
Just over two years later, things are a bit different in Minnesota.
The 9-5 Vikings will end their regular-season run at TCF Bank Stadium in prime time on Sunday, when the Odell Beckham-less New York Giants come to town for a 7:30 p.m. showdown with big playoff implications for both teams.
But while the Vikings are in the midst of one of their best season since 2012, their performances in the spotlight have been less than spectacular this season.
Minnesota suffered its first stumble of the year on Monday Night Football back in Week 1, as the Vikings traveled to Santa Clara for their first prime-time matchup of the season.
It didn’t go well.
Second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater managed just 231 yards and one interception through the air, while 49ers running back Carlos Hyde gashed the Vikings’ defense for 168 yards and two touchdowns.
Prime Time Teddy
Flash forward to Week 14, when the Vikings squared off against the resurgent Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football, and Minnesota’s Week 1 woes looked more like an aberration.
Bridgewater turned in one of the most productive games of his career, throwing for 335 yards and one touchdown, before a last-second fumble cost the Vikings the game.
It’s a consistency problem that has plagued the Vikings since their inception.
Minnesota is 26-31 all-time on Monday nights, and just 6-9 on Thursday, while Pro Football Reference credits the Vikings with 109 night games dating back to a Saturday night win over over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1977, and lists Minnesota’s all-time night game record at 55-54.
But while the Vikings’ last few games under the lights have been tough to stomach, Minnesota’s history in prime time includes some impressive performances.
— The Vikings first night game took place on Saturday, Sept. 24, 1977, a rare 9-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Running back Chuck Foreman scored on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Fran Tarkenton to put Minnesota in front.
— Eventual Super Bowl runner-up Denver visited the Metrodome on Monday, Oct. 26, 1987, as running back D.J. Dozier scored three touchdowns to lead the Vikings past John Elway’s Broncos 34-27 on Monday Night Football.
— Minnesota’s defense came to play in prime time, holding the Packers’ offense scoreless, as the Rich Gannon-led Vikings cruised to a 23-7 win on Sunday, Dec. 2, 1990.
— Warren Moon may have thrown two interceptions on Thursday, Oct. 20, 1994, but the Vikings were still able to eke out a 13-10 overtime win over the Packers in Minnesota’s first prime time meeting with Brett Favre.
— The Vikings’ first Monday Night Football game of the Randy Moss era was a big one, as the explosive wideout’s legendary rookie season continued on Nov. 21, 1998 with 190 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a 37-24 win over the Packers.
— Moss’ heroics continued when the Vikings traveled to Dallas on Thursday, Nov. 26, 1998, as the rookie racked up a whopping three touchdowns and 163 receiving yards in a 46-36 win over the Cowboys.
— Guss Frerotte outlasted Drew Brees on Monday, Oct. 6, 2006 for a 30-27 Vikings win, as Antoine Winfield took a blocked field-goal attempt 59 yards back for a touchdown, while then-rookie Reggie Bush gashed Minnesota for two punt return touchdowns.
— Brett Favre flipped the script in his first Monday Night Football game as a Viking, leading Minnesota to a 30-23 win over the Packers on Oct. 5, 2008, throwing for 271 yards and three touchdowns at the Metrodome.