Welcome to the 25 SKOL’s of Christmas!
We will also be looking back on different times in Vikings’ history, much like Freeform did the 25 Days of Christmas.
It’s that simple. The holidays can be a trying time for some people and we want to put a smile on people’s faces by reminiscing about some truly joyous times in Vikings’ history.
On the fourteenth SKOL for Christmas, I received the Miracle at the Met from the Vikings.
The current generation of Vikings fans will never forget Case Keenum’s 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs as time expired in the fourth quarter that gave the Vikings a 29-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints in an NFC Divisional playoff game on Jan. 14, 2018. Dubbed “The Minneapolis Miracle” that ending sent the Vikings to the NFC title game.
Just 33 years ago, and one month before, another unlikely end saw Vikings fans rocking the erector sets that were Met Stadium, Bloomington, Minn. I was eleven years old at the time and was present. The end of the game was my first experience of how special it could be to witness the passion I had for sports.
It was 20 degrees when kickoff took place on December 14, 1980. However, the wind chill made it feel like 11. The Vikings came in with an 8-6 record, and the chance to win NFC Central. The Browns, which were 3 points ahead, were 10-4. A win would be enough to guarantee a playoff berth.
The Browns held a 13-0 halftime lead, but quarterback Tommy Kramer’s 31-yard touchdown pass to tight end Joe Senser early in the third quarter cut Cleveland’s lead to 13-6. The Vikings’ Rick Danmeier, who had missed the extra point, traded field goals with the Browns’ Don Cockroft and a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Cleo Miller in the fourth quarter gave Cleveland a 23-9 lead early in the final quarter.
With just over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Vikings started to rally when Kramer ran back Ted Brown for a touchdown pass of 7 yards. However Danmeier missed the extra point again. (This is confirmation of just how far back the Vikings’ kicking issues go.)
This left the Browns up by eight points — which was two scores because the two-point conversion had yet to be adopted by the NFL — and in possession of the ball. It was on this Browns drive that it became clear this might be the Vikings’ day after all.
Cleveland was running clock and keeping the ball on ground until Brian Sipe, quarterback of the Cleveland Indians, made a throw on second-and-9 at his own 41 yard line. This was meant for Reggie Rucker at halffield. He didn’t see it. Bobby Bryant intercepted a pass from the quarterback, who would go on to be the 1980 NFL MVP.
Kramer, known as “Two-Minute Tommy” for his ability to lead comebacks, wasted no time in leading the Vikings on a five-play, 47-yard drive that took 37 seconds and ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ahmad Rashad. It was Rashad’s first touchdown in 10 games. Danmeier didn’t miss this extra point but the Vikings still trailed by one with 1:35 remaining.
The Browns recovered the onside kick at the Vikings’ 44-yard line, but an illegal motional penalty backed up Cleveland and linebacker Scott Studwell stopped Mike Pruitt a yard short on third-and-9.
With just 14 seconds remaining, the Browns punted with 23 seconds remaining. Minnesota then took control at its own 20 yard line. Kramer threw a ball to Senser at their Vikings 30. The tight end was lateraled to Brown who gained 39 yards before being out of bounds to stop time with 5 seconds remaining.
The play call that came into the huddle was known as “Squadron Right,” sending three wide receivers (Terry LeCount, Sammy White and Rashad) to line up on the right side of the formation. The play was broadcast by Kramer, who ran the go routes to get to the end zone.
Kramer leaned back and threw the Hail Mary pass at his 47-yard line. Thom Darden, Browns safety tipped the ball to the Cleveland 5. Rashad was able, despite the chaos, to get it in one hand at 1-yard. He backed into a goal zone and won a 28-23 win.
“A flea flicker is what beat us as much as anything,” Cleveland’s Calvin Hill told reporters afterward. “A damn good flea flicker, that Senser-to-Brown play.”
Grant was awarded his 11th NFC Central championship as the Met erupted. The euphoria wouldn’t last long. The Vikings were defeated 31-16 by the Eagles team in Philadelphia’s opening round of playoffs. Oakland would win the Super Bowl.
However, the Met did have its miracle and Kramer Rashad and Vikings fans were able to cherish their memories for a lifetime.
Judd Zulgad is co-host of the Purple Daily Podcast and Mackey & Judd podcast at www.skornorth.com
Previous SKOL’s of Christmas:
Drafting Randy Moss
Vikings 1997 Wild Card Comeback
Jarius Wright Walks Off the Jets
Jared Allen Traded to Vikings
Adrian Peterson Sets Rushing Record
Brett Favre Revenge Tour
Bud Grant Rocks a Polo in Freezing Temperatures
Adrian Peterson Stiff Arms Defender to Oblivion
Anthony Carter Dominates the 1987 Playoffs
Kirk Cousins’ First Major Comeback
Randy Moss Dominates Monday Night Football
Tuesday Night Joe Webb
Randy Moss Laterals to Moe Williams