Thursday, September 09, 2010

A half-year late

This is it! The 2010 NFL season kicks off this evening as my Minnesota Vikings take on the New Orleans Saints, a rematch of that gut-wrenching 2009 NFC title game. Don't think for one second that the Vikings players haven't been thinking about this game 24/7 since the schedule was announced in the Spring.

Interestingly, this isn't the first time the Vikes have opened the season against a team who dashed their postseason hopes just months earlier.

On September 20, 1970, the Vikings hosted the Kansas City Chiefs, the team who throttled the Vikes in Super Bowl IV a mere eight months earlier. Legend has it that prior to that '70 season opener, Vikings coach Bud Grant showed his players video footage of that Super Bowl, specifically the audio bits of Chiefs coach Hank Stram clucking incessantly. It apparently worked as the Vikes stomped Kansas City 27-10.

If you ask any Vikings fan which loss in franchise history was most devastating, a vast majority would retort with the 1998 NFC Championship game loss to the Atlanta Falcons. A 30-27 overtime defeat brought to a bitter end a magical 15-1 season. The following September, the Vikings opened the 1999 regular season in Atlanta. The Vikings were leading 17-14 in the fourth quarter when Atlanta kicker Morten Andersen missed a potential game-tying field goal and the Vikes held on for the win. Rather ironic considering Vikes kicker Gary Anderson missed a field goal in the '98 title game which likely would have clinched a berth in the Super Bowl. But I'm sure we can surmise which was the bigger miss.

So if that quirky trend continues, the Vikings should beat the Saints tonight. And while it would be nice to open the season with a win, it's not much consolation for what took place in January.


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