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Comparison of the Minnesota Vikings' NFC Runner-Up Teams

Minnesota Vikings | Comparison of NFC Championship Seasons
© Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings took two different paths to the NFC Championship games in the 2009 and 2017 seasons. In the 2009 season, they lost to the New Orleans Saints. In the 2017 NFC title tilt, the Philadelphia Eagles vanquished them. While certain aspects of the two seasons are comparable, there are notable contrasts.

Minnesota Vikings 2009 Season

The Vikings' 2009 season was coach Brad Childress' fourth at the helm. The team's quarterback situation was unsettled until Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre signed a two-year deal after playing 16 seasons with the Green Bay Packers and one with the New York Jets.

Minnesota kicked off the season with two straight road wins against the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions. In their next contest against the San Francisco 49ers, Greg Lewis made a dramatic game-winning catch from Favre with two seconds left on the clock. The Vikings then reeled off consecutive wins against the Packers, St. Louis Rams and Baltimore Ravens. Thus, the Favre era in Minnesota got off to an impressive 6-0 start.

In their following game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, the Steelers handed them their first loss of the season. However, the Purple and Gold rebounded in an emotionally charged game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Favre and the Vikings dismantled the Packers before a crowd of unruly and unhappy Cheeseheads.

After a bye, the Vikings went on to win their next three games against the Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears. Their record at that point was 10-1.

After starting the season with a bang, the Vikings skidded to the end of the regular season, finishing with a 12-4 record and the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Then Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys came to Minneapolis for a divisional matchup and were overwhelmed by the Vikings in a lopsided 34-3 affair.

Following that triumph, Minnesota advanced to the NFC championship game for the ninth time in team history. Their opponent was the Saints, led by Drew Brees and Reggie Bush. It was a closely contested game. Tied 28-28 late in the fourth quarter, Favre led the Vikings down the field into Saints territory. However, as they drew near field goal range, the team was flagged for having too many men on the field. On the play right after that penalty, a Favre pass was intercepted and the game went into overtime. The Saints won the coin toss and never looked back. Brees drove the team down the field to set up kicker Garrett Hartley for a game-winning 40-yeard field goal. The Saints went on to win the Super Bowl against the Indianapolis Colts.

Minnesota Vikings
© Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings 2017 Season

The Vikings entered the 2017 season under coach Mike Zimmer who, like Childress in 2009, was entering his fourth season in charge of the team. It was their first season in over a decade without star running back Adrian Peterson on their roster. They were also confronted with a quarterback issue right off the bat when Sam Bradford was injured in Week One and Case Keenum had to step in during a Monday Night Football showdown against the Saints. They prevailed 29-19, but Bradford was sidelined.

Although the Steelers defeated Keenum and the Vikings 26-9 at Heinz Field the following week, Keenum led Minnesota to five wins in the next six games and a 6-2 record going into the team's bye week. Thereafter, the Keenum-led Vikings reeled off four consecutive wins against Washington, the Los Angeles Rams, the Lions and the Atlanta Falcons, improving to 10-2. They finished the season 13-3 and, just as in the 2009 season, received the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.

Once again, the Vikings met Brees and the Saints in the playoffs, but this time Minnesota got the better of New Orleans. In a remarkable game, the Vikings trailed 24-23 with 25 seconds left on a third-and-10. They had no timeouts left. On their own 39-yard line, Keenum heaved a desperation throw to Stefon Diggs who dramatically reeled it in and ran into the end zone. The exhilarating victory vaulted the Vikings into the NFC title game.

The conference title game lacked the excitement and theatrics of the Vikings' preceding game. The Eagles drubbed the Vikings 38-7 and earned a trip to the Super Bowl against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Comparison and Contrast

Thus, in both the 2009 and 2017 seasons, the Vikings made it to the NFC title games but took different paths there. In both seasons, the Vikings were led by fourth-year head coaches and were seeded No. 2 in the playoffs. However, in 2009, a Hall-of-Famer led the Vikings to the penultimate contest, whereas a backup QB led them there in 2019. Although the 2009 conference title game went down to the wire, the 2019 championship game was a blowout. In both seasons the Vikings came up just short of making it back to the Super Bowl for the fifth time in franchise history.


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