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Mike Zimmer: 'Never Against Him Again'

Posted Sep 7, 2017

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer spent 13 seasons as a coach in Dallas, which meant his team was in the national spotlight 13 times on Thanksgiving Day.

The Cowboys went 7-6 on the holiday when Zimmer was on the staff, but there’s a loss that stands out among the rest. It’s one that lives in infamy, and thanks to a few clicks on YouTube, in perpetuity.

The year was 1998 and Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss, ticked off about not being drafted by Dallas, was out for payback.

On Moss’ third touchdown of the day, he streaked by the Dallas sideline as Zimmer, who was then the Cowboys defensive backs coach, could only watch with his arms crossed, making an unplanned cameo in Moss’ highlight flick.

“That was one of the worst days,” Zimmer recalled with a chuckle. “The size and length that he had was unbelievable. 

“It made it really difficult because you had to double team him on every play, but now you’re opening things up in other areas,” Zimmer added. “If you didn’t pay attention to him, he’d beat you in a hurry. He was an unbelievable athlete.”

Moss had three catches for 163 yards and three scores that day, but that wasn’t the only time he perplexed Zimmer.

Moss lined up against a Zimmer defense six times in his career and produced staggering results — 29 total catches for 607 yards and nine touchdowns.

Zimmer tried to prepare his defense any way possible, including having scout team wide receivers line up two yards in front of the line of scrimmage in practice to simulate the effect of Moss’ speed and quickness.

Zimmer said Moss ranks in the top tier of greatest wide receivers of all-time, but ranks first on his list of wide outs who gave him the biggest headaches. 

“At his position? Probably,” Zimmer said. “Quarterbacks and running backs are pretty good, but as a wide receiver, he was definitely really hard to defend.

“He had unbelievable hand-eye coordination and ball skills,” Zimmer added.

There’s also one other thing that Zimmer is sure about. He’s glad he no longer has to game plan for No. 84 in Purple.

“I’m glad he’s retired,” Zimmer said with a laugh. “I never want to play against him again.

“When he had the ball in his hands,” Zimmer added, “he could do anything he wanted.”