In less than two weeks, this year's Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees will be announced at the NFL Honors program on Feb. 3.
Two former Vikings – Randy Moss and Steve Hutchinson – are among the 15 modern-era finalists for this year's induction class. NFL.com's Elliot Harrison pinpointed a "defining moment" for each former player, starting the list with Moss. Harrison wrote:
Forget the record-breaking season with the Patriots in 2007. Or the giant Afro and gargantuan numbers in 2003. The blind flip that looked more like a H-O-R-S-E shot from your grandpa's backyard hoop to Moe Williams was neat. Who could forget him beating Darrelle Revis – back when Revis Island was still a thing – by a country mile, then catching the ball with one hand?
Harrison said that while the above moments are "nice," Moss is considered a first-ballot Hall of Famer "because he was so good right out of the gate."
The embodiment of his first-year dominance came on Thanksgiving Day 1998 at Texas Stadium, when Moss caught three balls for 163 yards and three touchdowns. You know when you hear the expression, "a tour de force performance"? Yep, that day in Dallas served notice to the rest of the league.
For Hutchinson, Harrison also highlighted an earlier part of his career. Before donning Vikings Purple, the guard spent five seasons with the Seahawks.
*Mid-1990s pro football already seems like a distant memory. Teams weren't in the spread and shotgun all the time. Running backs were still running for 1,800 yards. Dudes even wore real pads. Well, in 2005, no guard got under anyone's pad level or paved the way for the league's leading rusher better than Steve Hutchinson. As a part of a tandem in Seattle with left tackle Walter Jones (who is already in the Hall of Fame), Hutchinson dominated the right side of all defensive fronts, taking on all comers on the road to the Super Bowl. In fact, they were THE best tandem in pro football, perhaps since Joe Jacoby and Russ Grimm of the famous "Hogs" of the '80s. *
PFF Tabs Hunter, McKinnon as highest-graded Vikings in NFC Championship game
The Vikings fell to the Eagles in the NFC Championship game after uncharacteristic mistakes occurred on both offense and defense.
In looking back over individual performances, analytics site Pro Football Focus highlighted Danielle Hunter and Jerick McKinnon as Minnesota's highest-performing players in Philadelphia. The analysis team called Hunter, who received an overall grade of 80.6, "a bright spot on the defense" and wrote the following:
Minnesota didn't get much pressure on the quarterback, but when they did it was usually Hunter being the one who got there. He accounted for over one-third of the Vikings total pressures. He also led the team with five defensive stops, a season-high for Hunter.
On offense, McKinnon received a grade of 71.7.
McKinnon accounted for most of the Vikings offense, accumulating 86 yards in the passing game and rushing for 40 yards. Even though a chunk of his receptions came late in the fourth quarter in garbage time, he still caught 11 of the 12 passes thrown his way. Most of the Vikings offensive weapons were neutralized, as Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen were held to a combined 98 yards on 20 targets.
Stars from Senior Bowl Day 1
Elite draft-eligible prospects invited to the 2018 Reese's Senior Bowl participated in their first practices on Tuesday.
NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks, who are both former scouts, compiled some notes about prospects that shined Tuesday.
Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, Iowa State WR Allen Lazard, Dubuque CB Michael Joseph, Fort Hays State DT Nathan Shepherd and Stanford DT Harrison Phillips and UTEP G Will Hernandez were mentioned by Jeremiah and Brooks.