As part of the NFL's celebration of its 100th season, Vikings.com is producing 10 different top 10 lists over the course of the 2019 season to help commemorate 100 special moments in franchise history. We'll cover legendary players, rivalry games and miraculous moments alike. We began with the top 10 seasons in franchise history and followed with the top 10 moments against the Packers, top 10 moments against the Bears and top 10 rookie seasons in Vikings history.
As the Vikings prepare for their 116th all-time contest against the Lions, we tackled the top 10 matchups between Minnesota and Detroit.
Our votes were all over the board on this one.
Games stretched from the Vikings first-ever defeat of the Lions in 1963 to Thanksgiving Day 2017, when Minnesota recorded its seventh of eight consecutive victories.
After working through games between the Vikings and Lions through team history, I compiled a list of 10 games I felt were most note-worthy. Craig Peters, Eric Smith and I then awarded 10 points for a first-place vote, nine for second place, and so on – meaning that 30 points is the highest possible total – to determine the final top 10.
The voting resulted in a three-way tie for first place with 22 points apiece. We decided a tie-breaker was necessary, so we consulted Vikings Director of Alumni & Youth Football Communications Tom West, who assigned point totals of 3, 2 and 1.
Based on Tom's tie-breaking vote, the Vikings 1969 shutout of Detroit, which occurred in Minnesota's first Thanksgiving Day game, took the title. Find out what else made our top 10:
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Lions.
1. Thanksgiving Day Shutout | Nov. 27, 1969 (25 points)
The Vikings shut-out the Lions 27-0 at Tiger Stadium, thanks to solid performances on all three phases.
Dave Osborn and Oscar Reed scored a touchdown apiece, and Fred Cox hit field goals from 41 and 38 yards out. But the best-known play from the snowy game occurred when Jim Marshall intercepted Lions QB Greg Landry and sprinted down the field. When it became clear he would be stopped by running back Nick Eddy, Marshall pitched a wrap-around, no-look lateral to future Hall of Famer Alan Page, who ran it in for the touchdown.
The win marked Minnesota's 10th straight and clinched the Central Division title.
Following the game, Head Coach Bud Grant gave credit to Cox and punter Bob Lee for "keeping Detroit in the hole" all day via field position.
2. Cris Carter's 1,000th Catch | Nov. 30, 2000 (24 points)
Wide receiver and future Hall of Famer Cris Carter entered the Thursday night contest with 995 career receptions to his name.
Fans at the Metrodome counted down to his 1,000th catch with large, numbered cards that could be changed out.
Carter caught four short passes from Daunte Culpepper in the first quarter. On the very first play of the second quarter, he hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass to become the second player to ever reach the impressive milestone.
"It's hard for me to put into words," Carter said after the game. "When I saw the sign [updating my reception totals], it was almost like I was looking at somebody else's life. It's hard for me to believe that it's me. … It's unbelievable. It's the greatest compliment I have ever had and the most humbling thing I've ever seen. Especially my teammates … they didn't say much during the week, but as we got here, everybody was saying, 'Come on, let's do it.' "
Robert Smith also had a big outing, racking up 115 rushing yards and two touchdowns during the game attended by Michael Jordan in a Metrodome suite. The Vikings prevailed 24-17 to sweep the series against Detroit.
3. Thanksgiving Day Feast | Nov. 23, 2017 (23 points)
"Rudolph" is a name often heard during the month of December, but Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph put on quite the holiday show for Thanksgiving.
He had just four catches during the game, but each one proved significant in Minnesota's 30-23 defeat of Detroit after falling to the division rival earlier that season.
Two of Rudolph's grabs were for touchdowns from quarterback Case Keenum, who finished the day 21-of-30 passing for 282 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions with a passer rating of 121.8. Keenum also had a rushing touchdown, after which seemingly the entire offense celebrated with a "Thanksgiving dinner" in the end zone.
"We knew it would be tough to come in here and get a win. The Lions are great, not only at home but especially on Thanksgiving," Rudolph said following the game. "And we experienced first-hand last year how hard it is to come in here and get a win. So it's big."
The Vikings went on to finish the 2017 campaign 13-3 and advance to the NFC Championship Game.
4. Sammy Soars and Scores | Nov. 7, 1976 (21 points)
Have a day, Sammy White.
The Vikings receiver racked up seven catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions, helping Minnesota to a 31-23 win over Detroit.
White also committed a blunder, however, when he held the football over his head and fumbled a would-be touchdown during a close game.
Tarkenton did, and White redeemed himself with a 37-yard yard touchdown catch to seal the Vikings win.
Tarkenton was 17-of-25 passing for 347 yards, two touchdowns and one interception with a passer rating of 120.8. Running back Chuck Foreman also scored a pair of touchdowns on short runs.
Despite the one potentially costly mistake, White received the game ball for his performance. Klobuchar wrote:
[White] rang his parents in Monroe and was asked the question, generic among mothers from the sunrise of creation. She spoke it solicitously, but with an edge of reproof.
"Son," she said, "did you learn anything today?"
5. Gone in a Snap | Dec. 19, 2004 (18 points)
Nate Burleson and Randy Moss combined for 236 yards through the air en route to a narrow defeat of Detroit.
Burleson caught all five passes thrown his way for 134 yards and two touchdowns, while Moss totaled four catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Daunte Culpepper completed 25 of 35 passes and racked up 404 yards and three touchdowns for a passer rating of 126.4.
Despite the impressive Vikings performance, the Lions kept the game within reach.
Roy Williams scored on a 1-yard pass from Joey Harrington to give Detroit the opportunity to tie the game, but a botched snap on the PAT allowed Minnesota to sneak away with the 28-27 win.
6. Good-bye, Metrodome | Dec. 29, 2013 (17 points)
After 32 seasons as the Vikings home, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome hosted its final game on Dec. 29. 2013, when the Vikings defeated the Lions 14-13.
Rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson stole the show in Minnesota's narrow win, scoring two touchdowns on the day. He put the Vikings on the board late in the first quarter with an impressive scramble that resulted in a 50-yard touchdown.
Patterson later caught the go-ahead touchdown pass from Matt Cassel in the fourth quarter.
Running back Matt Asiata filled in for an injured Peterson and racked up 115 yards on 14 carries. Lions quarterback Matt Stafford was sacked five times, including two by defensive end Jared Allen, who passed the double-digit mark for the seventh straight season.
The Vikings held a special ceremony during halftime, during which Hall of Fame Coach Bud Grant waved a final goodbye to venue that opened in 1982 during his tenure.
7. Rice Racks 'Em Up | Nov. 15, 2009 (13 points)
Sidney Rice didn't score a touchdown in the Vikings 27-10 defeat of the Lions, but he certainly helped Minnesota move the ball.
Former division rival Brett Favre and Rice put on quite the show at the Metrodome, connecting seven times for 201 yards, including a 56-yard play. The deep ball set up a short touchdown pass to Jeff Dugan, which put the game on ice for Minnesota and moved the Vikings a game closer to the NFC North title.
"Anyone can be stopped, but he sure is difficult to cover," Favre said of Rice. "The types of plays he makes, I think, is what we all expect him to do."
Added Peterson: "Sidney never surprises me. I have a nickname for him, and it's 'Showtime.' He's got it tattooed on his arm. It fits him well."
8. Adrian's Big Day | Nov. 11, 2012 (12 points)
On a day when the Vikings netted 403 yards, Peterson played a large part.
The Vikings were without Percy Harvin and relied heavily on the running back. Peterson delivered as he did multiple times that season.
Peterson topped 100 yards for the fourth consecutive game, totaling 171 yards on 27 carries. His most impressive play of the day came on a 61-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that helped lift the Vikings to an eventual 34-24 victory, despite Detroit attempting one of its "trademarked" late-game rallies.
Minnesota's defense shined in the contest, as well, limiting the Lions to just 60 yards on the ground, and Chad Greenway snagged his first interception since the 2009 season to stop a first-quarter Detroit drive and swing momentum back toward the Vikings. Everson Griffen and Kevin Williams each sacked Stafford, and Antoine Winfield led the team with 10 tackles (eight solo).
"Stop the run, get off the field on third downs and create turnovers," Greenway said.
9. First Defeat of Detroit | Nov. 24, 1963 (10 points)
After falling 28-10 to the Lions earlier in the season, the Vikings notched their first-ever win against the franchise when they walked away with the upper hand on a 34-31 contest.
The game took place just two days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and 20,000 copies of The Star Stangled Banner were distributed to the crowd at Metropolitan Stadium.
Fred Cox made field goals from 14 and 17 yards out, rookie receiver Paul Flatley racked up 174 receiving yards, and Tommy Wilson and Gordie Smith scored a touchdown apiece. Running back Tommy Mason, the Vikings first draft pick when the franchise was founded in 1961, made it into the end zone twice, including on a late-game, 2-yard score to give Minnesota the win.
En route to the victory, the Vikings tied their own NFL record by recovering six Lions fumbles, a mark they first set in their inaugural season against the 49ers.
Additional note: Honored at halftime were three original members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, all of whom shared Minnesota ties: Bronko Nagurski, Ernie Nevers and Johnny (Blood) McNally.
10. Wilson Winds Up | Nov. 6, 1988 (8 points)
Quarterback Wade Wilson finished the afternoon with a career-high 391 passing yards, and Anthony Carter made eight catches for 188 yards. Among those eight were grabs of 40, 32 and 28 yards.
"It wasn't necessarily by design," Wilson said of the big throws to Carter. "When you get into a scramble situation, he turns little plays into big plays. It's always nice to be on the throwing end of one of them."
Lions coach Darryl Rogers said after the game: "I thought Wade Wilson was a very good quarterback coming in, but I don't know if he was as good a quarterback as we allowed him to be."
The Vikings totaled 553 yards on offense, which was third-highest in team history, and set a franchise time-of-possession record by having the football for 41:09.
Minnesota limited Detroit to 89 net yards, only 21 of which were through the air.