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Throwin' it Back to '98: 4 TDs, Pair of Picks Help Vikings Dominate Packers

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This season, the Vikings are commemorating the 20thanniversary of the 1998 team.

Minnesota went 15-1 during the 1998 regular season, during which it set a then-NFL scoring record with 556 points. Randy Moss came on the scene and caught 17 touchdown passes, the most-ever by a rookie. He combined with Cris Carter and Jake Reed to form "Three Deep."

For each week of the 2018 regular season, we'll throw it back to 1998 and take a look at each of the Vikings 16 games.

We'll continue this series with Minnesota's first of two matchups against division-rival Green Bay, in which the Border Battle featured a pair of undefeated teams.

The Vikings traveled to Lambeau Field and got the game in hand early, heading into halftime with a 14-point lead. On an evening where all phases played well for Minnesota, the defense was led by Robert Griffith, who intercepted Brett Favre twice to bring his season total to five picks.

"I've never seen a team more focused.… Everybody was clued in," Griffith recently recalled. "We went out there, and we showed them. It was Oct. 5, 1998. I'll never forget that day. It was a good day."

Moss racked up 190 yards on just five catches, three of which were for touchdowns, and Carter also broke the 100-yard mark, totaling eight catches for 119 yards through the air.

Click here for the first recap in this series.

Click here for the second recap in this series.

Click here for the third recap in this series.

Click here for the fourth recap in this series.

Vikings 37, Packers 24

Weather: Light fog, scattered showers | Temp: 58 degrees Fahrenheit

Paid Attendance: 59,849 | Time of game: 7:20 p.m. (CT)

GB 0 10 0 14 | 24

MIN 3 21 3 10 | 37

The Vikings and Packers each boasted a 4-0 record when they took the Monday Night Football stage at Lambeau Field, and for a short period of time, the teams were neck-and-neck.

Green Bay won the coin toss and elected to receive. Despite a few double-digit gains, however, the Packers were unable to make it much past midfield before being forced by the Vikings defense to punt.

The Vikings put together a seven-minute drive that would have ended quicker, but a holding penalty nullified an incredible 75-yard touchdown pass from Randall Cunningham to Moss. The team continued to move down the field but was forced to settle for a field goal when David Palmer was stopped one yard short of the markers on third-and-7. Gary Anderson knocked through a 33-yarder to put Minnesota on the board first, and the Vikings never looked back.

Green Bay answered with a field goal of its own to open the second quarter. Just 14 seconds later, however, Cunningham connected with Reed for a 56-yard touchdown.

Mitch Berger kicked off following the score, and Green Bay's Roell Preston returned the kick 101 yards to once again even the score.

As if the Vikings were saying, "That's enough," Cunningham threw another deep ball four plays into the next drive, hitting Moss for a 52-yard touchdown – and this time, the points were not called back.

The rival teams swapped turnovers in the next two series. On first-and-10 from the Minnesota 34, Favre's pass was intercepted by Orlando Thomas at the 8-yard line and returned back to the 35. The Vikings took over on offense, but Cunningham attempted a quarterback sneak on third-and-2 and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Packers safety LeRoy Butler.

After a 9-yard gain by Travis Jervey on first down, the Vikings defense went to work. On three consecutive attempts, the Packers were unable to move the chains the necessary yard and punted the ball back to Minnesota.

One, two, three, four plays was all it took once again for Cunningham to strike. This time, he found Robert Smith for a 24-yard touchdown, two plays after a 41-yard catch by Moss, and the Vikings headed into the half leading 24-10.

The second half belonged to Griffith.

The safety intercepted Favre twice, the first time in the end zone to foil Favre's touchdown pass attempt. The second time, Griffith picked off Favre early in the fourth quarter on just the second play of the Packers drive.

Meanwhile, Anderson kicked two more field goals for Minnesota from 25 and 19 yards out, respectively.

Just three minutes into the fourth quarter, Moss put a nail in Green Bay's coffin with a 44-yard touchdown from Cunningham to extend Minnesota's lead to 17.

The Packers did manage to find the end zone twice after that, once by Tyrone Davis and once by Bill Schroeder – both of which were thrown by Green Bay's backup quarterback Doug Pederson – but it was too little, too late.

The Vikings headed back to Minneapolis still undefeated and with their heads held high.

Headline: "Grilled Cheese" (Star Tribune | Oct. 6, 1998)

Quotables

"There's a lot of criticism throughout the world about Randy Moss, and I think I turned some heads tonight. There are a lot of people who want to see me fail, and that's not going to happen." – Randy Moss quoted in the Star Tribune

"[Randy] has an innate ability to adjust to the ball in the air. And he has this amazing knack of keeping his hands low and letting the ball drop into them, when the defensive back doesn't even know the ball is coming. I saw him do that – keep his hands low – a few times, and I said, 'No, you can't do it that way.' And he did it about nine times, and caught every ball, I said, 'OK, that works.' " – Brian Billick quoted in the Star Tribune

Play of the game

The Monday Night Football game featured a handful of impressive plays by the Vikings, including Griffith's interceptions and Moss' touchdowns.

What may have really gotten the Vikings offense running, however, was Reed's 56-yard touchdown early in the second quarter. Reed, whom commentator Al Michaels called "the forgotten man" during the television broadcast, perfectly tracked the ball, made the catch in stride and was able to shake the coverage of Craig Newsome to make it to the end zone. The play marked Reed's first touchdown of the year. He scored three more that season.

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