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Throwin' it Back to '98: Moss Roasts Cowboys in Dynamic Thanksgiving Performance

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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 Week 13 game at Dallas, which was also when Randy Moss made it quite clear that he was going to be a bona fide star by the time his NFL career was over.

The Vikings rookie wide receiver was in the middle of a solid first season with eight touchdown catches in 11 games, but put the league on notice with his Thanksgiving Day performance in Dallas.

Moss, who received his Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence on Sunday night, caught three passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns against a Cowboys defense that included current Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer as the defensive backs coach.

The wide receiver, who was ticked that Dallas passed on him in the 1998 NFL Draft, recorded the first three-touchdown game of his career by hauling in a trio of 50-plus yard touchdowns on national television.

Vikings quarterback Randall Cunningham threw for 359 yards and four total scores and posted a quarterback rating of 111.5 as Minnesota moved to 11-1.

Click here for the first recap in this series (Week 1 vs. Tampa Bay).

Click here for the second recap in this series (Week 2 at St. Louis).

Click here for the third recap in this series (Week 3 vs. Detroit).

Click here for the fourth recap in this series (Week 4 at Chicago).

Click here for the fifth recap in this series (Week 5 at Green Bay).

Click here for the sixth recap in this series (bye week).

Click here for the seventh recap in this series (Week 7 vs. Washington).

Click here for the eighth recap in this series (Week 8 at Detroit).

Click here for the ninth recap in this series (Week 9 at Tampa Bay).

Click here for the 10th recap in this series (Week 10 vs. New Orleans).

Click here for the 11th recap in this series (Week 11 vs. Cincinnati).

Click here for the 12th recap in this series (Week 12 vs. Green Bay).

Vikings 46, Cowboys 36

Weather: Clear skies, slight wind | Temp: 72 degrees Fahrenheit

Paid Attendance: 64,366 | Time of game: 4:15 p.m. (CT)

MIN 21 3 15 7 | 46

DAL 6 6 10 14 | 36

Moss made his presence known on just the fourth play of the game, as the Vikings used a little trickery to score first.

Cunningham handed off to Robert Smith, who faked a run and tossed it back to the quarterback on a flea flicker that enabled Cunningham to hit Moss down the right sideline for a 51-yard touchdown.

Dallas responded with a field goal, but Cunningham struck again when he found Cris Carter for a 54-yard score. The Cowboys added another field goal before Moss broke the game open with a 56-yard touchdown catch late in the first quarter.

Moss simply ran a go route and sped past Cowboys cornerback Kevin Smith, who couldn't keep up with the speedy wide receiver. Cunningham threw it to the 10-yard line, where Moss hauled in the pass and powered his way into the end zone.

The teams then traded scores for the next two quarters before Moss delivered the knockout blow with just seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Moss' final touchdown of the day was another 56-yard score to put Minnesota up by 17 points heading into the fourth quarter.

Leroy Hoard later added a 50-yard touchdown run as the Vikings scored five total touchdowns of 50-plus yards to showcase their explosive offense to the entire country in the national spotlight. The longest of the six Minnesota touchdown drives took just 2 minutes and 28 seconds.

Besides Moss' big day, Carter had seven catches for 135 yards and a score. Hoard ran for 58 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Headline: "Vikings leave only leftovers" (Star Tribune | Nov. 27, 1998)

Quotables

"That was one of the worst days. 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."

– Zimmer to Vikings.com in 2017 about Moss' big day.

Play of the game

There was a reason Moss was called "The SuperFreak," and perhaps there was no touchdown that summed up the nickname more than his final score against Dallas.

Minnesota led 32-22 before the wide receiver caught a simple out route just before midfield.

Moss shrugged off Dallas defensive back Charlie Williams before turning on the burners and racing past Zimmer down the Cowboys sideline.

The wideout got to the 25-yard line before Cowboys defensive back Terry Billups drew near, but Moss faked like he was going to cut back before sprinting down the sideline as Billups could only try to throw a hand out and touch him.

Moss used his strength, speed and agility on the play, attributes that he showed throughout his Hall of Fame career. And he showed the whole world on that Thanksgiving Day.

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