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Throwin' it Back to '98: Vikings Defense Causes Detroit Problems

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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 they 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 with this series with Minnesota's first of two matchups against division-rival Detroit. Although the Lions jumped ahead to an early 6-0 lead, Detroit didn't score the rest of the afternoon as the Vikings defense wreaked havoc and created four turnovers.

The game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome marked Randall Cunningham's first time starting in Purple, after he had taken over for an injured Brad Johnson in the fourth quarter of the previous contest.

Clickherefor the first recap in this series.

Clickherefor the second recap in this series.

Vikings 29, Lions 6

Weather:None (Played in a dome) | Temp:69 degrees Fahrenheit

Paid Attendance: 63,107 | Time of game: Noon (CT)

DET    3 3 0 0 | 6

MIN    0 6 13 10 | 29

The Vikings capped their first two possessions of Week 3 by punting, and the Lions, in turn, finished their first two series with field goals of 37 and 49 yards, respectively.

The Vikings found themselves trailing 6-0 early in the second quarter, but from there the tables turned.

Cunningham handed off twice to Robert Smith on Minnesota's third drive before passing to Andrew Glover, who picked up 15 yards and a first down. Four plays later, Glover snagged another catch, this time for a gain of 14. Two more double-digit plays of 17 and 15 yards were recorded by Greg DeLong and David Palmer, respectively, to keep Minnesota moving.

The Vikings were unable to finish the drive with a touchdown, however, instead looking to Gary Anderson to put Minnesota on the board with a 27-yard field goal.

Field goals were the theme of the day. Anderson hit another one from 28 yards out to tie the game late in the second quarter, and an interception by Robert Griffith at the Vikings 41 halted the Lions with just 19 seconds remaining in the half.

The Vikings defense opened the third quarter with back-to-back tackles for loss by Ed McDaniel and forced a Lions three-and-punt.

The following drive featured one of two Vikings touchdowns on the day; Cunningham found Moss for a five-yard touchdown, the rookie's third score of the season.

A combination of Griffith, who notched three tackles, and a trio of penalties by the Lions resulted in another scoreless series for Detroit, and the Vikings answered with a third field goal by Anderson – this time a 42-yarder – to gain a 16-6 lead.

The Vikings defense again disrupted Detroit when McDaniel forced a fumble by Pete Chryplewicz and recovered the ball at the Lions 11. Minnesota unfortunately was unable to capitalize from the red zone, however, settling instead for a fourth field goal by Anderson, who made it from 29 yards out.

One more turnover caused by Minnesota opened the fourth quarter, when Duane Clemons sacked Charlie Batch for a loss of five yards and a fumble, which was recovered by Torrian Gray and returned 14 yards to the Lions 11.

The Vikings offense this time took advantage of the field position. Cunningham handed off to Leroy Hoard, who ran it in for the touchdown.

Detroit drove nearly the length of the field in an attempt at getting back on the board, but the team went for it on fourth-and-3, and Batch was sacked by John Randle for a loss of 7.

Inside the 2-minute mark, Anderson lined up from 34 yards out and kicked his fifth and final field goal to solidify the Vikings win.

The cherry on top? Corey Fuller intercepted Batch with 1:13 remaining.

Headline: "Lion Tamers" (Star Tribune | Sept. 21, 1998)

Quotable

"I like Moss. Moss made many big plays other than just catching the ball. He made a lot of big plays blocking. Right now, after just watching a game and a couple of films, I believe he's one of the best blocking wide receivers in football. He does all those little things. He looks like he has been playing in the league five or six years." – John Madden was quoted in the Star Tribune

Play of the game  

It's difficult to pick one decisive play in a game that quickly became lopsided, but the Vikings defense as a unit became the day's hero. McDaniel had quite the afternoon, finishing the game with eight tackles (second on the team), 1.5 sacks, 2.0 tackles for loss, one pass defended, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. According to league states, Minnesota totaled 61 tackles (50 solo) in comparison to Detroit's 48.

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