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Throwin' it Back to '98: Vikings Falter in 4th Quarter for 1st Loss

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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, in 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 9 contest at Tampa Bay, where for the first – and only – time that season, the Vikings were defeated. Jake Reed scored twice, and Robert Smith added a rushing touchdown, but 10 points scored by the Buccaneers in the fourth quarter edged out the Vikings.

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 herefor 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).

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Buccaneers 27, Vikings 24

Weather: Partly cloudy | Temp: 83 degrees Fahrenheit

Paid Attendance: 64,979 | Time of game: Noon (CT)

MIN 7 10 7 0 | 24

TAM 7 10 0 10 | 27

The 7-0 Vikings traveled to hot and humid Tampa in hopes of extending their win streak against a Buccaneers squad led by Head Coach Tony Dungy, who previously had been the Vikings defensive coordinator (1992-95) under Head Coach Dennis Green.

Tampa Bay won the toss, elected to receive and struck first against the undefeated Vikings with a 10-yard touchdown by running back Warrick Dunn.

The Vikings answered just as quickly, however, driving down the field in under five minutes and evened the score with a 9-yard rushing touchdown by Robert Smith.

The two teams went back and forth in an offensive battle, exchanging touchdowns on the first four drives of the game. The Buccaneers took the lead again early in the second quarter when wide receiver Reidel Anthony found the end zone, and Vikings quarterback Randall Cunningham connected with wide receiver Jake Reed for a 44-yard score.

With the game tied at 14, Tampa Bay drove down inside the Minnesota 15. Dunn caught a pass in the end zone from quarterback Trent Dilfer, but the touchdown was nullified by an offensive pass interference penalty called on Bert Emmanuel. The penalty pushed the Buccaneers to third-and-20, and Dunn was stopped after a 12-yard gain on the following play.

Michael Husted kicked a 29-yard field goal, and the Buccaneers took a 17-14 lead.

On the Vikings next series, they responded with a 45-yard field goal themselves to once again tie it up heading into halftime.

Minnesota opened up the third quarter with a steady drive capped off by a 1-yard touchdown catch by Reed.

The first scoreless drive occurred on the Buccaneers following possession. On third-and-goal from the 5, Dunn rushed up the middle but was stopped for no gain by John Randle and Ed McDaniel. Tampa Bay opted to go for it on fourth-and-goal, but Dilfer's pass to Anthony was incomplete.

The Vikings entered the fourth quarter with a 24-17 lead, but the final 15 minutes didn't go their way.

Cunningham threw an interception, just his third of the season. The pick was grabbed by Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks, who returned it 25 yards to the Vikings 23-yard line. Minnesota's defense held Tampa Bay out of the end zone, but Husted kicked a 38-yard field goal to shrink the deficit from seven to four.

On the following possession, the Vikings found themselves lining up for the first punt (by either team) of the game.

The Buccaneers took over with just under 10 minutes remaining and got down to the Minnesota 6. Dilfer handed off to Mike Alstott, and the fullback ran it in for the final score of the day.

And with that, the Vikings win streak was snapped.

Headline: Forget this loss; Vikings are fine (Star Tribune | Nov. 2, 1998)

Quotables:

"We were playing well early on, and we just didn't play well late in the game. You could blame penalties, you could blame all kinds of things, bottom line is we just didn't play well enough to win. The only thing it ruins is a chance for a perfect season. We go 7-1 again here at the end, and we'll be sitting in pretty good shape at 14-2."

– Running back Robert Smith

"It was a shootout where whoever got the ball at the end of the game wins the game. They got the best of us today. But we humbly accept this loss, and we'll just keep on going. It's not going to knock us down. It's not going to knock us out."

– Quarterback Randall Cunningham

Play of the Game:

Cunningham finished the game 21-of-25 passing for 291 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 125.2 – all respectable numbers.

The one pick Cunningham threw, however, swung the momentum back to Tampa Bay in an already close contest. The Vikings worked to hang on to a 1-point lead after Husted's final field goal, but penalties on both of their last two series worked against them, and it was the Buccaneers who capitalized on Minnesota's mistakes.

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