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 11 contest against Cincinnati. Both teams played with two quarterbacks, and the opponents combined for four interceptions. It wasn't pretty, but the Vikings improved to 9-1 on the season thanks to a strong defensive performance.
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).
Click here for the ninth recap in this series (Week 9 at Tampa Bay).
Click here for the 10threcap in this series (Week 10 vs. New Orleans).
Vikings 24, Bengals 3
Weather: None (dome) | Temp: 66 degrees Fahrenheit
Paid Attendance: 64,232 | Time of game: Noon (CT)
CIN 0 3 0 0 | 3
MIN 7 0 7 10 | 24
The Vikings game against the Bengals got off to a slow start, as Minnesota started with the ball but was forced to punt from its own 21. Cincinnati also punted on its first drive.
Minnesota mainly ran the ball on its second drive of the game, with Robert Smith recording 22 rushing yards on five carries. On third-and-goal from the Cincinnati 3, QB Randall Cunningham ran the rock himself and put the Vikings on the board with a touchdown.
The Vikings defense continued to clamp down. The Bengals went for it on fourth-and-2 from the Vikings 40 in hopes of keeping their drive alive, but LB Ed McDaniel stopped a quarterback sneak by Jeff Blake and turned the ball over on downs. Minnesota unfortunately didn't capitalize on the favorable field position and punted.
The Bengals go their sole score of the day early in the second quarter, when Doug Pelfrey kicked a 37-yard field goal.
Holding just a four-point advantage at that point, the Vikings could have been in trouble when Cunningham was picked off by DB Artrell Hawkins. Fortunately for Minnesota, Cincinnati just couldn't get going.
The two teams exchanged punts one more time to end the half at 7-3.
Cincinnati opened the second quarter by punting, and the Vikings drove down to the Bengals 30 before Cunningham was picked off a second time by Hawkins.
On the following drive, the Bengals made it all the way to the Vikings 36, but Bengals QB Neil O'Donnell fumbled during a sack by Vikings DT John Randle. Vikings LB Dwayne Rudd recovered the fumble and returned it 63 yards for a touchdown to give Minnesota a 14-3 edge.
From that point on, the Vikings rode momentum through the end of the game.
After a three-and-out by Cincinnati, Minnesota capped a drive with a 32-yard field goal by Gary Anderson.
The Vikings defense came up big again early in the fourth quarter, when CB Jimmy Hitchcock intercepted Blake and returned it 34 yards before he was pushed out of bounds. On the following play, Cunningham connected with WR Randy Moss for a 61-yard touchdown that essentially put the game away.
A desperate Bengals squad went on fourth-and-12 and was nearly successful, but Vikings S Robert Griffith tackled WR Darnay Scott after an 11-yard gain.
The Vikings subbed in Jay Fiedler at quarterback to finish the day, and he was intercepted on his second pass by Bengals S Sam Shade.
Another Bengals drive, another unsuccessful fourth-down attempt.
Fiedler handed off to Leroy Hoard five times and then knelt in victory formation for the Vikings ninth win of the season.
Headline: Visitors flunk viability test (Star Tribune | Nov. 16, 1998)
"Eddie [McDaniel] gave us a spirited talk and really got us up. It got us thinking about what we need to do. You know, we have to win some games, too. It's nice to have this explosive offense, but it's our job to win some games, too."
– Defensive tackle Jerry Ball
"That's so much like our team now. If the offense isn't working, the defense WILL step up."
– Quarterback Randall Cunningham
Play of the Game:
Rudd's scoop-and-score after Randle's strip sack of O'Donnell swung the momentum to the Vikings side after a rocky first half. The explosive defensive play gave Minnesota the spark it needed to ride to a win over a struggling Cincinnati team.
"It was a momentum-changer," Rudd said. "Everything really fell into place."