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Throwin' it Back to '98: Vikings Perfect in Red Zone in Rout of Washington

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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 7 game against Washington, where a rested and ready Vikings team cruised to a lopsided win near the nation's capital.

Minnesota entered the game at 6-0 after having not played the previous week due to its bye week. The time off clearly helped the Vikings, who put up 41 points, which at the time was their highest output of the season.

Running back Robert Smith led the way with 103 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries while fellow running back Leroy Hoard scored twice on the ground. Quarterback Randall Cunningham threw a pair of scores.

Defensively, the Vikings racked up five sacks and an interception while holding Washington quarterback Gus Frerotte to a quarterback rating of 36.9.

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.

Click herefor the fifth recap in this series.

Click here for the sixth recap in this series.

Vikings 41, Redskins 7

Weather: None (dome) | Temp: 62 degrees Fahrenheit

Paid Attendance: 64,004| Time of game: Noon (CT)

WASH 7 0 0 0 | 7

MIN 14 7 3 17 | 41

Believe it or not, the Vikings actually trailed early on in this one.

The Vikings went three-and-out to open the game, and Washington followed suit. But Moss fumbled the ensuing punt, which Washington recovered at the 2-yard line before scoring on the next play.

It was all Minnesota after that, as the Vikings ripped off 41 unanswered points and walloped Washington.

Perhaps the most impressive stat of the day was that the high-powered Vikings offense delivered where it mattered most, going a perfect 5-for-5 in the red zone.

Cunningham threw an 11-yard score to Andrew Glover to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter before Hoard gave Minnesota the lead for good with a 1-yard rushing touchdown a few minutes later.

Cunningham added a 1-yard touchdown pass to Carter before Gary Anderson added a field goal and Smith scored on the ground from 19 yards out to ensure that the rout was on.

Anderson kicked another field goal, and Hoard scored once again from the 1-yard line to give the Vikings a convincing win over Washington, a team that would finish 6-10 and in fourth place in the NFC East.

Not only was the scoreboard tilted, but the Vikings also dominated on the stat sheet on both sides of the ball.

The high-octane Vikings racked up 435 yards of offense, a total that ended up only being their fifth-best output during the regular season. Minnesota also converted on 10 of 17 third-down attempts, good for a 59-percent clip.

Cunningham, who wasn't sacked on the afternoon, threw for 288 yards and had a passer rating of 102.5. Carter had five catches for 109 yards and a score while Moss had five receptions for 64 yards.

Minnesota's defense, meanwhile, limited Washington to just 177 total yards on 53 plays. That was the lowest number of yards given up by the Vikings all season.

Defensive end Duane Clemons led the way with 1.5 sacks while Torrian Gray and Derrick Alexander each had a sack, as well. Three different Vikings had 0.5 sacks on the day.

The Vikings defense allowed just a pair of third-down conversions on 14 attempts, and Washington punter Matt Turk had eight punts on the day.

The breezy win moved the Vikings to 6-0 on the season and was one of Minnesota's most lopsided victories of 1998.

There would be other big wins still to come.

Headline: "Yawn … next!" (Star Tribune | Oct. 19, 1998)

Quotables

"I think this says we're humble and we're hungry and we're not looking past anybody. This was by far not a perfect game for us. We have a lot to improve on." – Duane Clemons quoted in the Star Tribune

Play of the game

It was only a two-score game when Washington and Frerotte received the ball to start the second half.

But that opening drive of the third quarter was thwarted when cornerback Corey Fuller made a diving interception at midfield.

That sparked an impressive second-half performance by Minnesota's defense as the unit allowed 98 total yards on 28 second-half plays while shutting out Washington.

The takeaway was the lone interception of the day for the Vikings, but it set the tone for a second-half rout as a 14-point lead ballooned to a 34-point advantage by the time regulation ended.

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