This season, the Vikings are commemorating the 20th anniversary 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 14 contest against Chicago. The Vikings swept the division series with a rout of the Bears, during which Moss stole the show with eight catches for 106 yards and three touchdowns. _
Running back Leroy Hoard proved effective on the ground and through the air; he tallied 19 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown and added 63 receiving yards and a score on just four catches.
Quarterback Randall Cunningham was 21-of-31 passing for 349 yards, four touchdowns and one interception, and Minnesota’s offensive line didn’t allow a sack.
On the other side, the Vikings defense sacked Bears quarterback Steve Stenstrom three times. Stenstrom finished 25-of-42 passing for 303 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The Vikings steamrolled without three starters: Jake Reed, Robert Smith and Cris Carter. Carter suffered a calf injury during pregame warmups and came out after the game’s first play, snapping his streak of 111 games with a reception.
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).
Click here for the 13th recap in this series (Week 13 vs. Dallas).
Vikings 48, Bears 22
Weather: None (dome) | Temp: 65 degrees Fahrenheit
Paid Attendance: 64,247 | Time of game: 7:20 p.m. (CT)
CHI 0 0 14 8 | 22
MIN 14 13 7 14 | 48
The Vikings made a statement on their first drive.
On first-and-10 from the 24, Cunningham connected with Moe Williams on a screen pass that turned into a 64-yard play. Two plays later, he found Moss for a 6-yard score.
The Bears started out with a three-and-punt, and the Vikings went on another touchdown drive, this time a 24-yard pass from Cunningham to Hoard gave Minnesota a 14-0 lead.
After another scoreless series by Chicago, Minnesota was stalled on the Bears 17-yard line, but Gary Anderson kicked a 30-yard field goal to widen the gap. The Bears just couldn’t get anything going, once again going three-and-out and giving the Vikings back the ball for another field goal by Anderson, this one from 20 yards out.
The next three possessions ended with consecutive punts by the Bears, Vikings and Bears again.
Minnesota controlled the ball for the final three minutes of the half, and Cunningham connected with Moss for a 3-yard touchdown with under 30 seconds remaining.
The division rivals entered halftime with the Vikings leading 27-0 and the Bears having totaled just 13 yards from scrimmage.
Chicago came out in the third quarter with an agenda, but it was too little, too late. Receiver Bobby Engram, who had just one catch at the half, caught three passes for 75 yards on the Bears drive, including a 47-yard deep ball for the touchdown that put Chicago on the board.
The Vikings answered back with Moss’ third touchdown of the day, a 34-yard pass from Cunningham.
As the clock ran down, so did the Bears chances of getting back in the game. They were forced to go for it on fourth-and-8, but a Stenstrom pass landed incomplete.
The Vikings took over at their own 11, but Cunningham’s first pass was intercepted by cornerback Walt Harris. Chicago successfully converted on fourth downs twice in the ensuing series, and running back Edgar Bennett got in the end zone on a 5-yard run.
The third quarter ended with both teams punting and the Vikings up 34-14.
The Bears actually were an impressive 4-of-6 on fourth-down attempts in the second half, but they couldn’t slow the Vikings.
To open the final quarter, Hoard recorded rushed for an 8-yard touchdown to further cement the game for Minnesota.
Chicago drove down to the Minnesota 7, but Stenstrom fumbled. The ball was recovered by Vikings linebacker Dwayne Rudd, who tore down the field 94 yards for a touchdown. Rudd was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct when he paused at the 5, wagged his finger at the Bears and then tiptoed over the goal line.
The Bears snuck in one more score for the day, when Stenstrom rushed four yards up the middle for a touchdown with under three minutes remaining. He then connected with Chris Penn for the 2-point conversion.
Still not giving up, Chicago kicked and recovered an onside kick in a last-ditch effort to claw its way back. The Bears put together a decent drive, but on third-and-4 from the Vikings 5, Stenstrom was intercepted by Jimmy Hitchcock.
Jay Fiedler took a knee twice in the victory formation, and the Vikings improved to 12-1 on the season.
Headline: Scoring is made-to-order mission for Moss (Star Tribune | Dec. 6, 1998)
“I just run, and I run hard. And you see who can last the longest. I’m going to keep coming. And if they get tired of hitting me, I’ll be OK. If they don’t get tired of hitting me, then we’ve got some issues.”
– Running back Leroy Hoard
“I was talking with Cris [Carter] tonight on the sidelines, about that we have three starters out and three big-money guys. I think when Cris came out of the game, fans were probably skeptical about what was going to happen in the game. I told him, ‘If I have to tote the load today, I’m going to do that.”
– Wide receiver Randy Moss
Play of the Game:
It’s hard to pick one play from a game that the Vikings dominated, but Moe Williams’ 64-yard gain on a screen pass from Cunningham set the tone of the day. The running back’s explosive play set up Minnesota for a Moss touchdown on just the third snap of the game, and the Vikings never looked back. Unfortunately, Williams suffered a foot injury on the play and was sidelined for the remainder of the day.
“The game plan had been for Moe to take the wide stuff and I would handle the plays inside, up the middle,” said Hoard, who made his first start of the season. “When Moe went down the first play of the game, I just took a deep breath. I knew I was going to be doing a lot more.”