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Top 10 Vikings Seasons: Historic 1998 Campaign Unanimously Claims Top Spot

EAGAN, Minn. — Welcome to the 100th season of the National Football League.

The league is celebrating its centennial anniversary in 2019 with various events that will look back at the history of the NFL's first 100 years.

The Vikings, who began play in 1961, have been around for more than half of that period, creating plenty of memories and delivering some jaw-dropping performances within historic seasons.

As part of the NFL 100 celebration, is producing 10 different top 10 lists over the course of the 2019 season to help commemorate 100 special moments in franchise history. We'll cover legendary players, rivalry games and miraculous moments alike, beginning with the top 10 seasons in franchise history.

For this list,'s Lindsey Young, Craig Peters and I awarded 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for second place, and so on. The maximum number of points for a topic is 30.

A season that was all about scoring points tallied the strongest. Find out where the rest rank:

1. 1998 (30 points; unanimous among all three writers)

There was no debate on this one, not when the team featured 10 Pro Bowlers and set the franchise mark with a 15-1 record in the regular season. The offense was historic, as a rookie named Randy Moss teamed with Cris Carter and Jake Reed to form "Three Deep." Moss took the league by storm, and Minnesota averaged a whopping 34.8 points per game.

Randall Cunningham, Robert Smith and a stacked offensive line also did their parts in an offense that eclipsed 30 points in 11 of 16 regular-season games.

The defense was led by John Randle's 10.5 sacks and three pick-sixes from Jimmy Hitchcock. Gary Anderson also made all 35 field goal tries in the regular season.

And no, the 1998 Vikings did not make it to the Super Bowl, unlike four other teams on this list. But when most people think of the Vikings, they think of the unbelievable season that was 1998.

2. 1969 (27 points; unanimous No. 2 among all three writers)

Minnesota's first team to appear in a Super Bowl was dominant all season long, going 12-2 regular-season play in Bud Grant's third season at the helm. After dropping the opener, the Vikings set a team record with 12 consecutive victories before falling in the regular-season finale in Atlanta.

The defense allowed just 9.5 points per game in the regular season as the unit featured the Purple People Eaters (Carl Eller, Alan Page, Jim Marshall and Gary Larsen), who each made the Pro Bowl that season, a future Hall of Famer in Paul Krause and cornerback Bobby Bryant, who had a team-high eight interceptions.

The offense led the league with 27.1 points per game, as Joe Kapp threw for 19 touchdowns and the combination of Dave Osborn and Bill Brown rushed for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The Vikings won the 1969 NFL Championship before meeting the AFL Champion Chiefs in Super Bowl IV in the final game before the merger.

3. 2017 (21 points)

Where were you during the "Minneapolis Miracle?"

The final play of an all-time classic playoff game against New Orleans ended with Stefon Diggs hauling in a pass from Case Keenum, keeping his balance along the sideline and racing into the end zone (and Vikings lore).

While many remember this season for that one play, the Vikings also produced one of the best all-around complimentary seasons in team history.

Minnesota's defense finished first in points allowed and yards allowed, as Everson Griffen tallied 13 sacks and Harrison Smith recorded five interceptions. Adam Thielen recorded his first 1,000-yard season to help Keenum, who started 14 games but began the season as the backup.

The complimentary play helped Minnesota go 13-3 and included an eight-game win streak.

The Vikings missed out on a chance to play in the Super Bowl in U.S. Bank Stadium, but they gave fans a season (and a moment) that won't soon be forgotten.

4. 1973 (20 points)

A year after Fran Tarkenton re-joined the team, the Vikings were back in the Super Bowl, and set up for a strong run of success.

On offense, Chuck Foreman was the Associated Press' Rookie of the Year after he rushed for 801 yards and four touchdowns. Foreman added 362 receiving yards and two scores from Tarkenton, who threw for 2,113 yards and 15 touchdowns.

The defense was stout again, allowing just 72 points in seven regular-season homes games as the Vikings didn't lose at Metropolitan Stadium. Bryant had seven interceptions, including a pick-six.

Minnesota went on the road to earn a 27-10 win in Dallas in the NFC Championship, the first playoff win on the road in team history, but the Vikings season ended with a loss to Miami in Super Bowl VIII.

5. 1976 (17 points)

Minnesota's third Super Bowl appearance in four seasons (and fourth in eight years) ended with a loss to the Raiders in Super Bowl XI.

But it was yet another successful regular season under Grant, as the Vikings went 11-2-1 and won the NFC Central for the fourth straight year, and the eighth time in nine seasons.

Tarkenton (2,961 passing yards and 17 touchdowns) teamed with Foreman (1,155 rushing yards and 13 scores) to create a balanced offense that included 906 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns from rookie Sammy White. All three made the Pro Bowl.

Nate Wright had seven interceptions on defense as Minnesota picked off 19 total passes in 1976. Page, who had 18 sacks, Bryant and Jeff Siemon were Pro Bowlers on defense.

T-6. 1974 (15 points)

The Vikings appeared in back-to-back Super Bowls but fell short again, this time with a loss to the Steelers.

Minnesota went 10-4 in the regular season, the fewest wins among the four teams that made it to the Super Bowl.

Tarkenton and Foreman were Pro Bowlers once again, while a stingy defense allowed just 13.9 points per game.

The Vikings beat the Cardinals and Rams in the playoffs but suffered a 16-6 loss to Pittsburgh at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans.

T-6. 2009 (15 points)

It was probably a bit surreal to see Brett Favre in Purple, especially after he spent 16 years in Green Bay.

The gunslinger threw for 4,200 yards and 33 touchdowns with just seven interceptions as he was one of 10 Pro Bowlers for Minnesota.

Adrian Peterson ran for 1,383 yards and 18 touchdowns, Sidney Rice had 1,312 receiving yards, Visanthe Shiancoe caught 11 scores, and Percy Harvin tallied eight total touchdowns on offense and special teams.

Defensively, Jared Allen's 14.5 sacks led the way for a defense that allowed less than 20 points per game.

Minnesota went 12-4 and won the NFC North, with Favre and the Vikings sweeping the season series with Green Bay.

The Vikings cruised past Dallas in the Divisional Round before enduring a bitter overtime loss on the road in New Orleans in the NFC title game.

8. 1975 (8 points)

This team didn't make it to the Super Bowl, but ask some Vikings fans, and they'll tell you this is the best squad Minnesota ever had under Grant.

The Vikings once again went 12-2, one of four times they accomplished that mark under Grant. Minnesota's offense finished third in points per game, while the defense was third in points allowed per game.

Tarkenton won the league MVP, and Minnesota had six players named as All-Pros in Foreman, Krause, Page, Tarkenton, Ed White and Ron Yary.

The team started 10-0 before splitting its final four games to set up a home playoff game against Dallas in the Divisional Round.

Leading 14-10, the Vikings allowed a last-second touchdown pass from Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson, and the term "Hail Mary" was coined after the game. Vikings fans still refer to the play as "Pearson's pushoff" and express disdain over the non-call of offensive pass interference.

T-9. 2015 (5 points)

This was the year Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer won his first NFC North title in Minnesota.

The Vikings went 11-5 and captured the division in Week 17 with a win at Lambeau Field, one of the sweetest victories in the long history of the Border Battle.

Led by Peterson's league-leading 1,485 rushing yards and timely plays from Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings overcame a 2-2 start to finish 11-5. Minnesota's defense was also a fierce group under Zimmer, finishing fifth with 18.9 points allowed per game.

The Vikings then became the first team playing home games in a temporary stadium (at the University of Minnesota) to host a playoff game. The temperature was minus-6 degrees Fahrenheit for the coldest game in franchise history and third-coldest in league history. The wind chill was calculated at minus-25, but the ending was even colder

Minnesota's season came to an end at home after a last-minute field goal went wide left in an eventual 10-9 loss to Seattle.

T-9. 1987 (5 points)

It was a wild year that included a strike, three games with replacement players and an eventual surprise run to the NFC Championship.

The Vikings started 2-0 before the third game was canceled because of the strike. By the time the regular players returned in late October, Minnesota was 2-3.

The roller-coaster season soon continued, as the Vikings won five of six but then lost three of four games to end the season with an 8-7 record.

Minnesota entered the postseason with the fewest wins of any playoff team, but picked up impressive wins on the road against New Orleans and San Francisco, teams that went a combined 25-5 in the regular season.

The Vikings season ended with a 17-10 loss at Washington, the eventual Super Bowl champion.

But it was an unforgettable year, as Chris Doleman, Joey Browner and Gary Zimmerman were named All-Pros under Vikings Head Coach Jerry Burns.