My take on the five key defensive match ups for Sunday is going to have to wait. Why? Because Peter King is being an idiot. Last night’s game was not, nor will it ever be, considered one of the "biggest choke jobs in sports history". Yes, it was bad. Yes, the Cardinals are a snake bitten franchise. But, I’m sorry, blowing a 20 point lead to the best team in the NFL, IN THE REGULAR SEASON is not a historic choke job. Da Bears were only down 10 points going into the fourth quarter. 10 POINTS—that’s it!
I know this shouldn’t anger me like it does, but I consider myself, as a Vikings’ fan, something of a connoisseur of choking, and hyperbole like this gets to me. This is the kind of crap I’d expect out of someone like Sean Salisbury, or, well, pretty much anyone involved with ESPN, but Peter King is a better writer than that. I mean, I can name five choke jobs involving the Vikings off the top of my head that were much worse than this one. If I included other teams, and other sports, I’m not sure the Cardinals' loss would even crack the top 100.
Don’t believe me? Here are five choke jobs (in no particular order) that were worse:
1) 1998-99 NFC Championship Game—Minnesota Vikings choke against Atlanta Falcons
The Vikings had the best offense ever and were undefeated at home (their average margin of victory at the Dome was 23 points) with a perfect kicker. When Gary Anderson lined up to kick the field goal that would put the Vikings’ up 10, the game was over. Until he missed. You can fill in the rest yourself. I'm not getting into it.
2) 2000-01 NFC Championship Game: Minnesota Vikings choke against New York Giants
3) 1997-1998 NFC Wild Card Game—New York Giants choke against Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings put up 10 points in the final 90 seconds, including recovering an onside kick, in the Meadowlands to knock the Giants out of the playoffs. Possibly the only time in the history of the franchise that the Vikings' opponent, rather than the Vikings' themselves, choked.
4) 2003-Week 17—Minnesota Vikings choke against Arizona Cardinals
Leading 17-3, the Vikings allowed the Cardinals to drive down the field and score a touchdown with 1:54 to play. After E.J. Henderson lit up Emmitt Smith to prevent him from getting in the end zone on the two point conversion, the Cardinals recovered the onside kick. Then, just to make it more painful, they gave up two sacks, pushing them back to the 28 yard line with almost no time left on the clock. Then, well, I’m sure you remember Tyrone Poole’s touchdown as he was pushed out of bounds. And if you're like me, you’re still haunted by Paul Allen's screams of anguish on the radio.
5) Super Bowl IV—Minnesota Vikings choke against Kansas City Chiefs
Coming into the game, the Vikings were 13 point favorites and had the NFL’s best offense and best defense. Of course, that didn’t matter, as the Vikings never showed up against the Chiefs, turning the ball over five times and generally looking like a 2-12 team, not a 12-2 team. This choke job was so bad, it's taint still sticks with the franchise today.
So there you go. 5 games that were worse choke jobs than last night’s, all involving the Vikings, and four of them by the Vikings. I’m going to close by thanking Peter King for making a statement so inane that I felt it necessary to relive the most painful moments in Vikings’ history just to prove him wrong. Thanks a bunch Peter.
[Edit: Gary Anderson missed field goal would have put the Vikings' up 10, not 13, as this article on Wikipedia implies. Last time I trust Wikipedia over my own memory.]