Packer week. Two words that send both a bubbling rage and a childlike exuberance through the veins of Minnesota Vikings fans. Regardless of records, twice a season these border-locked teams with almost incestually intertwined fan bases gear up, talk trash, and prepare for one of the biggest rivalries in the NFL. There’s more than just wins and losses on the line here — there’s pride on the line. There’s an entire year of having to listen to your stupid neighbor boast on the line. There’s the bet you have with your least favorite coworker on the line.
Since their addition to the NFL in 1961, the Minnesota Vikings have met the Green Bay Packers 120 times. Whether it was Randy Moss’ Monday night explosion in 1998 or Brett Favre’s return to Lambeau in 2009, they have had plenty of epic showdowns over the past 60 years that have produced memorable moments.
As we prepare renew the hostilities this weekend, let’s took a look at some of the moments that have been carved into the history of their franchise and some that may have been forgotten.
Randy Moss’ Coming out party (1998)
In the early weeks of the 1998 season, Vikings fans had no clue what they were about to get into. Rookie receiver Randy Moss had gotten off to a hot start, but Minnesota had to turn to Randall Cunningham after a season-ending injury to starter Brad Johnson.
The Vikings rolled into Lambeau Field knowing they had to take on Brett Favre at the height of his powers while also trying to stake a claim to the NFC Central. On a dreary October night, it would be Moss that let the world know what exactly the 1998 Vikings could be.
Moss destroyed the Packer defense with five catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns, and the Vikings improved to 5-0. While Moss would add another exclamation point a month later in Dallas, his performance on Monday Night Football not only put the Vikings on the map, but jumpstarted a Hall of Fame career.
Brett Favre Returns to Lambeau Field (2009)
The Packers were in the height of the Brett Favre era in Moss’ coming out party, but 11 years later Favre would write another important chapter. After signing with the Vikings in the wake of a messy divorce from Green Bay, Favre led the Vikings to a 6-1 record that included a 30-23 victory against the Packers in Week 4.
But nothing could prepare Favre from the Miller Lite-fueled rage that awaited him at Lambeau Field that season. The fans that once adored Favre showered him with boos (and perhaps booze as well), as he looked to stick it to the team that exiled him in favor of Aaron Rodgers.
Favre responded by throwing for four touchdowns, including a dagger to Bernard Berrian with 3:46 remaining to help the Vikings secure a 38-26 victory. Of course, the Packers would be just OK in the Aaron Rodgers era while Favre would lead the Vikings to the cusp of the Super Bowl.
ANTONIO FREEMAN’s CATCH (2000)
Not all memories in this rivalry are great ones for Viking fans. During the 2000 season, the Vikings and Packers were locked in a battle on Monday Night Football. With the Vikings tied at 13, Daunte Culpepper hit Robert Smith on a 45-yard touchdown with four minutes left that appeared to finish off the Packers. But Favre and the Packers quickly answered on an Ahman Green touchdown to set up overtime.
In the middle of the rain and cold, Favre led the Packers on a drive on the first possession of overtime. Launching a throw off his back foot, the pass hung up in the air and appeared to be deflected away by Chris Dishman. After Dishman waved his arms like he had just sent the Vikings to the Super Bowl, the ball bounced off Freeman’s shoulder, into the air and into the arms of a rolling Freeman.
In obvious disbelief, Freeman got up, evaded a defender and waltzed into the end zone as Al Michaels screamed “HE DID WHAT?” Freeman’s touchdown handed the Vikings a 26-20 loss that resulted a giant hole in the drywall of my childhood bedroom.
“Goodbye Rubley Tuesday” (1995)
The Vikings and Packers were in the middle of mediocre campaigns in 1995 but put on football’s version of a street fight in a midseason matchup at the Metrodome. In a game that would also see Reggie White carted off with a knee injury, Favre rolled his ankle and battled the injury for the entirety of the second half.
By the fourth quarter, Mike Holmgren had seen enough and opted to bench Favre in favor of Ty Detmer. The Packers’ backup helped Green Bay tie the game on a two-point conversion that bounced off the entire Vikings secondary and into the arms of Mark Chmura.
The Packers drove deep into Vikings’ territory on a potential game-winning drive as Holmgren turned to third-string quarterback T.J. Rubley. Instead of handing the ball off to Edgar Bennett to set up a game-winning field goal, Rubley audibled to a pass. This proved to be a bad idea as Rubley threw a pass reserved for a game of “500” and into the arms of the Vikings. Fuad Reveiz kicked a 39-yard field goal as time expired and the Vikings won 27-24.
AP Runs the Vikings into the playoffs (2012)
By the time the Vikings faced the Packers in the final week of the 2012 season, Adrian Peterson was in full beast mode. As part of a stretch that saw Peterson run for 1,598 yards in his final 10 games, it wasn’t until an upset victory over the Packers that cemented his MVP campaign.
Peterson was the focal point of the Vikings offense and in this game, the Packers (or anyone else) couldn’t stop him. Peterson ran for 199 yards and a touchdown, but it was the final drive that put the exclamation point on his performance.
With the Vikings tied, Minnesota handed off to Peterson at midfield to help set up the game-winning field goal by Blair Walsh. The effort helped Peterson come eight yards shy of the single-season rushing record held by Eric Dickerson… and allowed the Vikings to get completely destroyed against the Packers on Wild Card Weekend.
Zimmer wins the NFC North (2015)
When Mike Zimmer took over the Vikings, he seemed to be inheriting a lengthy rebuild project. The Vikings’ defense was in shambles when Leslie Frazier was fired in 2013, and constructing a team that could compete with the Packers seemed to be light-years away.
But Zimmer gutted the Vikings through the 2014 season without Peterson’s services and had them on the doorstep of an NFC North title in 2015. Coming in as underdogs against the Packers, the Vikings scored 14 points in the third quarter including a 55-yard fumble return by Captain Munnerlyn to claim Zimmer’s first division title. We won’t talk about what happened the following week.
Vikings spoil Lambeau’s Re-Opening (2003)
As historic as a venue that Lambeau Field is, it’s not the most luxurious stadium in the NFL. With the city of Green Bay (or is it their owners?) opting to renovate the home of the Packers, complete with a Hall of Fame and plenty of luxury seating, they were looking for an opponent that they could beat to break in their new home.
Tommy Kramer throws six touchdowns for his mother (1986)
There weren’t a lot of great moments for the Packers or Vikings in the 1980s, but Kramer had his own “Favre-like” performance with six touchdowns for the Vikings in a 42-6 victory. The win was nice for the Vikings, but had added motivation considering Kramer’s mother was undergoing surgery to remove a malignant tumor in her lungs.
“She said, ‘Keep fighting and I’ll keep fighting, too,’ ” Kramer said via an article in the Los Angeles Times.
Randy Moss Moons the Packers (2005)
In the 2004 season, the Vikings had started strong but backed their way into the playoffs. With distractions such as Moss leaving the field early in a Week 17 loss to Washington, it didn’t seem likely that Minnesota could come away with a win against the Packers at Lambeau Field.
But the Vikings found themselves with a 24-17 lead in the fourth quarter behind an MVP-worthy effort from Culpepper. With Minnesota looking to put Green Bay away, Culpepper rolled to his right and fired a laser to Moss in the end zone to put the finishing touches on Al Harris and the Packers.
Of course, it was what happened after the play that made this list. After being mooned for years by drunken Wisconsinites on the team bus, Moss walked to the goalpost and pretended to pull his pants down. The celebration triggered Joe Buck nearly having a stroke in the broadcast booth and the creation of the phrase “Straight Cash Homey.”