Best Week 1 Game No. 1
2000 Season: Vikings beat the Bears 30-27
As the 2000 season was set to begin, Vikings head coach Dennis Green and his team were two seasons removed from a near Super Bowl miss.
Minnesota lost in the NFC Championship at home to the Atlanta Falcons during receiver Randy Moss’s rookie year in 1998. Then, in 1999, the Vikings went 10-6 and lost in the divisional round of the playoffs to the St. Louis Rams.
Hoping to finally take advantage of the weapons at their disposal and reach the Super Bowl, Minnesota opened the 2000 season at home against their NFC Central division rival, the Chicago Bears.
The first two quarters were primarily a field goal battle as Bears kicker Paul Edinger and Vikings kicker Gary Anderson booted no less than five field goals between them. Sandwiched in between the kicks was an 18-yard touchdown from Bears quarterback Cade McNown to tight end John Allred. The halftime score favored Chicago, 13-9.
Then, the second half began, and a touchdown flurry ensued. Early in the third quarter, McNown scrambled his way to get the Bears to the Minnesota 48-yard line. On 3rd-and-10, he took a shotgun snap, dropped back, and lasered a pass to receiver Marcus Robinson at the Minny 21-yard line. Robinson then eluded one tackle and scampered into the end zone for a 20-9 Chicago lead.
At long last, Minnesota appeared to jolt awake and get back into the game. Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who was starting his first game for the franchise after being chosen 11th overall in the 1999 NFL Draft, took the team down to the Bears’ 1-yard line. On 1st-and-Goal, Culpepper dove over the pile and scored to cut into Chicago’s lead, 20-16.
Culpepper and Minnesota began the fourth quarter with momentum on their side. During an early quarter drive, Culpepper found Moss for a number of pass plays, including a huge reception that the receiver took to the Chicago 7-yard line.
On 1st-and-Goal from the Bears' 7-yard line, Culpepper scrambled again and scored for the second time to put Minnesota ahead, 23-20. His touchdown tied former Vikings signal-caller Joe Kapp for two quarterback rushing scores in a single game.
A few minutes later, the Vikings had the ball back and were perched on their own 35-yard line. On 1st-and-10, Culpepper took the snap and handed it off to Robert Smith, who bobbed and weaved all the way down to the Bears’ 6-yard line.
Three plays later, Culpepper called his own number again and crashed in from four yards out to increase Minnesota’s lead, 30-20. His three rushing touchdowns in a single game remains a Vikings record for a quarterback.
Late in the quarter, McNown decided to get into the act and rushed for a score of his own to get the Bears within three points, 30-27. Chicago then tried an onside kick, but the attempt fell into the arms of Moss, who promptly dropped to the turf to seal the win.
After their first victory of the 2000 season, Minny didn’t lose again until Week 9 against Tampa Bay. The Vikings wrapped the year with an 11-5 record, then beat the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs by a final score of 34-16.
One week later, the New York Giants humiliated Minnesota in the NFC Championship, 41-0. It remains the only time in team history that Minny was shut out in a playoff contest.