2. Daunte Culpepper injures his knee (2001)
Daunte Culpepper had been Minnesota’s first-round pick in 1999 and led the team to the NFC Championship Game in 2000.
In 2001, Culpepper was having a solid year that included 11 outings with a 60 percent completion rate or better and a 100.0+ passer rating in two games. Through 11 weeks, Culpepper had 2,612 passing yards and 416 rushing yards (third-best in the league at the time).
Then, in a December 2 contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Culpepper sustained a knee injury and was lost for the season. Including the Pittsburgh game, the Vikings lost five of their last six to end the year at 5-11.
Culpepper finally got Minnesota back on track in 2004 when he passed for 4,717 yards and 39 touchdowns (both career highs) while leading the Vikings to an 8-8 record and divisional-round loss to Philadelphia.