They had played 66 regular-season games and postseason games since then.
The last time they beat a team on the road by a larger margin than their 28-point victory Sunday was in 1992 when they beat Cincinnati 42-7.
The Rams came into Sunday’s game looking at it as a “must-win” given their brutal schedule coming up in October and November. It was a home game and the simple reality is home teams win more than road teams.
Through 14 games on kickoff weekend, six of them were won by road teams. Of those six winning road teams, three of them were playoff teams last year. Of the six home teams that lost, only one of them (Kansas City) made the playoffs last year.
The Vikings’ inclusion in that group is important because it turns the page completely on the woes of the 2013 season, where the Vikings had the lead with one minute to play in five games and lost them all. Sunday’s dominating performance put the final shovelful of dirt on that grave.
You can’t help who you play when you play them. Would things have been different with Sam Bradford in the game? The last time they played Bradford at the Edward Jones Dome, the Vikings beat him 36-22 and the game wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate.
All week long, the Vikings reiterated their respect for Shaun Hill. You don’t play 13 years as a bum in the NFL. The Vikings kept him for four years. He spent the last three with the Lions and, with Bradford coming off ACL surgery from last year, he was brought in as a veteran insurance policy. The fact the Vikings knocked him out of the game at halftime was a testament to the pressure they put on him. Rookie Austin Davis was overmatched, but, as is the tendency in the NFL, he posted better raw numbers because the Vikings were so far ahead they were cycling in back-of-the-roster guys in the fourth quarter.
By any measure, the Vikings’ season opener was as dominating a performance as we’ve seen in a long time from the Vikings. Brett Favre was on the field the last time the Vikings laid the smack down like that.
Nobody is going to confuse Hill or Davis as being anything more than pedestrian quarterbacks. But if you look at the second line of the quarterback charts for the other 31 teams you will find the Vikings may have the best QB on Line 2 and Line 3 of any team in the league.
Yet, it’s going to be the guy on the No. 1 line of the QB depth chart that is going to tell the tale of the Vikings’ defensive prowess and it is close to a Murderer’s Row. Over the next 34 days, the Vikings defense is going to be tested like few defenses have in recent history.
The list includes Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford.
How good are those guys? Three of them (Rodgers, Ryan and Brees) are being paid a combined $62.75 million – three of the top four compensation contracts for 2014. Stafford is at No. 10, getting paid $17.6 million. Brady is in the low-rent district at $2 million. But don’t cry for Tommy. He got a $30 million signing bonus last year – bringing home the bigger check in the Brady household for the first time in years.
Those guys are paid the most money in the NFL for a reason. Their respective franchises respect them enough to back up the Brink’s truck with a delivery for them.
That’s the next five quarterbacks the Vikings are going to face.
Nobody was as dominant in Week 1 as the Vikings. Not Seattle. Not Denver. Nobody.
Take comfort in that, my friends. The gauntlet is coming. If the Vikings are half as good as they looked Sunday, it may be time for those teams to start worrying. If they’re not, Sunday’s win will be a nice memory, but replaced by nightmares.
The Vikings’ next opponent – the New England Patriots – haven’t started a season 0-2 since Bill Belichick’s second year as head coach in 2001. By the way, they went on to win the Super Bowl that year.
Players and coaches don’t look beyond the next opponent. As fans, we have that luxury. The Vikings are facing a death march for their defense that will truly test their mettle to the extreme. If they can survive that coming monsoon of elite quarterbacks, they could be setting themselves up for a strong finish.
Sunday was fun. Now the heavy lifting begins.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.