Vikings Recall One-of-a-Kind Win

The Vikings made NFL history in 2005 with their improbable 24-21 win against the New York Giants, when the Vikings had three returns for touchdowns and won despite not scoring on offense. Three current Vikings and one former Giant recalled that historical game.

It might go down in history as one of the most hideous wins ever by a Vikings team. It was a game in which the winning team was thoroughly and completely dominated. The numbers spoke volumes, but the only numbers that mattered were 24-21.

That was the final score of the last game played between the Vikings and the Giants at the Meadowlands, and even those that played in it have a hard time believing what they saw.

"That was one of the strangest games I've ever been part of," running back Mewelde Moore said. "It wasn't pretty, but it was a win. How we got it was different, but the big thing to us was that we got the win. That was all that mattered."

How they got the win still mystifies most casual fans, much less those with a rooted interest in either the Vikings or the Giants. The numbers spoke volumes:

  • First downs – Giants 25, Vikings 11.
  • Total yards – Giants 405, Vikings 137.
  • Rushing – Giants 29 carries for 124 yards; Vikings 21 carries for 12 yards.
  • Passing – Giants 23 of 48 for 281 yards; Vikings 18 of 31 for 125 yards.
  • Time of possession – Giants 35:35, Vikings 24:35.

    For all intents, the game had blowout written all over it. For Matt Birk, who was on injured reserve in 2005 and forced to watch like the rest of fans, he saw the game as one of the more bizarre spectacles he's ever witnessed on a football field.

    "There are games that can defy explanation," Birk said. "You ask any player in this locker room and they can tell you about some game that they were involved in that had a team winning a game they probably shouldn't. When you win one of those games, you remember the positive things. If you're on the losing side, you remember just about every play."

    The Vikings offense in that game was about as inept as one could be. At the time, the Vikings were 2-6 and the Giants were 6-2. On paper the game looked like a blowout and, from the performance of the offense, it looked to match that expectation. With the game scoreless in the second quarter, the Giants were driving for the game's first points. That was, until Eli Manning was intercepted by Darren Sharper on the Giants 8-yard line and he returned the pick 92 yards to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.

    The Giants stormed right back into scoring range, but after a defensive stand by Minnesota, New York settled for a 35-yard field by Jay Feely. Feely would connect again with 3:39 to play in the half to cut the deficit to 7-6. Despite outgaining the Vikings by nearly 200 yards in the first half, the Giants trailed 7-6.

    That would change on the first play of the third quarter, but not how the Giants had expected. On the opening kick of the second half, Koren Robinson found a seam and was off to the races for 86 yards and a touchdown to give the Vikings a 14-6 lead.

    Again, almost as if scripted, the Vikings' lead would be shaved within three minutes again. Manning drove the Giants through the Vikings defense and culminated the drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer to cut the Vikings lead to 14-13 with 11:46 to play in the third quarter.

    "It seemed like forever in the second half that the score just stayed there," tight end Jim Kleinsasser said. "We couldn't get anything going on offense. We'd get a first down here or there, but never sustain anything. The defense and special teams kept us in it the whole way."

    Heading up the defensive effort was Sharper, who not only had the interception return for a touchdown, but picked off Manning twice more to kill Giants drives and add to their collective frustration. With less than six minutes to play, the Giants had to punt and hoped to pin the Vikings deep for a defensive stop. Instead, lightning would strike for a third time.

    Moore took the punt on his 29-yard line and, after receiving a block that sprung him, him raced 71 yards for a touchdown that gave the Vikings a 21-13 lead with just 5:27 to play – making people suddenly believe that this obscure miracle of a win was possible. Except the Giants weren't having any of it.

    As if on cue and determined following an improbable Vikings touchdown, the Giants marched down the field and scored a touchdown on a 3-yard by Tiki Barber, which he followed up by running in the two-point conversion. With just 1:21 to play, the Giants had come all the way back and the game seemed destined to go to overtime.

    Or did it?

    Thanks to a short kick and a solid kick return by Robinson, the Vikings had a chance to get into position for the game-winning points. Brad Johnson, who had struggled all day, completed all three of his pass attempts to get the Vikings to the Giants 30-yard line and, with 10 seconds to play, Paul Edinger kicked a 48-yard field goal to give the Vikings a 24-21 win.

    The elation on the Vikings sideline was clearly evident, knowing they got a win they probably shouldn't have. On the other sideline, the Giants were disconsolate. They had dominated the pace of the game throughout, but when it was over, they had nothing to show for it. Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe was on the losing end of that game and knew how upset he and his teammates were about the outcome. But now that he's a Viking, he wouldn't mind seeing a repeat performance this time around.

    "There were a lot of big stats," Shiancoe said of the loss. "But hopefully the same thing will happen this year – we'll score on offense, defense and special teams."

    But could a game like that happen again?

    "I don't think so," Kleinsasser said. "We had a lot of guys on that team that had played a lot of games and none of us could remember a game like that happening to any of us. If it does happen again, as long as the final outcome is the same, we'll be fine with it. But that kind of game doesn't happen very often."

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