It isn't easy winning a Championship, in any sport.
It takes a combination of skill, luck, and sometimes just getting hot at the right moment to win it all and sometimes, heck, most times, that isn't the team everyone expected it to be. Sometimes, a team can be so dominant during an entire year and just lose out in the final games. This happens quite a bit, actually, just look at the recently completed NFL season as a prime example. The Green Bay Packers dominated the regular season only to falter to the eventual SuperBowl Champion New York Giants in their first playoff game.
Crap happens, and it happens whether your on track to have the best season, or be the best player, of all time. That's life.
So, in honor of some of the players and teams that couldn't get it done, no matter how awesome they were, we are going to take a weekly look at those who never won the big game or got to hoist the big trophy. This week, we are focusing on the 1998 Minnesota Vikings, who will go down as one of the greatest offenses to ever get on the field.
1998 Minnesota Vikings
As hard as it is to imagine, there was a time before the quarterback wasn't allowed to be touched without a flag. There was a time when the receiver actually had to fight to get off the line and to get open. There was a time when defenses ruled land. And during this time, no team ruled the sky's more than the 1998 Minnesota Viking.
The '98 Vikings, coached by Dennis Green, were simply an offensive monster. During this dominating year, where they went 15-1, they put up a then-record 556 points in the regular season behind one of the most prolific passing attacks the league had ever seen.
The offense was led by Randall Cunningham, who was only two years removed from being out of the league. He replaced an injured Brad Johnson and passed for 3,704 yards and a whopping 34 touchdowns. Of course, numbers like those are made easier when you have a duo of receivers like Chris Carter and a rookie Randy Moss. Moss led the team with 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns while Carter contributed 1,011 yards and 12 touchdowns.
To balance that offense and allow those passing yards, the Vikings employed the rushing duo of Robert Smith and Leroy Hoard. Smith was the flash guy and rushed for 1,187 and 6 touchdowns while Hoard was the smash man, getting the ball in goal line situations, adding 9 touchdowns to the mix.
On the other side of the ball, this Vikings team was led by the legendary John Randle. His 10.5 sacks set the pace for a defense allowed just 296 points in the regular season.
Overall, this team was in position on both sides of the ball to win it all in the '98 season. Unfortunately, though, a blown opportunity would be there undoing.
During the NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons, kicker Gary Anderson would miss a crucial field goal that would have iced the game for the Vikings. Instead, Minnesota would go on to lose 30-27 in overtime and taste the bitterness of unfulfilled promise.
A bad ending to a season is a bad ending, any way you look at it, but as a whole, this '98 Vikings team will go down as one of the greatest to never win a championship.
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS