It didn't end well, but there's still no denying this: the Vikings' 2012 season was an unexpected treat -- a success that came completely out of the blue. Such seasons must be treasured -- they are rare, though not completely unheard of around here. As such, here are five other Minnesota seasons since 2000 that reminded us a little of the Vikings' vault from three to 10 victories:
2002-03 Wild: Even before the magical postseason run, this was a season to remember. The third-year franchise jumped from 68 points in its first year to 73 in its second all the way up to 95. The stingy bunch allowed just 178 goals, stunning the locals not only by making the playoffs but then advancing to the Western Conference finals with playoff series comeback victories over Colorado and Vancouver.
2001 Twins: From 1993-2000, the Twins did not have a winning season. And from 1997-2000, they lost at least 90 games every year. Even more to the point, they did so with a constantly rotating group of newcomers and castoffs who didn't seem destined to gain much traction. Then, all the sudden, the 2001 Twins came blasting out at the start of the season. They were 55-32 at the All-Star break. They still had a division lead in August. While they ultimately faltered down the stretch, the year was about as fun as it gets -- and it laid the groundwork for six division titles in the next nine seasons.
2011 Lynx: Prior to 2011, the Lynx had played 12 WNBA seasons and won exactly one playoff game. They had only qualified for the playoffs twice, in their only two winning seasons (both 18-16). In 2010, their victory total had dipped for a third consecutive season as they finished 13-21. And then just like that, everything turned around in a fun and unexpected ride that didn't end until the franchise had captured its first WNBA title.
2004-05 Gophers men's basketball: In the seasons surrounding this one (2003-04, 05-06 and 06-07), the Gophers won 11 Big Ten games combined. But for one year, Vincent Grier put them on his back and willed them into the NCAA tournament for the only time during Dan Monson's tenure.
2001-02 Gophers women's basketball: Before the Gophers could run (the Final Four season came two years later), they had to at least walk. In the six seasons preceding the 2001-02 campaign, Minnesota was a combined 8-88 in Big Ten play. That is not a misprint. But thanks to a new coach (Brenda Oldfield) as well as the talent of Lindsay Whalen and Janel McCarville, the Gophers vaulted to a 22-8 overall record, an 11-5 Big Ten mark and an NCAA tournament berth.