Late last week, prompted by Mark Craig's excellent story on the 60th anniversary of the Vikings' first game in franchise history, I fell down a bit of rabbit hole on the 1961 team.
I knew they had routed the Bears 37-13 in that game. I knew the rest of the season didn't go that great (understatement: 3-11 final record).
But a particular game caught my eye: Week 3 against the Baltimore Colts. The Vikings had lost by two touchdowns to the Cowboys after that dazzling debut against the Bears. Against the Colts, they put forth a much better effort.
It was a back-and-forth game that featured an almost unfathomable 10 lead changes. Baltimore turned the ball over five times and had eight penalties. The Vikings didn't have a turnover and committed just one penalty.
Those stats usually tell the story of who wins. But in this game, the final lead change came late in the fourth quarter ... on a 52-yard field goal by Baltimore's Steve Myhra.
Myhra, a North Dakota native who played in college at UND, is hilariously listed on Pro Football Reference as a guard/linebacker/kicker. Those were the days.
In his career, he had never made a field goal of 50-plus before that day. And in fact he made just 48.2% of his career field goals (about average for that era). But on that day, he booted two go-ahead field goals in the fourth quarter, his only two attempts of the day — including that 52-yard try, which was tied for longest in the NFL in 1961.
I almost wrote about it on Friday, but I ran out of time and it felt just a little too obscure to be all that interesting.
But in the wake of Greg Joseph's miss on Sunday, I decided to dust it off again as evidence that an inequity in the kicking game has plagued the Vikings from the very first close game of their existence.
The extra bonus when I went back and looked at the game again?
The final score was Baltimore 34, Vikings 33 — a score that hadn't happened in Vikings history for 60 more years.
Until Sunday's 34-33 loss to the Cardinals.