I came to Minnesota to cover the Vikings in 1990. The Vikings-Packers rivalry wasn't exactly at its height those days. That changed in 1992 with the arrival of Mike Holmgren and Dennis Green.
Both envisioned themselves as empire builders. Holmgren ran the West Coast offense and worked with a general manager who acquired Brett Favre to run it. Green favored the Joe Gibbs offense and thought he could win with a lesser quarterback. Both succeeded. Holmgren won a Super Bowl. Green took two teams to NFC title games.
Green went 10-6 against the Packers for the rest of the '90s. People I know with the Packers tell me that drove Holmgren nuts. He thought he was the superior coach with the superior program and quarterback.
Here are a few of the most notable games in this rivalry since I was introduced to it:
Dec. 21, 1991:
The Vikings had beaten Green Bay, 35-21, earlier in the season, but barely seemed to make an effort on this day. They lost, 27-7, at the Metrodome. Jerry Burns would retire shortly thereafter.
Sept. 6, 1992:
First game between Holmgren and Green. The Vikings would win the season opener at Lambeau with a field goal in overtime, 23-20. Terry Allen would run for 140 yards and the Vikings for the last time would get to face the Packers when, by choice, they would have a starting quarterback other than Favre or Aaron Rodgers.
Sept. 26, 1993:
Jim McMahon throws a 45-yard pass to a strangely wide open Eric Guliford with six seconds left at the Metrodome to set up a game-winning field goal. It would be Guliford's only catch of the season. Final: Vikings 15, Packers 13.
Oct. 5, 1998:
The Packers had won 25 straight at home. The Vikings had drafted Randy Moss. The latter mattered much more than the former on this Monday night at Lambeau, when Moss caught five passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns despite having a long touchdown catch called back by penalty. Randall Cunningham threw for 442 yards, and the Packers suddenly changed their philosophy on drafting defensive backs.
Sept. 26, 1999:
Exactly six years after the Guliford play, the Vikings lose on a Favre touchdown pass to Corey Bradford with 12 seconds left to give the Packers a 23-20 victory. Cris Carter lambastes cornerback Jimmy Hitchcock on the sideline. Immediately after the game, I asked Green what happened on that play. Green said, ``Thats yesterday's news,'' and refused to talk about it.
Dec. 24 2004 and Jan. 9 2005:
Down by seven after a Favre interception was returned for a touchdown with eight minutes remaining, the Packers rallied to win with an 80-yard touchdown drive and a last-second Ryan Longwell field goal, giving the Packers the division title. Two weeks later, Moss caught two touchdown passes and did something unusual to the goalpost as the Vikings won a playoff game at Lambeau.
Oct. 5 and Nov. 1 2009:
Favre beat the Packers in his first two games against them as a Viking, 30-23 and 38-26. He would complete 41 of 59 passes for 515 yards, seven touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks. He was spectacular.
Dec. 30, 2012:
Adrian Peterson ran for 199 yards and set up the game-winnnig field goal with a late burst to give the Vikings an epic, 37-34 victory at the Metrodome in the last regular-season game of 2012. The victory put the Vikings into the playoffs, and they would lose badly with Joe Webb replacing an injured Christian Ponder at quarterback.
To hear more about this matchup and the rivalry, you can hear Viking Update's Tim Yotter and me on our Purple podcast and ESPN Wisconsin's Jason Wilde on Rodgers, McCarthy and the Packers on SouhanUncensored, all at MalePatternPodcasts.com.