The series offered last week by the Star Tribune sports staff was based on “favorite event covered,’’ and included an impressive variety of happenings.
There were three elite events that I fretted would be overlooked by the panel of wordsmiths, and thus went the blog route to provide these with a bit of recognition.
We covered Captain Dynamite blowing himself up behind second base at Met Stadium in 1978, and Bobby Heenan being placed in a pink weasel suit in 1980 at the St. Paul Civic Center, on back-to-back days last week.
Then, nothing. “What happened to No. 3?’’ came a clamor from the masses.
OK, it was two people total – one text, one email – wondering, but the truth is No. 3 had to debut on a Sunday, in order to fully honor Minnesota’s bloody Sunday of sports:
Jan. 14, 2001, Giants Stadium
There’s probably a need for a pair of asides before reviewing the carnage of that afternoon in East Rutherford, N.J.:
- In the world of scribes, at least in 2001, most showed up to cover a game rooting for an outstanding story – be it down-to-wire drama, overwhelming victory or crushing defeat. Anything but the routine and we were good.
- In the world of scribes, at least in 2001, most press boxes were places where homerism was ridiculed, while wise cracking and laughs were embraced. It was sports, right?
New York Football Giants 41, Vikings 0 in an NFC Championship Game stands near the all-time top in both categories, providing a remarkable tale of crushing defeat, along with more wise cracks and laughs from more sources than from any Minnesota press box contingent I’ve enjoyed.
I mean, we shouldn’t have the same standard for our Strib “classics’’ as does FSN: all victories. And 41-doughnut was 100% a classic.
Note: Someone might suggest Nebraska 84, Gophers 13 as a topper. Nope.
The 1983 Cornhuskers were one of the most-potent forces in college football history. The Gophers were terrible. By contrast, the Giants were so underwhelming the Vikings went in as 2-point favorites on the road.
Sid Hartman came jauntily into the office at mid-week and provided this insight: “I’ve never seen coaches and players more confident. They think the Giants are an ordinary team.’’
What Sid was hearing from Vikings “coaches’’ was the expectation of victory by two touchdowns, minimum.
This was the site of coach Denny Green’s improbable first playoff victory on Dec. 27, 1997, when the Vikings scored late, recovered an onside kick, scored again, won 23-22, and Denny didn’t get fired as he was anticipating.
Now, it would be the site of Green earning his trip to the Super Bowl and quiet forever Denny’s disbelievers.
It didn’t quite work out.
Randy Moss was chagrined from the start when he couldn’t get some pals onto the sideline pregame. Put it this way: The clips of the routes Randy was running as the score mounted that afternoon weren’t part of his Hall of Fame campaign video.
The Giants’ Damon Washington took the opening kick to the Vikings 26. The Giants scored in four plays, the touchdown a 46-yarder from Kerry Collins to Ike Hilliard.
Brad Daluiso’s short kickoff was fumbled by Moe Williams and recovered by the Giants’ Lyle West at the Vikings 18. Collins threw an immediate touchdown pass to Greg Comella, a fullback.
Five plays from scrimmage, all Giants, 14-0 with 12:53 left in the first. The only thing to top that embarrassing start was the super nova of embarrassment at the finish.
Collins finished the first half with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Hilliard to make it 34-0. By then, Chris Rock would have had trouble squeezing in a joke in the press box.
And here’s the ultimate reminder of the effort from Denny’s battlers on that afternoon:
Daunte Culpepper threw his third interception, this one to Jason Sehorn in the end zone with 12:53 left. Later, the Giants wives were allowed to enter the locker room, and Sehorn’s bride, Angie Harmon, came in and gave him a large smooch, which had to be even better than Jason's souvenir football from the interception.
Backup quarterback Jason Garrett and running back Joe Montgomery were in as the Giants took over at their 20 after the Sehorn pick. Montgomery ran on the first eight plays, and 14 of 16 plays leading to the 2-minute warning.
Then, Garrett knelt down three times and it was over. This made 12:53 an important number on the game clock:
Giants, 14-0 with 12:53 left in the first, and the Vikings offense had not touched the ball. Giants, starting at 20 with 12:53 left in the fourth, and Vikings offense did not again touch the ball.
In the wake of this humiliation, Moss did make one great contribution: the “41-doughnut’’ quote that lives in infamy.
Such infamy that The Big Quit in New Jersey belongs on this bonus “favorite event’’ list, for all the wrong and hilarious reasons.