Flukiest Plays In Minnesota Vikings History

Photo: Jim Marshall

Anthony Harris‘ interception return for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks got me thinking about other flukey plays, so I thought I’d compile the flukiest plays in Minnesota Vikings history that I can remember. If I’m missing any, please let me know in the comments.

8 Fluke Plays In Vikings History

So, without further ado, here are the eight flukiest plays in Vikings history, in reverse order.

8. Tarkenton To Preston Carpenter

Our first fluke play is one any Fran Tarkenton fan will recognize from the Hall of Famer’s highlight reels. This play occured on October 30, 1966 at Met Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers.

It came on a third-and-thirty in the fourth quarter of the Vikings 28-3 victory. After an insane amount of scrambling, Tarkenton throws deep to the end zone but ball falls short and looks to be intercepted by a 49ers defender, who only deflects the ball into the waiting hands of halfback Preston Carpenter for the Vikings final score.

As a side note, on the day, Tarkenton completed 17 of 31 passes for 278 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception and ran for 71 yards and two touchdowns on 10 attempts.

The play was included as one of the top 100 plays in NFL history.

7. Culpepper to Moss To Williams

This play is included as a fluke simply because of the amount of luck involved in it actually ending successfully. It occured on October 19, 2003 at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

The 6-0 Vikings were tied 7-7 with the 5-2 Denver Broncos as the close of the first half approached. With 15 seconds remaining and the Vikings 59 yards from the Broncos goal line, quarterback Daunte Culpepper took the snap from shotgun, rolled right to buy some time, and launched the ball 44 yards to a triple-covered Randy Moss, who, of course, went up and caught the ball.

15 yards short of the end zone, Moss caught a glimpse of a teammate trailing the play and so, as he was being tackled to the ground, he flipped a behind-the-back lateral to running back Moe Williams to strolled into end zone for a touchdown.

The Vikings went on to win the game 28 to 20 and this play, too, was named one of the top 100 in league history.

6. Kramer To Rashad

This play occurred during the closing moments of the penultimate game of the 1980 season. The Vikings hosted the Cleveland Browns, nicknamed the “Kardiac Kids,” at Metropolitan Stadium on December 14, 1980.

The 8-6 Vikings needed a win to clinch the NFC Central Division and advance to the playoffs while a win for the 10-4 Browns would ensure them a playoff berth.

The Vikings trailed the Browns the entire game. The score was 23-22 with five seconds left in the game and the Vikings in possession of the ball at the Browns 46 yard line.

Three receivers lined up on the right side of the Vikings formation all ran fly routes to the end zone. Quarterback Tommy Kramer‘s pass to the right side of the end zone reached the five yard line, where Browns defensive back Thom Darden tipped the ball only to have Vikings receiver Ahmad Rashad reach out with one hand to catch the ball at the one yard line and step into the end zone for the Vikings 28-23 victory.

The Miracle At The Met [FULL GAME]


This game was named number 96 of the NFL’s greatest 100 games.

5. Jim Marshall’s Wrong Way Run

Jim Marshall‘s infamous wrong-way run occurred on October 25, 1964 at Kezar Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Vikings led 27-17 after fellow defensive end Carl Eller returned a fumble 45 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

With the 49ers in posession of the ball deep in their own territory, quarterback George Mira passed to halfback Billy Kilmer, who had the ball stripped from his grasp.

Marshall was quick to scoop up the ball and race to the end zone…unfortunately for him, it was the wrong end zone and Marshall ended up scoring a safety for the 49ers.

Older fans may remember the name Billy Kilmer. Though he played halfback in this game, he went on to play quarterback for the expansion New Orleans Saints and then for the Washington Redskins.

Though Marshall’s mistake will likely remain a staple of NFL blooper reels, it is but a tiny blip in a stellar and Hall of Fame-worthy career.

He was the opposite book-end lineman to Hall of Famer Carl Eller and was joined on the famed Purple People Eaters line by Hall of Fame defensive tackle Alan Page and defensive tackle Gary Larsen.

He appeared in 292 games and started 270 straight games, two records that stand to this day for defensive players. It is a crime that he is not in the Hall of Fame.


4. Dan Orlovsky Sacks Himself For A Safety

Speaking of safeties…here’s one that went for the Vikings.

On October 12, 2008, the 3-3 Vikings hosted the 0-5 (and on their way to 0-16) Detroit Lions at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

Orlovsky’s infamous play occurred with 18 seconds left in the first quarter with the Lions pinned down on their one yard line. Vikings defensive end Jared Allen easily beat his man and flushed Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky from the pocket, who inadvertently stepped out of the back of the end zone, giving the Vikings their first score of the game and Allen credit for a sack and a safety.

Fortunately for Jim Marshall, Orlovsky’s mistake topped the list of the worst plays in NFL history. Though Orlovsky may not have had a very memorable career as a player, he is a must-follow on Twitter for insight into quarterback play.


3. Anthony Harris, Pinball Wizard

The play that inspired this list!

This play occurred against the Seattle Seahawks on December 2, 2019 at CenturyLink Field with 5:18 remaining in the second quarter.

With the ball on their own 21 yard line and the score tied at seven, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson attempted a pass that was batted up in the air at the line by Vikings defensive tackle Armon Watts. Wilson, attempting to bat the ball to the ground, only popped the ball up again in the air.

Vikings safety Anthony Harris dashed in to catch ball, shrug off an arm tackle and race to the end zone for a pick six.

In all my years of watching football, I don’t recall a similar play.

2. Brad Johnson Throws A Touchdown To Himself

Brad Johnson appears to hold the distinction of being the first NFL quarterback to throw a touchdown pass to himself.

The play occurred on October 12, 1997 as the Vikings hosted the Carolina Panthers at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

It was third and goal with 14:18 remaining in the fourth quarter with the score tied at seven. Brad Johnson to the snap from center and dropped back for a quick pass to tight end Andrew Glover. Johnson’s pass, however, was batted by Carolina defensive tackle Greg Kragen back to Johnson, who caught it and ran to his right, puts a move on two defenders, and then had enough speed to get to the perimeter and dive in for the touchdown.

The play made the difference in the Vikings’ 21-14 victory. The play is listed as number seven on NFL.com’s Ten Spookiest Touchdowns In NFL History list. Here’s the full game:


1. Antonio Freeman’s Monday Night Miracle

This play occurred on November 6, 2000 at Lambeau Field when the 4-5 Green Bay Packers hosted the 7-2 Vikings.

This Monday night matchup was tied 20-20 in overtime when Vikings quarterback Brett Favre (who at the time played for the Packers) threw a floater to Antionio Freeman, who was covered by Vikings cornerback Chris Dishman.

Dishman got a hand on the ball and should have intercepted it but the ball slipped through his hand and onto Freeman, who had stumbled to the ground. Freeman plucked the ball before it hit the ground, got up, avoided Vikings safety Robert Griffin‘s tackle attempt while Dishman believed the pass to be incomplete and play over only to watch helplessly as Freeman ran into the end zone for the game-winning score.

And for that reason, this play is the absolutely flukiest play in Minnesota Vikings history.