Many Minnesota Vikings fans would easily single out the 1998 team as their favorite of all-time.
How can you blame them after establishing a 15-1 record and hosting the NFC Championship?
However, the reason I didn't pick that team was because I was just learning the NFL at about that time in my life. By the way, I did cry after the 1998 NFC Championship Game.
Let me give you the reasons why:
1. Daunte Culpepper Throwing 39 Touchdown Passes
In my life, I had never seen a Vikings quarterback play as well as Culpepper did in 2004. Yes, I know Randall Cunningham had a spectacular season in 1998 with a 106.0 quarterback rating in the regular season. But what amazed me was the mobility Culpepper had while still being able to throw with accuracy.
I specifically remember him in a game at Green Bay in which defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt broke through the line of scrimmage and wrapped Culpepper up in the pocket.
However, Daunte was able to spin out of the tackle, roll to his left, and hit tight end Jermaine Wiggins on a perfect strike to pick up a big first down.
If Peyton Manning had not thrown 49 touchdown passes that season, Culpepper might have been the league's MVP.
2. Spoiling Bill Parcells' Debut as Cowboys Head Coach
In a week one home game, the Vikings obliterated the Dallas Cowboys in Bill Parcells first game as head coach.
Daunte Culpepper threw his first touchdown to second-year running back Onterrio Smith and that's all they needed for the offense to blow up.
Culpepper threw five touchdowns in the game—two to Randy Moss—and the Vikings easily won 35-17.
3. A 5-1 Start to the Season
The Vikes started off hot in the first six games of the season, only losing to the eventual NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles 27-16 on a Monday night game in week two.
After the loss, the Vikings reeled off four straight beginning with division rival Chicago 27-22 at home in week three.
Culpepper again threw five touchdown passes in a week five shoot-out. The most important was a 50-yard strike to wide receiver Marcus Robinson in overtime to give Minnesota a 3-1 start.
The Vikings then went in to New Orleans in week six and beat the Saints 38-31 as Culpepper threw five touchdowns for the second straight week. Minnesota rounded off their first six games with a home win against the Tennessee Titans 20-3.
4. Kevin Williams' Scoop-and-Score in Week 12
In week 12, with the Vikings 6-4 and in need of a win against Jacksonville, the defense came up big when it had to.
Second-year defensive tackle Kevin Williams took a Byron Leftwich fumble, forced by defensive end Kenechi Udeze, 77 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.
On the play, first-year Viking cornerback Antoine Winfield threw himself into an offensive tackle to allow Williams to run untouched.
That's what this team was about on offense, defense, and special teams: excitement.
5. Winning in the NFC Wildcard Playoffs at Lambeau Field
This is my favorite Vikings game of all-time.
After losing to the Packers in week 16 on Christmas Eve and losing the NFC North along with it, the Vikings went into Lambeau Field having "backed in" to the playoffs—as many media members put it.
The Vikings forced Packers quarterback Brett Favre into four interceptions as Daunte Culpepper threw four touchdowns—two to Moss—and steam-rolled Green Bay 31-17.
Those are my five reasons why the 2004 Vikings are my all-time favorite team so far. Recent? Yes.
But I am young so cut me some slack. I have a feeling one of the Vikings' future teams will replace this team as my favorite of all-time.