Rarely does any head coaching tenure end with the coach going out on his own terms. With the exception of Vikings legend Bud Grant, every Vikings coach has been unceremoniously fired when it became clear that they weren't producing on the field. And right when it ends, there isn't a lot of reflection on what that coach did or didn't accomplish; rightfully it becomes time to look forward to see where theteam is headed with the new guy, in this case Leslie Frazier.
But the Brad Childress era wasn't all bad--it ended poorly, but there were some highlights. Let's take a look at them. Here at SBN Minnesota, we love top 5 lists, and this will be the first of a few. We'll look at a few things from the Brad Childress era, from the top 5 games, worst 5 games, top moments, and worst moments. Today, we'll start with the top 5 games.
September 11, 2006: Vikings 19, Redskins 16. In the first game of the Brad Childress era, the Vikings did something that they have had a lot of trouble doing in recent history--win on the road, outside, on grass. At the time, it seemed a validation of everything that Childress had done at that point, and the new look, conservative Vikings ground out a tough win on the road. New running back Chester Taylor pounded the ball 31 times for 88 yards and a touchdown, Brad Johnson ran the new West Coast offense efficiently, and new kicker Ryan Longwell made two big field goals. I remember Chilly got a little emotional at the podium in the post game presser, and it looked like Zygi Wilf had made the right call. After the tumultuous off-season that saw Daunte Culpepper pick a fight and get traded, the widespread derision of Zygi Wilf's 'Triangle of Authority', and the training camp speed racer escapades of Koren Robinson, it was a great way to start the Brad Childress era.
October 14, 2007: Vikings 34, Bears 31. This was Chilly's first win against the Bears, and it was an historic one. The Vikings were coming off of a 6-10 2006 and stumbled out of the gate in 2007 at 1-3. One of those losses was to lowly Detroit, and Vikingland was a simmering pot of frustration. Adrian Peterson took his frustrations out on the Bears for 223 yards rushing ( a then team record), including TD runs of 67, 73, and 35 yards. It was also the most yards rushing the Bears had ever given up. Ever. And they weren't just straight ahead runs, they were electrifying, Barry Sanders'ish cutbacks, jukes, and 'ohmygod' speed. The Bears staged a furious comeback to tie the score late, but Ryan Longwell bailed out the Vikings with a 55 yard field goal (also a team record) as time expired. 55 yards. At Soldier Field. That was almost as ridiculous as Peterson's day.
November 4, 2007: Vikings 35, Chargers 17. Three weeks after Adrian Peterson set the Vikings single game rushing record, and eight games into his NFL career, Peterson set the league single game rushing record with 296 yards and three TD's on 30 carries. It was truly a tour de force for Peterson, who pounded it in form the one, and also took it 64 and 40 yards. It was a much needed win for the Vikings. They had lost two straight after the Bears win above, and would go on to win 5 of their next 6, but the early season struggles were too much to overcome, as the Vikes would finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs.
October 5, 2009: Vikings 30, Packers 23. This was a validation game, in many ways, for both the Vikings and the Packers. Were the Vikings (and more importantly, Brad Childress) right in going after Brett Favre, and were the packers right in letting him go and starting the Aaron Rodgers era? Remember, it was Chilly who doggedly pursued Favre throughout the off-season, and it was Chilly that drove him to Winter park when he arrived in Minnesota. For a night, the Vikings were vindicated, as Favre threw for 271 yards and three TD's while beating his former team in a game that wasn't as close as the score would indicate. The Vikings would get off to a 6-0 start en route to the NFC Championsghip, and Favre would have the best season statistically of his storied career.
January 17, 2010: Vikings 34, Cowboys 3. In what turned out to be the zenith of the Brad Childress era, the Vikings absolutely throttled what a lot of people thought was a better Dallas team in the divisional playoffs. Minnesota sputtered down the stretch, losing three of five to end the season, while Dallas came in to Minnesota fresh off of their first playoff win under Wade Phillips the week before. The season long fairy tale that was Brett Favre's 2009 season hit the high water mark, as he threw for four TD's, including three to wunderkind Sidney Rice. The defense played what was arguably their most dominant game under Brad Childress, holding the high powered Cowboy offense to three points and sacked Tony Romo six times. Brad Childress had just signed an extension, Brett Favre looked ageless, and it looked like both of them would be around for awhile.