Vikings: 25 years later, Gary Anderson’s ‘wide left’ still stings

Minnesota Vikings fan does the Skol Chant during the NFL game between the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings on December 4th, 2022, at U.S. Bank Stadium, in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Minnesota Vikings have had plenty of painful losses over the years, four times getting to the NFL’s championship game and not being able to finish on top.

They’ve also had plenty of pain in just trying to get to the Super Bowl. It was 25 years ago Wednesday that the Vikings had one of the most painful losses in franchise history. It was a historic rookie season for Randy Moss. They went 15-1 during the 1998 regular season, then cruised to the NFC title game after beating the Cardinals 41-21.

It was Jan. 17, 1999, and the Vikings had a 27-20 lead on the Atlanta Falcons with 2:11 to play. Gary Anderson came on for a 39-yard field goal attempt. A conversion, and it’s a two-score game. He had made 122 straight kicks. The snap was good, the hold was fine but the kick sailed wide of the left upright. Just a slight pull, and the Falcons had life.

A play we’re quick to forget? With less than a minute to play, Corey Fuller tips a Scott Chandler pass. Robert Griffith dives for the interception in the end zone, initially catches it but can’t hold on. If he finishes the play, the Vikings are going to the Super Bowl.

The Falcons eventually lost to the Broncos 34-19 in Super Bowl XXXIII. The thought was the Vikings would’ve beaten the Broncos, had they gotten there.


The other wide left was eight years ago last week that Vikings’ fans remember vividly. Hosting the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs at then TCF Bank Stadium while U.S. Bank Stadium was under construction, both teams played through subzero temperatures and bone-chilling wind chills.

The Vikings trailed in the 2016 playoff match-up 10-9 with 26 seconds to play. Blair Walsh had a 27-yard field goal from the left hash. A chip shot for most NFL kickers. The snap was perfect, the hold was good and Walsh hit a complete duck hook wide left, leaving Mike Zimmer in disbelief.

It was the type of swing that leaves golfers to throw their club after. The only problem with the play? Holder Jeff Locke caught it with the laces in, most kickers prefer the laces out.

The Vikings cut Walsh the next season, and he’s been out of football since 2017.