INDIANAPOLIS –The Colts and Vikings are non-traditional NFL foes who battle only intermittently, and Sunday's contest in Lucas Oil Stadium will be the first series renewal since 2008.
The series dates back to the Vikings' expansion year in 1961, and the club met twice annually from 1961-66. The teams have met only seven times since the 1970 Merger and but five times since the Colts moved to Indianapolis in 1984.
The Colts lead the league series, 14-7-1, plus took the only playoff meeting between the clubs, a 24-14 win on December 22, 1968 on the way to Super Bowl III.
Though the Vikings visited Lucas Oil Stadium during 2009 preseason action, this is their first time in league play in the Colts' new facility. The Colts beat Minnesota in two meetings in the RCA Dome (2000 and 2004).
Colts 31, Vikings 28 – November 8, 2004 –Indianapolis reached this match-up with a 4-3 record, and it was hosting a 5-2 Vikings team on Monday Night Football. Though the Colts would finish 2004 with a 12-4 record, they were teetering on a two-game losing streak that included a last-minute loss to Jacksonville on a 53-yard field goal and a 45-35 loss at Kansas City where the defense surrendered 590 net yards.
That contest against the Chiefs was difficult for the club to handle. Doubts about the future hung in the post-game locker room, and Head Coach Tony Dungy reinforced with the team as it lost on Halloween that the talent was on hand to get the job done. Dungy said the team would just continue doing what it did, it would just do it better.
In what would begin a stretch of two undefeated months to end the 2004 season, kicker Mike Vanderjagt booted a game-winning 35-yard field goal with two seconds left as the Colts took a 31-28 decision over Minnesota.
The game started well for Indianapolis as the defense allowed but one first down on Minnesota's first two possessions, while the offense hit the end zone twice during that same span. The 14-0 lead came on a pair of Peyton Manning touchdown passes.
Five Edgerrin James rushes for 36 yards put the Colts on the Vikings' 11, and two Manning tosses to Reggie Wayne, the second on fourth down from the five, accounted for the game's first score.
Indianapolis moved 78 yards on 11 plays for the second touchdown. James ran five times on the march, and Manning hit passes to James, Marvin Harrison, Wayne and Marcus Pollard, the last being 10 yards to Pollard for a 14-point lead on the first play of the second quarter.
The lead slowly evaporated as the Vikings scored on two Morten Andersen field goals in the quarter. The Colts led at intermission, 14-6. James rushed for 66 yards in the half, on his way to 123 for the night. Manning was 12-of-15 for 113 yards. Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who would pass for 4,717 yards and 39 touchdowns for the season (finishing behind Manning's 49) was only six-of-nine for 77 yards in the first two periods.
The game swung to a tie moments into the third quarter when Nate Burleson returned a punt 91 yards for a score and Culpepper rushed for the two-point conversion.
Over the final quarter and a half, the Colts and Vikings each would score another two touchdowns setting up the drama for one final Indianapolis drive.
After the teams traded punts, Manning moved the Colts 87 yards on seven plays, teaming with Dallas Clark on a four-yard scoring pass. Indianapolis led, 21-14, with two minutes left in the third quarter. Culpepper squared matters with an eight-yard scoring pass to Burleson six minutes later.
The teams traded touchdowns again with 65-yard marches. Manning teamed with Pollard on a 19-yard toss with 7:24 to go for a 28-21 advantage. Onterrio Smith burst across from 24 yards out with 2:54 to go. Indianapolis needed to make one more push.
Starting with a completion of 17 yards to James, Manning then scrambled for 15 yards before being hit. An unnecessary roughness penalty of 15 yards put the Colts on the Minnesota 26 with 2:04 to go.
The final drive included one more memorable Manning play, a first for him, actually. With the Colts facing a third-and-five from the 21-yard line and 1:53 remaining, Manning, under pressure, threw a left-handed shovel pass to James for six yards. The play allowed Indianapolis to keep the ball until two seconds remained. Vanderjagt then nailed the kick with two seconds left.
Manning was 23-of-29 for 268 yards and four touchdowns. Pollard's two receptions produced two touchdowns. With his 123 rushing yards, James also had five catches for 56 yards.
Harrison had six catches to give him 666 completions with Manning, the most ever by a quarterback-receiver duo. Harrison also passed 800 career receptions in just his 131st game, the fastest NFL streak to that mark. Defensive end Dwight Freeney contributed two sacks before a national television audience.
The game touched off a bizarre run for the Colts. Indianapolis won seven straight games to sew up a playoff spot before dropping the finale at Denver, a game with no playoff seeding in doubt.
Indianapolis won its first 13 games in 2005, icing away the top playoff spot before losing two of its last three when resting starters. The Colts then won nine straight games to start the 2006 season before losing at Dallas on November 19. Indianapolis won 30 consecutive regular-season games when a playoff berth or seeding had not been decided.
Dungy was right prior to the Minnesota game in 2004, the team did have the talent to survive a two-game losing streak, and it started with a close victory over the Vikings.
Colts 18, Vikings 15 – September 14, 2008 –Facing a possibility of their first 0-2 start to the regular season since 1998, the Colts rallied from a 15-point third-quarter deficit for a key 18-15 road win in the Metrodome. Indianapolis escaped with the win on a kicker Adam Vinatieri 47-yard field goal with three seconds left.
All the Vikings' scoring came via the right foot of kicker Ryan Longwell. He booted five field goals, three of which from 45 yards and longer, but the game eventually took a turn on the one kick he missed.
For the first 44 minutes of the game, the score read: Longwell 15, Colts 0.
Longwell hit from 45 and 27 yards in the opening quarter. The first came after an interception of Peyton Manning, while the Indianapolis defense stiffened to force Longwell's second kick.
Indianapolis was forced to punt five straight times to end the first half. The club had four rushing yards, while Manning, playing after missing preseason following knee surgery, was 13-of-21 for only 86 yards. Longwell's 53-yard field goal at the gun put the Colts down, 9-0.
He hit another kick from 46 yards to open the second half and after Longwell's 28-yard field goal with 4:13 remaining in the quarter, the Colts offense finally put together a scoring drive.
Facing a third-and-six from the Colts' 24-yard line, Manning hit wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez for a 58-yard gain.
Before he went down, Gonzalez lateralled the ball to wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who was trailing on the play. Wayne took the ball down to the one-yard line.
From there, Manning was denied twice on quarterback sneaks before running back Joseph Addai converted to bring the score to 15-7 with 1:24 left in the period.
Indianapolis missed a great chance to cut the gap further when Vinatieri missed from 30 yards out early in the fourth quarter following a Dwight Freeney sack-fumble.
One possession later, Manning was intercepted near midfield, but Minnesota could not capitalize.
Longwell missed a 48-yard field goal with 7:09 remaining, and it was that break the Colts would use to their advantage.
On the third play following the Longwell miss, Manning hit Wayne for a 32-yard touchdown catch and Dominic Rhodes' two-point rush tied the game, 15-15, with 5:54 to play.
The teams traded punts on the next two possessions, with the Colts downing the ball on the Vikings two-yard line with 1:42 to play.
The Colts' defense forced a three-and-out and the offense got possession back at the 50-yard line with 1:07 remaining.
After gaining just one yard on the first two plays from scrimmage, Manning found Wayne for a gain of 20 yards. With no timeouts remaining, the ball was spiked with nine seconds left.
Vinatieri avenged his miss earlier as his kick from 47 yards had room to spare.
Gonzalez led the receiving corps with nine catches for 137 yards. Manning was 26-of-42 for 311 yards. Minnesota's Adrian Peterson rushed 29 times for 160 yards.
Indianapolis lost the next week at home to Jacksonville, then needed a 17-point fourth-quarter comeback to win at Houston, 31-27. After two more losses at Green Bay and Tennessee to stand at 3-4, Indianapolis won its last nine games to make the playoffs. Without the comeback wins at Minnesota and Houston, the club's six-year playoff streak would have ended. With those wins, Indianapolis went onto tie the NFL mark with nine straight playoff appearances from 2002-10.