A storied past

The Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers will open the 2003 NFL season against each other Sunday at Lambeau Field.

But this isn't unheard of, these two arch-rivals clashing in the first game of the year.

This will be the fifth time the two teams have met in an opener.

It also happened in 1994, 1992, 1974 and 1962. And would you believe all four were also played at Lambeau?

Would you also believe that I was at Lambeau Field for all four of them, even in 1962, which happened to be my first year in the newspaper business.


So down memory lane we go.

In 1962, the Packers were coming off a season that saw them hammer the New York Giants 37-0 to win the NFL championship. Sorry, but no Super Bowls in those days.

The Packers were good and the Vikings, in only their third year of existence, were awful. The Packers won 34-7 and made things so rough on Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton that Vikings coach Norm VanBrocklin said: "I'm glad I wasn't out there playing quarterback."

Tarkenton threw five interceptions, was sacked for losses totaling 52 yards and managed to complete only 11 of 23 passes for 100 yards. The Vikings didn't score until late in the game when Tarkenton hooked up with Jerry Reichow on a five-yard touchdown pass.

The star of the game was "Golden Boy," Paul Hornung. He scored 28 of the Packers' 34 points. He ran for three touchdowns, kicked two field goals and four extra points.

Viking running back Bill Brown made his NFL debut in that game. He carried twice for 18 yards.

A capacity crowd of 38,669 packed Lambeau. The stadium has almost doubled in size since then.

By 1974, the Vikings were good; the Packers were not. The Vikings started slow, then won, 32-17. Everything went Wright for the Vikings that day. Jeff Wright intercepted a pass to set up a Vikings field goal in the first quarter and Nate Wright made an interception in the third quarter to set up the Vikings' tie-breaking touchdown.


Chuck Foreman scored three TDs for Minnesota and led all rushers with 67 yards on 22 carries.

Tarkenton was again the Vikings' quarterback, and even though Minnesota won he didn't have a great day. He hit on 14 of 23 passes for 116 yards and threw no touchdown passes.

The Packers' quarterback, however, turned in a miserable performance. If you guessed it was Jerry Tagge, you're right. He was 9-of-20 for 102 yards with no TDs and three interceptions.

The Vikings clinched the victory when Amos Martin picked up a fumble and lumbered 15 yards to the end zone in the fourth quarter.

There was a familiar face, at least for southeastern Minnesota fans, sitting on the Packers' bench that day. Dean Carlson, the former Rushford, Minn., High School and Rochester State Junior College quarterback, had just been traded from the Kansas City Chiefs to the Packers and suited up for Green Bay for the first time.

The 1992 game ushered in the Dennis Green era. Minnesota won 23-20 in overtime, winning on a 25-yard field goal by Fuad Reveiz.

Rich Gannon quarterbacked the Vikings to the win. He had a big day, completing 21 of 44 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns (both to Hassan Jones).

This game was also Packer coach Mike Holmgren's first as a head coach in the NFL.


Don Majkowski was at quarterback. Sterling Sharpe snagged eight passes for 99 yards and a touchdown.

The 1994 game was a defensive struggle with the Packers coming out on top 16-10. The Vikings gained a total of only 214 yards from scrimmage, just 48 on the ground. The Packers, with 281 total yards, didn't do much better..

Quarterback Warren Moon debuted as a Viking, but managed to pass for only 166 yards -- on 20 completions in 37 attempts. He was picked off three times. The Vikings' only TD was scored by the defense --- on a 13-yard fumble return by James Harris in the fourth quarter.

Packers quarterback Brett Favre was 22-of-38 for 185 yards and a touchdown.

The standout of this game for the Vikings was linebacker Ed McDaniel, who made 21 tackles.

So in four season-opening games, the Vikings and the Packers each have two wins. Two games have been close and two not-so-close.

What will this Sunday's season-opener bring?

Bob Brown is the executive sports editor of the Post-Bulletin. His column appears Wednesdays and Saturdays. He can be reached at

What To Read Next
Get Local