It wasn't exactly the record-breaking offense of 1998, but the 2000 Minnesota Vikings could still light it up pretty good on offense thanks in part to Daunte Culpepper, Robert Smith, and Randy Moss. But mostly due to the veteran of the group, Cris Carter.
As the year progressed, it became clear that Carter would reach a milestone only reached once before in the NFL: 1,000 career receptions.
During that season, ESPN's Chris Berman had a highlight tag line for Carter: All he does is catch touchdowns.
(Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings)
Fitting, then, that his 1,000th catch was in fact a touchdown, on a nationally televised Thursday night game against the Detroit Lions on Nov. 30, 2000, in front of a sold out Metrodome crowd.
He needed five catches. Would he get there?
Here's the recounting from the New York Times:
"Carter caught his fourth pass at the Lions' 4 on the final play of the first quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, Carter beat safety Kywin Supernaw in the end zone, catching a 4-yard pass from Daunte Culpepper to make it 14-0."
In fact, Carter was so dominate in those days, check out this quote from Supernaw, the man who would accidentally make it into this history books, from Sports Illustrated:
"He's out there calling our coverages when we're lining up. It was a perfectly thrown ball and perfect timing. He outjumped me for it and caught it."
For most of us, the play is etched in our memories, a classic Carter fade toward the back corner of the end zone.
Because of reasons we can't quite fathom, it's hard to find a photo of the catch out there in InterWebLand, and the NFL is pretty tight with its video archive, but here's a link to the catch thanks to Vikings.com.
And there is a GIF:
But it wasn't just a catch for the record's sake – the game actually meant something, and Minnesota beat Detroit 24-17 to go 11-2 and clinch a playoff spot. And Carter finished with seven catches for 45 yards.
"A disappointing '99 season and a turbulent offseason in which Cunningham and Jeff George were asked to leave town didn't give Carter any reason to feel 2000 would present him a second chance," reported ESPN.com at the time.
For the record, Carter joined Jerry Rice as the only receiver to get to 1,000 catches and finished with 1,101 for his career. He has since been passed by Tony Gonzalez and Marvin Harrison.
Carter had dreamt about it gong into the game, but he admitted to the Associated Press, "I also had a dream that I would be dropping it."
He also had this to say:
"I knew it was going to be a touchdown. It was the right look. I was just trying to make the defenders think it was going to be a run.
"When the ball was in the air, I could see the revelations. I said, 'I am going to get this ball."