The Minnesota Vikings could have rested on their laurels after the pieces fell into place en route to winning Super Bowl XXVIII.
Head coach Dennis Green, along with offensive Coordinator Brian Billick, Defensive coordinator Tony Dungy and General Manager Jeff Diamond could not allow that to happen with Barry Sanders and the Detroit Lions along with the rapidly improving Green Bay Packers just in their own division, not to mention the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.
The defense carried the 1993 team, but an upgrade at quarterback was needed. So Diamond triggered a trade to bring Warren Moon to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Moon would delivered as advertised, beginning with a 4 TD performance in an early-season 34-30 win over Detroit and culminating in the Vikings quest for a fifth world championship in 25 years.
Five of the six real-life division champions replicated their titles in the virtual reality, the exception being the Dallas Cowboys, edged out by the Philadelphia Eagles (actual record 7-9) in the NFC East. The Bills and Raiders replaced the Patriots (somehow 3-13 in the sim) and Chiefs as AFC Wild Cards.
Despite finishing behind the Steelers, the Browns entered the playoffs with sky-high expectations after a 12-4 season. But for the third time in eight years Cleveland lost at home to the Raiders, this time in the Wild Card Round. A back-breaking Greg Biekert Pick Six proved the difference in a 10-9 Raiders win.
In the other AFC Wild Card, Dan Marino and the Dolphins rolled to a 49-17 win over Buffalo. The Packers lost for the second straight season at Dallas while the 13-3 49ers shut out the Bears 34-0.
The Raiders season ended in Pittsburgh a week later, meanwhile the Dolphins traveled to San Diego as they did in real life for a divisional playoff where an officiating crew led by Johnny Grier help hand the Chargers a 22-21 win. The sim proved different with Miami winning 38-21.
In the NFC, the Niners won in dramatic fashion at Philadelphia with a Steve Young touchdown pass in the closing seconds. The top-seeded Vikings prevailed at home against Dallas in an equally contested 23-21 result.
Unlike real-life, the Steelers would not come within three yards of the AFC Championship, the Dolphins booked their second conference championship of the Dan Marino era (and first in 11 years) with an easier than expected 34-16 triumph. In the NFC, the Vikings downed the real-life champion 49ers 23-7.
The Dolphins became the third team in the sim to play a Super Bowl in its own stadium, and either Marino or Moon would be able to get a championship off their late-career bucket lists.
Minnesota won Super Bowl XXIX by the exact same scoreline as they won the NFC Championship with a 23-7 win, as they had the previous year. With a second straight title, the Vikings can now claim the mid-1990s and enter dynasty discussion with three championships over seven years. The Vikings also become the first franchise to win five Super Bowls, with a 5-0 record instead of their 0-4 real-life slate (and 0-0 since 1977).
Just think if they hadn’t made that Herschel Walker trade…