Daunte Culpepper and Having the Worst Game of Your Career in the Biggest Game

Daunte Culpepper played in 109 games in his NFL career (including the playoffs), which spanned 11 seasons (1999-09).

It’s easy to figure out the biggest game of Culpepper’s career given he only made the playoffs twice (2000, 2004). It was the 2000 NFC Championship against the Giants in New York. Minnesota was a 1-point favorite.

It was a disaster. The Vikings lost 41-0 and were outgained 518-114 in yards. It’s one of the most lopsided playoff games in NFL history.

Culpepper completed 13-of-28 passes for 78 yards. He threw three interceptions and lost one fumble. He was sacked four times.

It’s easy to say this was the worst game of Culpepper’s career. The 13.7 passer rating was the lowest out of the 108 games in which he attempted a pass. It was just one of only two starts in his career where Culpepper was shut out. It was the only time he was the only QB to throw all of his team’s passes. It was 34-0 at halftime alone and Culpepper was just 6/14 for 24 yards and an interception.

Culpepper was not given a fair shake as the Giants took a 14-0 lead before he even took the field. The Giants scored an opening-drive touchdown, then the Vikings fumbled the kickoff and Kerry Collins threw another touchdown pass. Not many teams ever come back from a 14-point deficit on the road in the playoffs. Still, Culpepper gained a first down on just two of his first 20 drop backs.

So you can easily conclude that Daunte Culpepper had the worst game of his NFL career in the biggest game of his NFL career.

That doesn’t sound like something that happens too often, yet it actually happened to Kerry Collins just two weeks later. It was as if Culpepper passed a bug to him. In Super Bowl 35 against the vaunted Ravens, Collins completed 15/39 passes for 112 yards and 4 INT. He had a 7.1 passer rating, which was probably modest. The only score for the Giants was a kick return. Collins had a pick six to Duane Starks. Collins was the QB for the Titans in the 59-0 rout in New England in 2009, but even that day he arguably didn’t play as bad as he did just two weeks after being so brilliant against Minnesota.

Craig Morton also probably fits the bill. Pick either one of his Super Bowls.  If you’re expecting more research on it, I’m empty right now, but we can talk about it on Twitter or I can look into it down the road. Or Chase Stuart can just tackle it when his vacation’s over.


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