Indeed, after winning 12 of 16 regular-season games in 2009 and rolling through a home playoff date with Dallas, the Minnesota Vikings were on the verge of their fifth Super Bowl appearance -- and first since the days of Bud Grant and Fran Tarkenton more than three decades prior.
And while the run to a title ended with an overtime interception and subsequent loss to eventual champion New Orleans in the NFC Championship, it's hard to comprehend that less than two calendar years have passed to bring the Vikings to their current state.
Ironically, it was a 42-20 loss to the Saints last week, in which Minnesota allowed 573 total yards and 36 first downs, that dropped the Vikings to 2-12 for 2011 and in distinct jeopardy of finishing with the worst mark in the franchise's 51-year history.
Minnesota visits the Washington Redskins Saturday at FedEx Field in an effort to avoid ignominy.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, December 24; 1:00pm ET
Location: FedEx Field, Washington, DC
TV Distribution Map: The506.com