Panthers receiver Steve Smith has had the Vikings’ number for more than eight years.
He proved on Sunday night that he still has it.
In Week One of the 2001 season — Smith’s rookie year — he took the opening kickoff for a tone-setting touchdown in an upset of the Vikings at the Metrodome. It would be Carolina’s only win of the year.
In September of the following season, Smith scored his first NFL receiving touchdown against the Vikings in a 21-14 win at Minnesota.
The next time they met, Smith had a career-high 201 receiving yards in a 38-13 romp that featured a post-touchdown rowboat routine, a slap at the still-brewing Love Boat scandal in Minnesota.
Smith’s other other game against the Vikings came in Week Three of the 2008 season, his first game back after a two-week suspension for punching former teammate Ken Lucas. Smith caught only four passes for 70 yards.
Last night, however, he had Minnesota’s number again, with nine catches for 157 yards and a game-changing 42-yard touchdown reception, during which he rocketed past cornerback Antoine Winfield while the ball was in the air.
Smith complained in a post-game interview with NBC’s Andrea Kremer about another Vikings cornerback, Benny Sapp. Though it’s not yet known what Sapp said, he did enough to get Smith to go off during the game — and to get Smith to sound off about Sapp after it.