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  1. #1
    dart18's Avatar
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    Fun Article from Pioneer Press

    BOB SANSEVERE: Vikings' playoff tale has a catch
    BOB SANSEVERE
    Pioneer Press Columnist

    Ever wonder what might have happened if Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Nathan Poole hadn't made that catch to beat the Vikings and keep them out of the playoffs?

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Vikings wanted another crack at the St. Louis Rams. They wanted to avenge their regular-season loss, and they wanted to do it in the NFC championship game.

    It didn't quite work out that way.

    The Rams lost to the Carolina Panthers last week in the divisional playoffs, so today the Vikings are in Charlotte instead of St. Louis to decide which NFC team advances to Super Bowl XXXVIII. It is the Vikings' third appearance in an NFC title game since 1998.

    "We really don't care who we play. We just want to get to the Super Bowl,' said cornerback Denard Walker, who has been a defensive standout for the Vikings since the final game of the regular season.

    Walker's interception on the final play against the Arizona Cardinals lifted the Vikings into the postseason. On a fourth-and-25 play from the Vikings' 28-yard line with time drained from the clock, Walker yanked the ball from the hands of wide receiver Nathan Poole as both came down in the end zone, preserving the Vikings' 17-12 victory.

    Reminiscent of the play rookie cornerback Charles Tillman made when he ripped the ball from Randy Moss in the final moments of the Vikings' loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 14, Walker's interception gave the Vikings the NFC North title while crushing the Green Bay Packers' playoff hopes.

    The play instantly became one of the biggest in franchise history and was voted the sports moment of 2003 in several online polls.

    Citing his interception as a "huge confidence boost,' Walker has led the Vikings with four interceptions in the postseason. He had three in the Vikings' 41-0 wild-card victory over the Seattle Seahawks at the Metrodome, and his 99-yard interception return of a Donovan McNabb pass in the opening minutes of the divisional playoffs put the Philadelphia Eagles in a hole that kept getting deeper.

    Several Vikings vowed before the Seattle game that nobody would be complaining about their intensity in the playoffs. A common gripe after they played lousy teams was that they often played to the level of the competition, or below it.

    "We have a tendency to get up for big games, and last time I checked, all the playoff games were big,' Vikings coach Mike Tice said.

    Tice is riding the high of two blowout victories in the postseason and a new five-year, $15 million contract extension offered by team owner Red McCombs at halftime of the Vikings' 38-3 victory over the Eagles. McCombs was so excited by the 31-0 halftime score that, in a move Fox TV analyst Cris Collinsworth described as "eccentric, wacky and typical of McCombs," he offered Tice the new deal on his way into the locker room.

    TV cameras then caught McCombs telling Tice: "But you better win. Purple Pride!'

    After the game, McCombs joked that he was "slightly humiliated" the Vikings were outscored 3-0 in the fourth quarter. Then he bear-hugged Tice and gave him the new contract to sign.

    The next day, McCombs said he had no recollection of ever offering Tice a contract extension, but when he was shown TV replays of the offer, he smiled and said: "Dang, can't nobody take a joke? Purple Pride!"

    In both playoff victories, the Vikings' defense played inspired ball. Players claim defensive coordinator George O'Leary has been their inspiration. O'Leary suffered a heart attack during practice on New Year's Eve but refused to leave the field until the workout concluded several hours later. Doctors, who said his heart attack would have been less severe if he had left practice sooner, told O'Leary not even to consider attending the playoff game against the Seahawks.

    In a scene that could have been straight out of a Knute Rockne speech, O'Leary was driven onto the field in an ambulance just moments before the game began. When the ambulance doors swung open, O'Leary could be seen smiling through an oxygen mask as he gave his players a thumbs-up. After that, the Seahawks didn't stand a chance.

    Defensive tackle Chris Hovan had five sacks in the two playoff wins. Hovan credited the sacks to O'Leary's thumbs-up and the late-season decision to move rookie Kevin Williams to nose tackle.

    "Now he's being double-teamed instead of me,' Hovan said.

    The Seahawks and Eagles tried double- and even triple-teaming Moss, but nothing has kept him out of the end zone. He scored eight touchdowns in the two games — five on receptions and three on punt returns.

    "I play when I want to play,' Moss said. "And, right now, I want to play.'

    If he and the Vikings continue to play the way they have in the playoffs, they might just win the first Super Bowl in franchise history.
    Sometimes I like to think there is more to life than being you know. . . really really good looking.
    -Derrick Zoolander

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    JoeMama is offline Starter
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    Fun Article from Pioneer Press


  3. #3
    ItalianStallion's Avatar
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    Fun Article from Pioneer Press



    I m like a Ja Rule poster, cause I'm off the wall.

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    Fun Article from Pioneer Press

    Latoya Jackson: "Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub...Yay God!"

  5. #5
    dart18's Avatar
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    Fun Article from Pioneer Press

    Sometimes I like to think there is more to life than being you know. . . really really good looking.
    -Derrick Zoolander

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    Bulldog67 is offline Starter
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    Fun Article from Pioneer Press

    Bleed Purple or Die

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    billvike is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Fun Article from Pioneer Press

    Darold "PaPa" Gustafson 1927-2004, Carol Gustafson 1935-2005, U guys are back together in Heaven, We Miss u!!

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    ItalianStallion's Avatar
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    Fun Article from Pioneer Press



    I m like a Ja Rule poster, cause I'm off the wall.

  9. #9
    Hawgski is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Fun Article from Pioneer Press



    sig courtesy of PPE

  10. #10
    dan3ski's Avatar
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    Fun Article from Pioneer Press

    can we clone Bud Grant?

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