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    Patriots-Vikings Preview

    Patriots-Vikings Preview
    Associated Press
    26 Oct. 2006




    Not surprisingly, the New England Patriots are winning again and they're beginning to show more faith in their receivers. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings' unexpected emergence is due partly to a ground game they can finally trust.

    With Tom Brady's targets playing well, the Patriots look to extend a five-game road winning streak when they take on Chester Taylor and the Vikings on Monday night.
    New England (5-1) has won three straight since a 17-7 loss to Denver on Sept. 24, opening up a 1 1/2-game lead over the New York Jets in the AFC East.

    After missing the playoffs last season and bringing in a new coaching staff, Minnesota (4-2) has been a surprise contender in the NFC. The Vikings are coming off a 31-13 win at Seattle that ended the defending NFC champion Seahawks' 12-game home win streak, including playoffs.

    Monday's contest features two strong defenses, New England's resurgent passing offense and the NFL's second-leading rusher in Minnesota's Taylor.

    With Doug Gabriel and rookie Chad Jackson catching touchdown passes, the Patriots took to the air in a 28-6 victory at Buffalo last Sunday.

    Gabriel, Jackson, Reche Caldwell and Troy Brown combined for 11 catches for 123 yards, and Brady threw two TD passes for the third straight game.

    "I think we've improved in the passing game over the last several weeks," New England coach Bill Belichick said. "I hope we have with all the meetings and practices and walkthroughs that we've had. I think we're executing some things better in the passing game better than we were two weeks ago, three weeks ago.

    "That being said, I still think there's a lot of room for growth. There are a lot of things to work on. But I think we're headed in the right direction. We've made progress."

    The Patriots have been searching all season for reliable targets to replace Deion Branch, who was traded to Seattle after a contract dispute, and David Givens, who signed with Tennessee as a free agent.

    Brady's numbers have suffered because of the changeover. The two-time Super Bowl MVP entered last week's game as the league's 16th-rated quarterback, but he completed 18 of 27 passes for 195 yards for his highest passer rating of the season (112.4).

    A strong passing game to complement a defense allowing just 13.3 points a contest can only help the Patriots continue their run on the road. Their last loss away from home was on Nov. 27, when they were defeated 26-16 by Kansas City.

    Taylor raced for a career-high 169 yards, including a franchise-record 95-yard touchdown run, on 26 carries to lead the Vikings last Sunday. He has 590 yards rushing through six games - 493 of those in Minnesota's four wins.

    Taylor, signed as a free agent from Baltimore in the offseason, has brought stability to a running game that has ranked no better than 18th the past two seasons.

    The Vikings have been relying on Taylor, an efficient passing game and a defense that is allowing 15.8 points per game in their first season under coach Brad Childress.

    "The way our defense is playing," Minnesota receiver Travis Taylor said, "we're almost unstoppable. If we continue doing what we're doing on offense ... we're going to be a hard-to-beat team."

    Most of quarterback Brad Johnson's throws have been to Chester Taylor out of the backfield. He leads the team with 21 receptions, which isn't even in the top 50 in the league.

    "You've just got to try to do what you can to win," Travis Taylor said. "We've played against some good teams, good defenses, so you've got to take advantage of their weaknesses."

    Scoring near the goal line has been the Vikings' biggest offensive issue. Minnesota is tied for 30th in the league with a red-zone touchdown conversion rate of only 28.6 percent, scoring four times in 14 possessions. The good news is the other 10 all went for field goals.

    Minnesota has some health problems at receiver, though Childress indicated Monday that Marcus Robinson (bruised lower back), Travis Taylor (concussion) and Troy Williamson (concussion) could all be ready to play Monday.

    "I'm not going to count any of them out. Let's put it that way," Childress said.

    These teams haven't met since Brady threw three touchdown passes to lead the Patriots to a 24-17 win at home on Nov. 24, 2002. This is the first matchup in Minnesota since a 23-18 Vikings' victory on Nov. 2, 1997.


    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

  2. #2
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    Re: Patriots-Vikings Preview

    [size=13pt]VIKINGS OUT TO PLUNDER POINTS[/size]


    Minnesota Vikings fans might be casting covetous glances at rookie running back Laurence Maroney when the New England Patriots visit the Metrodome in a marquee interconference match-up on Monday night.

    Maroney starred on this field many time during his three years at the University of Minnesota, finishing as the school's second all-time leading rusher with 3,933 yards and 32 touchdowns.

    Known as the back with the dreadlocks, Maroney set a school record with 1,464 yards as a junior.

    Maroney was still available when the Vikings had the 17th pick in the draft. But after signing running back Chester Taylor as a free agent, Minnesota decided to use the pick on Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway.

    Unfortunately, Greenway suffered a torn left ACL in the pre-season opener against Oakland and was placed on injured reserve.

    With the 21st pick, the Patriots pounced on Maroney.

    Corey Dillon set a franchise record with 1,635 rushing yards in 2004 when the Patriots won their third Super Bowl, but missed nearly a third of last season with ankle and calf injuries and finished with just 733 yards.

    That was enough for Belichick and Patriots director of personnel Scott Pioli to take Maroney. They have not regretted it.

    Maroney leads all NFL rookies with 361 yards on 86 carries and has formed quite a one-two punch with Dillon, who has 328 yards on 82 carries.

    Belichick is not one to dole out compliments, especially to rookies. But even he could not resist when asked about Maroney's impact.

    "He's a playmaker and he's becoming a complete player," Belichick said.

    Possessing power and speed, the 5ft 11in, 220lb Maroney levelled Cincinnati safeties Madieu Williams and Kevin Kaesviharn with stiff arms in a 15-carry, 125-yard performance on October 1.

    Last week, Maroney returned a kick 74 yards to set up a touchdown in a 28-6 win at Buffalo.

    But the Vikings are quite happy with Taylor, who is second in the NFL in rushing with 590 yards

    After spending his first four years with Baltimore as a backup to Jamal Lewis, Taylor has proven he can handle the role of feature back.

    Last week, he rushed for a career-high 169 yards, including a franchise-record 95-yard touchdown run, in a 31-13 victory at Seattle.

    Taylor has certainly benefited from the presence of three-time Pro Bowl left guard Steve Hutchinson, who signed a seven-year,

    49 million deal with the Vikings in the off-season.

    Minnesota are averaging 116 rushing yards per game this season after averaging 91.7 in 2005.

    The Vikings have won their last four games on Monday night, including a season-opening 19-16 victory at Washington on September 11.

    This is the first and only Monday night game of the season for the three-time defending AFC East champion Patriots, who at 5-1 are off to their second-best start since Belichick became coach in 2000. It is exceeded only by a 6-0 start in 2004.

    Despite playing with a cast of new wide receivers with the exception of Troy Brown, Tom Brady has passed for 1,226 yards and 10 touchdowns with three interceptions.

    Doug Gabriel, who was acquired from Oakland before the season, and rookie Chad Jackson each caught a touchdown in the win at Buffalo.

    Brady is 19-4 in his career against NFC teams, including three Super Bowl wins.

    He threw for 239 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-21 win over the Vikings in November 2002.

    Vikings tight end Jermaine Wiggins, who had a 15-yard touchdown catch in the win at Seattle, was a member of the Patriots' Super Bowl-winning team in 2001.

    Click here to send us your sporting feedback


    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  3. #3
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    Re: Patriots-Vikings Preview

    [size=13pt]Quotes on the Patriots game[/size]

    Brad Childress, Brad Johnson, Bill Belichick & Rodney Harrison quotes, video & audio

    October 26, 2006

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  4. #4
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    Re: Patriots-Vikings Preview

    [size=13pt]FBN Patriots Vikings[/size]

    By The Associated Press
    October 26, 2006

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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    Re: Patriots-Vikings Preview

    "singersp" wrote:
    [size=13pt]Quotes on the Patriots game[/size]

    Brad Childress, Brad Johnson, Bill Belichick & Rodney Harrison quotes, video & audio

    October 26, 2006
    This is going to be a huge game for us. I like when we play teams like the Pats, it really improves our overall team. At least to me, you get a true idea of what type of team you have. And against the Pats, we will be tested. I love games like this. And by the way, nice sig of MVC. Are the cheerleaders doing a calendar this year? If so, I gotta get a copy.

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    Re: Patriots-Vikings Preview

    Week 8 Rundown
    Mike Tanier / FootballOutsiders.com
    27 Oct. 2006

    ...Games you should watch...

    Patriots at Vikings: The Vikings unveiled a tricky Mewelde Moore-to-Jermaine Wiggins halfback pass for a touchdown last week, just hours after the Chargers surprised the Chiefs with a LaDainian Tomlinson-to-Brandon Manumaleuna touchdown throw. Bill Belichick saw the plays and now has a case of genius envy. He spent much of the week down in the lab with his offensive assistants concocting a Laurence Maroney to Mike Vrabel shovel pass, to be followed by a Matt Cassell drop kick.

    The Vikings' crafty offense was showcased in all of the highlight reels, but their defense has spurred their surprising 4-2 start. Kevin Williams and the front four provide a solid pass rush, and E.J. Henderson has finally developed into a fine all-purpose linebacker. The Vikings give up too many passing yards, but they have a knack for scoring points with their defense. "That's pretty much been the mentality around here: that we're trying to put up points," cornerback Antoine Winfield said after Williams scored the Vikings' fourth defensive touchdown of the season.

    The problem with defensive touchdowns is that you cannot rely on them. The Patriots have turned the ball over just six times all year, so the Vikings cannot count on their defense to do much of the scoring. They also cannot count on the Patriots to rely solely on their rushing attack. Tom Brady finally figured out who Doug Gabriel, Reche Caldwell, and Chad Jackson were against Buffalo, completing nine passes to his trio of new receivers, including two touchdown throws. "All the guys are working hard," Brady said. "Everyone is part of the passing game."

    If the Patriots have repaired their biggest offensive problem, then the rest of the AFC is in trouble. So are the Vikings, who aren't good enough to ring up back-to-back upsets just yet...
    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

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    Re: Patriots-Vikings Preview

    "singersp" wrote:
    [size=13pt]Quotes on the Patriots game[/size]

    Brad Childress, Brad Johnson, Bill Belichick & Rodney Harrison quotes, video & audio

    October 26, 2006
    I like Childress' take on drafting folks.
    Nothing surprising, but just good to hear it from him.

    Q: When you started, did you look at New England and try and model after them?
    A: Well, the same is with the coaches you've worked for. I think you model after the good things, throw out the bad things, things that you want to emulate. You'd like to model their consistency. I don't know if there's a formula for that. You kind of look into how they drafted, how they've taken players to fit their system, how they train them. Not that I get an inside at how they train them. But you just kind of look at abroad, and you get to spend time when you play them in the Super Bowl and there was a time where we played them twice in the preseason. You get to see kind of an evolution of players and how they develop those guys. I think that's the key is development of those guys. You draft good football players but then you have to develop them within the confines of you system.
    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

  8. #8
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    Re: Patriots-Vikings Preview

    October 28, 2006
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    [size=13pt]A Reintroduction To Everything Purple [/size]

    By: Bob George/BosSports.net

    MINNEAPOLIS -- These guys lose Super Bowls as well as the Buffalo Bills do.
    Neither Fran Tarkenton nor Joe Kapp (the last Boston Patriot quarterback) could overcome their AFL/AFC foe in January. The Chiefs, Dolphins, Steelers and Raiders all found a way to beat back Bud Grant's boys in the early days of the Big Show. The song Purple People Eater was more than just a Halloween ditty in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but it never added up to a Vince for this watery corner of the United States.

    To think of the Minnesota Vikings only for their Super Bowl failures (0-4 in franchise history in the Big Show) is disrespectful, of course. You had a defensive line which boasted the Lou Gehrig of the NFL and a future Supreme Court Justice of the State of Minnesota. Tarkenton had some of the great wideouts of his day to throw to, including one who would go on to become a top policeman in the league office. Kapp is a former Patriot, but so also is arguably the best running back in Viking history.

    The Patriots and Vikings don't meet very often. These aren't the same Vikings you grew up with, if you remember Tarkenton and his gang. Even if you have clearer memories of Tommy Kramer throwing to Sammy White, you won't know them. The name Daunte Culpepper will ring a more familiar tone, except he now plays in Miami and isn't even starting there.

    This Monday night will mark only the tenth meeting between these two teams, with the Patriots holding a 5-4 edge in the series. The teams last met at Gillette Stadium in 2002, with the Patriots jumping out to a 21-0 lead but having to hold on in the end to win, 24-17. Randy Moss caught 8 passes for 92 yards in that game, but he plays for the Raiders now and won't be a factor on Monday.

    Two games in this series stand out. Their second meeting, at old Metropolitan Stadium, was one of the biggest victories of the Jim Plunkett era. Getting off to the best start since moving to Foxborough, the 5-1 Patriots came to Minnesota on October 27, 1974, facing a Viking squad that was both defending and future NFC champs. A late touchdown pass from Plunkett to Bob Windsor lifted the Patriots to a colossal upset win, 17-14 over the Vikings in their crib. But injuries would ruin this potentially stunning season, and the 6-1 Pats would finish at 7-7 and out of the playoffs.

    Twenty years later, Drew Bledsoe had arguably his finest game as a pro. With the Patriots trailing the Vikings 20-0 at old Foxborough Stadium, Bledsoe went on a record-breaking rampage to rally the Patriots to a 26-20 win in overtime, hitting Kevin Turner from 14 yards out for the game winner. Bledsoe set NFL records with 45 completions and 70 attempts, throwing for 426 yards and three touchdowns.

    The Patriots visit the Metrodome for the first time since 2000. In the third game coached by Bill Belichick, the Patriots dropped a 21-13 decision. Bledsoe was 21 of 35 for only 190 yards, while Culpepper was 19 of 28 passing and also rushed for 59 yards on 12 carries. Robert Smith had 91 rushing yards on 29 carries, suggesting that the Patriot run defense was not quite as stout as it is today.

    Tom Brady comes into this game undefeated in domed stadiums. But this domed stadium is notorious for loud crowds helping the home team (not always; in World Series play, the Twins are 8-0 here, but have won only one home playoff game since then). The Patriots can practice in noisy conditions, but for this place, they may want to bring in more stereos (or some of Spinal Tap's bass amps which crank up to "11" on the volume meter).

    The Patriots don't know the Vikings particularly well, which should be obvious given that the teams have met only twice since Y2K. But they do know that someone named Chester Taylor ripped off a 95-yard touchdown run against Seattle last week, the longest scoring play in team history. They do know that the team has a steady quarterback named Brad Johnson, who can say he has won a Super Bowl as a starting quarterback. They do know that the Vikings have a speedy defense which loves to blitz. They do know a certain tight end from East Boston named Jermaine Wiggins and a mercurial wideout named Bethel Johnson.

    Other than that, this will be a game of great unfamiliarity for the Patriots. And if you want one coach in the league to learn an unfamiliar team quick, it's Belichick.

    Despite the great job that counterpart rookie head coach Brad Childress has done, Belichick will probably learn the Vikings better than Childress will learn the Patriots. In Super Bowl XXXVIII, for example, Belichick did a brilliant job of mastering a Carolina Panther team the Patriots knew precious little about, and the game was close only because both Patriot starting safeties were lost to injury by the middle of the fourth quarter. Belichick breaks down film perhaps better than any other head coach in the league, and can be counted on as always to give his players the right game plan for Monday night.

    The biggest issue surrounding this game is the health of Richard Seymour. In a throwback to the Denver Monday night game in 2003, Seymour's injury status (injured elbow last week at Buffalo) is being downplayed, but he could very well not even make the plane trip to the Twin Cities. If Seymour doesn't play, it could prove to be a critical matchup problem for the Patriots in dealing with the formidable duo of Bryant McKinnie and Steve Hutchinson on the left side of the Vikings' offensive line. This right here could turn out to be the biggest factor in who wins on Monday.

    Otherwise, both defenses are stout and should hold both teams down in scoring points. Where Brady will likely have to make his money is short, quick passes and perhaps screens to cut down on blitzes. Laurence Maroney is coming home to his former crib, but the Vikings will be ready for the former Golden Gopher. Minnesota is number one in the NFL against the run, allowing only 70.8 rushing yards per game, but they are only 18th in the league against the pass.

    This game won't conjure up any old memories of the Vikings you may have been more familiar with in days gone by. Interconference games engender strange matchups with rarely any animosity (unless the previous year's Super Bowl combatants should meet). The Patriots don't have much history with this club, so this game merely comes down to an interesting meeting between two fine teams, and to see which team gameplans better.

    Still, you might want to close your eyes and try to envision Tarkenton scrambling away from Seymour, and who would win that chase.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  9. #9
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    Re: Patriots-Vikings Preview

    "singersp" wrote:
    October 28, 2006
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    [size=13pt]A Reintroduction To Everything Purple [/size]

    By: Bob George/BosSports.net

    MINNEAPOLIS -- These guys lose Super Bowls as well as the Buffalo Bills do.
    Neither Fran Tarkenton nor Joe Kapp (the last Boston Patriot quarterback) could overcome their AFL/AFC foe in January. The Chiefs, Dolphins, Steelers and Raiders all found a way to beat back Bud Grant's boys in the early days of the Big Show. The song Purple People Eater was more than just a Halloween ditty in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but it never added up to a Vince for this watery corner of the United States.

    To think of the Minnesota Vikings only for their Super Bowl failures (0-4 in franchise history in the Big Show) is disrespectful, of course. You had a defensive line which boasted the Lou Gehrig of the NFL and a future Supreme Court Justice of the State of Minnesota. Tarkenton had some of the great wideouts of his day to throw to, including one who would go on to become a top policeman in the league office. Kapp is a former Patriot, but so also is arguably the best running back in Viking history.

    The Patriots and Vikings don't meet very often. These aren't the same Vikings you grew up with, if you remember Tarkenton and his gang. Even if you have clearer memories of Tommy Kramer throwing to Sammy White, you won't know them. The name Daunte Culpepper will ring a more familiar tone, except he now plays in Miami and isn't even starting there.

    This Monday night will mark only the tenth meeting between these two teams, with the Patriots holding a 5-4 edge in the series. The teams last met at Gillette Stadium in 2002, with the Patriots jumping out to a 21-0 lead but having to hold on in the end to win, 24-17. Randy Moss caught 8 passes for 92 yards in that game, but he plays for the Raiders now and won't be a factor on Monday.

    Two games in this series stand out. Their second meeting, at old Metropolitan Stadium, was one of the biggest victories of the Jim Plunkett era. Getting off to the best start since moving to Foxborough, the 5-1 Patriots came to Minnesota on October 27, 1974, facing a Viking squad that was both defending and future NFC champs. A late touchdown pass from Plunkett to Bob Windsor lifted the Patriots to a colossal upset win, 17-14 over the Vikings in their crib. But injuries would ruin this potentially stunning season, and the 6-1 Pats would finish at 7-7 and out of the playoffs.

    Twenty years later, Drew Bledsoe had arguably his finest game as a pro. With the Patriots trailing the Vikings 20-0 at old Foxborough Stadium, Bledsoe went on a record-breaking rampage to rally the Patriots to a 26-20 win in overtime, hitting Kevin Turner from 14 yards out for the game winner. Bledsoe set NFL records with 45 completions and 70 attempts, throwing for 426 yards and three touchdowns.

    The Patriots visit the Metrodome for the first time since 2000. In the third game coached by Bill Belichick, the Patriots dropped a 21-13 decision. Bledsoe was 21 of 35 for only 190 yards, while Culpepper was 19 of 28 passing and also rushed for 59 yards on 12 carries. Robert Smith had 91 rushing yards on 29 carries, suggesting that the Patriot run defense was not quite as stout as it is today.

    Tom Brady comes into this game undefeated in domed stadiums. But this domed stadium is notorious for loud crowds helping the home team (not always; in World Series play, the Twins are 8-0 here, but have won only one home playoff game since then). The Patriots can practice in noisy conditions, but for this place, they may want to bring in more stereos (or some of Spinal Tap's bass amps which crank up to "11" on the volume meter).

    The Patriots don't know the Vikings particularly well, which should be obvious given that the teams have met only twice since Y2K. But they do know that someone named Chester Taylor ripped off a 95-yard touchdown run against Seattle last week, the longest scoring play in team history. They do know that the team has a steady quarterback named Brad Johnson, who can say he has won a Super Bowl as a starting quarterback. They do know that the Vikings have a speedy defense which loves to blitz. They do know a certain tight end from East Boston named Jermaine Wiggins and a mercurial wideout named Bethel Johnson.

    Other than that, this will be a game of great unfamiliarity for the Patriots. And if you want one coach in the league to learn an unfamiliar team quick, it's Belichick.

    Despite the great job that counterpart rookie head coach Brad Childress has done, Belichick will probably learn the Vikings better than Childress will learn the Patriots. In Super Bowl XXXVIII, for example, Belichick did a brilliant job of mastering a Carolina Panther team the Patriots knew precious little about, and the game was close only because both Patriot starting safeties were lost to injury by the middle of the fourth quarter. Belichick breaks down film perhaps better than any other head coach in the league, and can be counted on as always to give his players the right game plan for Monday night.

    The biggest issue surrounding this game is the health of Richard Seymour. In a throwback to the Denver Monday night game in 2003, Seymour's injury status (injured elbow last week at Buffalo) is being downplayed, but he could very well not even make the plane trip to the Twin Cities. If Seymour doesn't play, it could prove to be a critical matchup problem for the Patriots in dealing with the formidable duo of Bryant McKinnie and Steve Hutchinson on the left side of the Vikings' offensive line. This right here could turn out to be the biggest factor in who wins on Monday.

    Otherwise, both defenses are stout and should hold both teams down in scoring points. Where Brady will likely have to make his money is short, quick passes and perhaps screens to cut down on blitzes. Laurence Maroney is coming home to his former crib, but the Vikings will be ready for the former Golden Gopher. Minnesota is number one in the NFL against the run, allowing only 70.8 rushing yards per game, but they are only 18th in the league against the pass.

    This game won't conjure up any old memories of the Vikings you may have been more familiar with in days gone by. Interconference games engender strange matchups with rarely any animosity (unless the previous year's Super Bowl combatants should meet). The Patriots don't have much history with this club, so this game merely comes down to an interesting meeting between two fine teams, and to see which team gameplans better.

    Still, you might want to close your eyes and try to envision Tarkenton scrambling away from Seymour, and who would win that chase.
    Typical Bahston sportswriter...good sentence construction, nice writing style...a nice camouflage for all of the (no so) subtle pot shots (some of the references SO ANCIENT that they have absolutely NO BEARING on the game Monday night) that he takes at our team...and try as he might, he can't help but let his bias shine through...and his misplaced arrogance is just one more reason why I can't stand most Bahstonians.
    BANNED OR DEAD...I'LL TAKE EITHER ONE

  10. #10
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    Re: Patriots-Vikings Preview

    NOTE TO MIKE TOMLIN!

    The Pats are pass heavy in the red zone. Out of Brady's 10 TD passes, 8 were from inside the 20. If we are going to hold them to FGs when they do get in the red zone. We have to defend against the pass well. Belicheck is the kind of guy who uses Playaction on the 3 yard line. Beware of the short TD pass!
    "I hate when threads are destroyed by facts and logic."
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    Thanks Josdin!

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