Thread: Pregame stories
09-10-2004, 08:42 AM #1Rookie
- Join Date
- Dec 1969
BY SEAN JENSEN
Vikings confident they can beat Dallas defense
The Vikings open the season Sunday against the NFL's reigning No. 1 defense, and do so without their No. 1 running back.
So why doesn't anyone at Winter Park seem nervous?
"It's just the swagger of us being an excellent offense," Vikings running back Onterrio Smith said. "We're very sound in every aspect of our offense. So if one man goes down, one man needs to step up. That's what makes us so good."
With Michael Bennett out with a knee injury, veteran Moe Williams will start Sunday against Dallas. But Smith will get most of the carries against the Cowboys' vaunted defense, just as he did last season. Although Bennett missed the first six games, the Vikings cruised to a 6-0 start with Smith and Williams doing a more than adequate job.
Smith credited that success to the team's offensive line, which started and remained together for all 16 games last season.
"That's where the game is won, up front," Smith said. "They make it easier for us running backs and for the receivers and Daunte Culpepper to get their reads. That's where it all starts."
The smallest of the linemen is easily the best, three-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk, who also happens to stand 6 feet 4 and weigh 309 pounds. The rest of the starting linemen are at least 6-5 and weigh at least 318 pounds.
"I think it's a great group," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "I wouldn't trade our O-line for anybody else's.
"I guess that's saying we've got a pretty good O-line."
The offensive line played a key role in making the Vikings the NFL's top-ranked offense. Conversely, the Cowboys' defensive line shouldn't be overlooked. La'Roi Glover is a four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle who once had 17 sacks in a season. Defensive end Greg Ellis has 15.5 sacks the past two seasons.
"I think our O-line is playing solid ball," Vikings head coach Mike Tice said, "but (Glover) is playing excellent football right now, so we we've got our work cut out for us. I can promise you that."
Birk is returning from a sports hernia that limited him during the exhibition season. But left guard Chris Liwienski said the unit's familiarity with one another should help them quickly adjust.
"You know who is next to you," Liwienski said, "and you can pass things off a certain way. So it's definitely very helpful."
Birk isn't too concerned about the line gelling.
"It's just getting back into game mode, and just being out there," he said. "Everyone has to adjust to playing 60 to 80 plays."
As for the unit's goals, Birk said, "We have high expectations.
"We did all right last year, but we want to get better as a unit."
They might not have a tougher test this season than Sunday's.
Last season, the Cowboys held their final three regular-season opponents to 16 combined points, and they boasted the league's best pass defense and No. 3-rated run defense. The Vikings, meanwhile, had last year's fourth-best run and pass offense.
"This is a classic matchup," Linehan said. "We feel confident in our ability to run or pass, but we also know that we've got a challenge ahead of us because we're not going against an ordinary defense. We're going against a great defense."
So does Linehan really want the Cowboys this early?
"I think it's great," he said. "Mainly, it gets our attention. It gets your attention when you're going against the best."
09-10-2004, 08:43 AM #2Rookie
- Join Date
- Dec 1969
Randy Moss: No hard feelings toward Dallas
Kevin Seifert, Star Tribune
September 10, 2004
He contorted his face in a typically ambiguous way. His eyelids squinted tightly, hiding whatever his eyes might betray. Was it maturity? Boredom? Or are Randy Moss' thoughts already in Jacksonville, Fla., -- site of Super Bowl XXXIX?
"I've done everything that this league has put out there for me," Moss said. "Every little obstacle. There's nothing more for me to accomplish in this league as an individual. If I win an MVP, that doesn't mean anything to me. If the Super Bowl is not with it, what's the MVP going to get me?"
As he stands on the brink of -- yes -- his seventh season, Moss no longer is interested in statistics. His six-year run of 525 receptions and 8,375 yards, more than any other receiver in his first six seasons, is old news.
And sorry -- he has no bold predictions to espouse. Moss, in fact, insisted Thursday he no longer resents the Dallas Cowboys, against whom he once vowed eternal revenge for ignoring him in the 1998 draft.
Randy MossJim GehrzStar TribuneWhen he lines up Sunday against the Cowboys, Moss will see nothing but just another team standing in the way of his Super Bowl march.
"I think at the beginning of my career," he said, "I was holding a grudge for them leading me down the wrong path. They told me they were going to draft me, and they weren't. There was a lot of other teams there, such as the Chicago Bears and other ones. There were [2 teams that really passed on me.
"At first, it really wasn't on anybody besides Dallas, because they fed me with the false sense of being a Cowboy. And my mindset was to be a Cowboy. But that grudge, I've forgotten about that. It's not big."
He nodded when reminded that some of his best games have come against Dallas. "I know that," said Moss, who has caught 21 passes for 525 yards in four games against the Cowboys. Eight of those receptions have gone for touchdowns, including four of at least 51 yards.
Is another dominant afternoon in the offing? Oh, please. How clichÃ©.
"I just expect a winning performance from the whole team," Moss said. "As far as my individual efforts and my individual play, I think it will speak for itself if everybody else around me gets open. I'm not the type of player that gets the offense going. The offense gets me going, such as the running backs and the other receivers making plays and so forth.
"It'll be interesting to see. We've got weapons on this team. If they give us what we want, then we're going to take it. But if not, we've just got to stay calm and play football. That's about it."
While his aspirations reflect coach Mike Tice's stated goals -- winning the NFC North and then the Super Bowl -- Moss has learned to temper his excitement. He suggested waiting "at least one game" before crowning the Vikings offense as the NFL's best. And eight months after the Vikings' 3-7 collapse to end the 2003 season, Moss is not ready to proclaim the team Jacksonville-bound.
"We've got a good team," Moss said. "But hell, we had a good team last year and you saw what happened. You've just got to wait and see."
He did acknowledge a positive impression of the new-look defense, which boasts four new starters and a new coordinator in Ted Cottrell. Opponents managed a combined three points against Vikings starters in the first quarter of this summer's preseason games.
"In the preseason, for the defense to be able to get off the field and give us the ball back, that's very eye-catching to me," Moss said. "As an offensive player, we want the ball. As a defensive player, you want to get off the field. That goes back to how explosive our offense can be. It depends on how many times we get the ball. What the defense did in the preseason was very eye-catching to me."
As he spoke Thursday, the remainder of the Vikings' receiving corps -- Marcus Robinson, Nate Burleson, Kelly Campbell and Keenan Howry -- gathered nearby. "Eighty-four!" Campbell yelled. "Let's go. We got a meeting!"
Moss returned fire.
"Y'all don't run stuff around here," he said. "I do. I'll be in there in a few.
"Y'all are going to have to wait on me."
Defeated, the group trudged back inside.
Moss whirled. His face contorted again. The fun was over. There was work to be done.[img:2dca9ca3d7]http://www.boomspeed.com/insano/ss.jpg[/img:2dca9ca3d7]
09-10-2004, 09:01 AM #3
Great articals SS it was interesting the Respect TICE and Linehan have for Dallas.... and I hope it is a two way street....if not Dallas will have a big surprise.....No matter It will be a great game baring any injuries....good luck SS and the other Cowboy posters...Yesterday is History
Tomorrow a Mystery
TODAY is a GIFT that is why WE
call it the "PRESENT"
09-10-2004, 09:51 AM #4Hall of Famer
- Join Date
- Dec 1969
He suggested waiting "at least one game" before crowning the Vikings offense as the NFL's best
This is the best line in the whole article!"Meet at the quarterback!" -Purple People Eaters
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