Moss's early exit irks teammate, coach

Updated: January 6, 2005, 6:32 PM ET
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- While the rest of the Minnesota Vikings were fighting to the last, Randy Moss was skulking away.

With his helmet in hand and head down, Moss slowly walked off the field Sunday while his teammates were lining up to try an onside kick with 2 seconds left. The Redskins recovered, handing the rattled Vikings a 21-18 season finale loss.

Although the play mattered little in the end, center Matt Birk took issue with Moss's quitting attitude, and confronted the receiver immediately after the game.

"It shouldn't happen, and if it happens again there might be some problems," Birk said Monday, choosing his words carefully.

Had Minnesota recovered, the Vikings might have been able to try a Hail Mary pass -- a play that Moss certainly would've been handy for -- to seal a playoff spot. It was a moot point when Carolina lost minutes later, allowing the Vikings to back into the postseason. They travel to Green Bay on Sunday.

But Moss's move spoke volumes about the shattered mental state of the Vikings, who lost seven of their last 10 to finish 8-8.

Few of his teammates and coaches noticed at the time, but television cameras caught the three-time All-Pro -- who has an infamous history of attitude problems -- walking into the tunnel toward the locker room.

Moss, who caught five passes for 66 yards and a touchdown in the game, had an hour-long phone conversation with Tice afterward. They talked again Monday morning in the coach's office for the same amount of time. Tice declined to comment about a possible disciplinary measure, but he indicated Moss knows he messed up.

"I understand his frustration," Tice said, "but we can't let our frustrations make us make poor decisions of poor judgment."

Moss was unavailable for comment, as he has been most of the season.

"I wasn't too much worried about it," wide receiver Marcus Robinson said. "He's going to do what he's going to do, and it's not a reflection on me or anybody else.

"That's Randy Moss. He can do basically what he wants to do. Definitely, he did what he did."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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