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December 06, 2001

Big Blues in Minnesota
By Dan Patrick

The Minnesota Vikings did the impossible on Sunday. They turned the New York Giants into the St. Louis Rams of last year and the Baltimore Ravens of this year. The Giants won 41-0 and it wasn't really that close. This defeat will reverberate for a while in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

Dennis Green, Daunte Culpepper , Randy Moss  and Chris Carter
Culpepper, Moss and Carter sit behind head coach Dennis Green in the final moments of the first half in the NFC championship game.

This kind of loss really hurts. Losing the NFC championship game by that kind of margin makes the loser, and everyone else, wonder if they really belonged in the game. The Giants spanked the Vikings and sent them to bed with no supper.

The postgame comments were not of the "I take my hat off to them, they were better than us today" variety. Randy Moss was left to wonder if Cris Carter should come back to Minnesota if he's looking for a Super Bowl ring. Moss, who had two catches for 121 yards and two TDs last week against the Saints, had only two grabs for 18 yards against the Giants. In fact, before he even took the field his team was down 14-0 and running back Robert Smith was essentially out of the game plan. Still, Moss was really rocked on Sunday. Moss also suggested that when all is said and done, he will play in the Super Bowl but, he added that may not happen for him in Minnesota. Moss did some real soul-searching after the game and I bet he does more over the next two weeks.

As for Carter, he and Moss were up against it on Sunday because of that fast start by the Giants. He did have a telling comment though, when he reminded us that the Vikings spent money on offense this year. As we know, the Ravens and Giants are built on defense and they are in the Super Bowl.

That 41-0 score makes you wonder about Dennis Green. Don't get me wrong. He's a good coach, but is he another Marty Schottenheimer? Right now, neither guy has won a conference title game. Now I understand bad matchups and stuff like that, but the Giants came at the Vikings on Sunday and never let up. Even when the Vikings knew what was coming, they couldn't stop it. It seems to me when an entire team can be reduced like that, and so quickly, there has to be a problem with the coaching. Green defenses have given up 35, 40, 38, 30, 49 and 41 points in their last six playoff losses.

Is Green an offensive guru to a fault? He wisely drafted Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper, but the same sharp moves have not been made on the defensive side of the ball. His former offensive coordinator, Brian Billick, is still an offensive coach but he is winning with a great defense. Billick did not come into Baltimore and try to remake it into a team that reflects his approach. He can live -- and win -- with Trent Dilfer, Jamal Lewis, Shannon Sharpe and a great defense. It has to gnaw at Green a bit that his former assistant is 1-0 in conference title games but he is 0-2.

For that fairly conservative team to just blow it open was a gutsy move. And the Giants' players responded to their coach's faith in them.

Let's not forget, however, how great the Giants were on Sunday. Jim Fassel is on a roll right now that many coaches never enjoy. His defensive coordinator, John Fox, is already a head-coaching candidate and his offensive coordinator, Sean Payton, began to make a name for himself on Sunday. But the man at the top of the Giants is Fassel. He is pushing every button right now. For that fairly conservative team to just blow it open was a gutsy move. And the Giants' players responded to their coach's faith in them.

That being said, these are tough times to be a Minnesota sports fan. Your governor is a former wrestler who is kind of a joke. The Timberwolves will be playing with a flat ball for the next five years. Your best Twin is Matt Lawton.

When you have to look to an expansion hockey team for something to cheer about, you're in tough shape. But hey, I sympathize with Minnesota fans. Remember: these things are cyclical. And Green will take a long look at his defense this winter, you can bet on that.

In the meantime, go Wild!

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Mort reads into Randy Moss' comments following the Vikings' loss.
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Mort on Cris Carter's future following a poor performance against New York.
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Real: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6