Three things to know about next Sunday’s Cowboys-Vikings divisional playoff game:
1. Minnesota tight end Visanthe Shiancoe had this to say Sunday morning via Twitter: "Cowboys are leaving the suburbs and coming to the hood! Better be ready.. "ain't nothing nice"." Among other things, Shiancoe was referring to the Vikings’ 8-0 record at the Metrodome this season, located in downtown Minneapolis. Minnesota has been a confident, proficient and aggressive team all season at the home, and it’s probably the best advantage the Vikings will have going against a Cowboys team that is playing at an elite level. (The Cowboys are 5-3 on the road this season.) I really don’t think the Metrodome is the loudest stadium in the NFL, but it’s certainly claustrophobic and carries a long history of audio intimidation. The Cowboys lost their last three games there, including a 1999 wild-card playoff game, and last won at the Metrodome in 1995.
2. Minnesota coach Brad Childress gave his players the week off, and left tackle Bryant McKinnie better have made the most of it. McKinnie finished the season with several minor physical ailments and didn’t play well down the stretch, most notably getting benched after a disastrous night against Carolina’s Julius Peppers. McKinnie figures to face Dallas' DeMarcus Ware, an equally fearsome pass-rusher, in what could be the game’s most critical matchup. Ware had a dominant game Saturday night against the Eagles, and the Cowboys will have their pick of matching him against McKinnie or the Vikings’ rookie right tackle, Phil Loadholt. The Vikings will have to slide protection toward Ware no matter where he lines up. We have little confidence that McKinnie (or Loadholt) would fare well in a one-on-one situation.
3. There has been a long and colorful playoff history between these two teams. Perhaps the most-remembered loss in Vikings history came on Dec. 28. 1975. The Cowboys won that divisional playoff matchup after receiver Drew Pearson caught a Hail Mary pass from Roger Staubach to cap a fourth-quarter drive. In Minnesota, the receiver on that play is known as “Push Pearson” because of the long-held contention he pushed away cornerback Nate Wright before making the catch. Offensive pass interference wasn’t called, and the crowd at the old Metropolitan Stadium got so rowdy that field judge Armen Terzian was hit by a whiskey bottle and knocked unconscious.