Tice making nice

Minnesota coach Mike Tice talks about his team's high-flying 3-0 start, Sunday's game against the Niners and comparisons between superstar receivers Randy Moss and Terrell Owens.

Q: What is the difference with this year's offense?

Tice: I think we have been very patient. We have been smarter with the football. We are a little better up front, although we are not a very good line yet. We are getting better each day. They are working hard to get better. They are starting to know each other a little better. I think we are bigger and more physical up front. I think we are being very smart with the football. That is the biggest difference I see.

Q: What makes Randy Moss one of the NFL's best receivers?

Tice: He has a good passion for the game. He works very hard in practice. He is a very smart football player. He has tremendous speed and athletic ability. He has great ball skills. I think that is what makes him a very good player.

Q: What kind of similarities and differences do you see between Moss and Terrell Owens?

Tice: They have different styles of play. I think they both have the same passion. I think winning is important to both of them. I think Terrell is probably a more physical receiver and maybe Randy catches the ball better. I would take either one of them any day of the week.

Q: Has there been any discussion that the hit on Daunte Culpepper against the Lions last week, which has put the quarterback's status in doubt this week, was uncalled for?

Tice: We turned it in and the only thing I would say is that he clearly was in the end zone by three or four yards and was already down on the ground and the player went after him. I don't think there was any malicious intent by the player to hurt him. I think he tried to go over the top of him and his knee caught him in the right spot. That is my opinion. Now, Daunte will tell you something different.

Q: What's your reaction to people saying Vikings 3-0 start is due to weak NFC North?

Tice: That is alright. I think the prognosticators are going to say whether it is the strongest or weakest division, but I don't think you can tell that until the season is over to be honest with you. I think in this league, any win is a good win. You can ask Green Bay who went down to Arizona and got beat. I think any win in this league is a good win, especially a road win. We'll take them. We'll go play Cal and take the win if they count it.

Q: What has made your defense more effective this year?

Tice: Well, we have better players. We have talent first of all. You bring Chris Claiborne in, Billy Lyon, you bring Biekert in at the end of training camp, you move Chavous to strong safety, you bring Denard Walker and Kenny Irvin in with veteran leadership, you have a guy like Brian Williams playing such good ball and you draft Kevin Williams and now all of a sudden you have some players and playmakers. That is really the difference, the players.

Q: What kind of advantage do you have with noise in your home dome?

Tice: We're aware of that, but I think on the road, it is tough for any football team. I tell my guys to watch the ball. It is hard to communicate for us on defense when we are at home because it is so loud. So, we have to use hand signals and it makes it tough.

Q: Is it the nature of the big wide receivers like Moss and T.O. to think that they are always open?

Tice: It seems like that, doesn't it? I'll take my guy any day of the week. He's not so high maintenance to me. I enjoy being around the young man. I think he has tremendous passion and he is very intelligent like I said. I'll take my guy any day of the week. I don't know any of the other guys, but I'll take my guy.

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