Vikings Offense Keyed Up For Bucs

Dennis Green has one of the biggest coaching challenges of his NFL career ahead of him today and, depending on how he does, the future of the Vikings 2001 season hangs in the balance.

The cliches can be tossed out in earnest for the Vikings -- they have their backs against the wall, there's no tomorrow, they're taking the season one game at a time -- take your pick.

The truth is that the Vikings have to right the ship today or the 2001 season could be lost before it ever really had a chance to begin. While many teams lose two and even three games in a row, few of those teams win divisions or make the playoffs -- especially seeing as the third loss would be in the NFC and two of those in the Central Division.

The Vikings have enjoyed a lot of success against the Bucs at the Metrodome, but it will take a big effort from the offense to get the job done. While many think Brad Johnson, making his first appearance as a Viking opponent in his career, will pick apart the defense, the Vikings will likely need 24 points or more to win. The question now is can they do it?

While much has been made of Cris Carter's sideline tirade during the Chicago game, talk is cheap. Actions on the field will mean more and expect the Vikings to devise plays to open up Carter and Randy Moss to attack the soft spots of the Bucs zone defense. If they don't, an 0-3 record is almost inevitable and the sound you will hear is fans jumping off the bandwagon in earnest.

* Viking Update Editor Tim Yotter will be conducting an on-line chat session from the Metrodome from 11-11:30 a.m. Central on Sunday. A private chat room called AskVU with a password of VU will be used for anyone wanting to join in conversation about today's game. All you need to do is click on the "Chat" link on the left navigation bar, enter the VU password and start asking pregame questions.
* The Red Cross will be collecting donations for the victims of the Trade Center tragedy on the Metrodome Plaza starting at 9 a.m. today up until game time.
* For those attending today's game, give yourself some extra time to get into your seat because VU has been told security will be increased and lines will form to get into the stadium. Fans are being asked to expect about a half-hour delay if they show up less than an hour before kickoff.
* Only three NFL teams have yet to sustain a drive more than 10 plays and, surprising to many, the Vikings are one of them.
* Today will be the first time the Buccaneers have been favored in a game played at the Metrodome. Tampa us currently a 2-1/2 point favorite.
* In the last 10 years, 82 teams have started the season 0-2. Of those, just 13 have made the playoffs. The numbers for teams starting 0-3 is much more staggering, so the Vikings need a win today to try to add another team to that list. The good news is Tennessee is hoping to do the same next week -- the Titans are on a bye at 0-2.

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