Were Bucs Looking Past the Vikings?

While the Vikings typically don't talk about the importance of one game over any other, it was clear that a win over Tampa Bay was in the must-win category and the team reacted to statements by the Bucs claiming a loss would end the Vikings 2001 season for all intents.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a critical mistake in the days heading into the Vikings game Sunday -- they started looking ahead to "what if" and "when they" mode.

Bucs players and even coach Tony Dungy began looking at a win over the Vikings as a chance to bury them, Dungy saying that a victory over the Vikings would mean that Minnesota would have to win four more games than Tampa the rest of the season -- something he was convinced they can't do.

As always, Keyshawn Johnson opened his big mouth, ripping Robert Tate, Randy Moss and just about anyone else the media asked him to talk about, showing that he's still the punk he was when he came to the Jets and wrote a least-selling book in which he ripped everyone in the organization from ownership to teammates to fans. Yep, the Bucs were ready to preside over the Vikings funeral service, but a funny thing happened on the way to pulling the plug -- the Vikes weren't ready to go away.

Cris Carter told VU that the Vikings have been in the same situation, so he understood where the Bucs were coming from, but unlike Tampa Bay, the Vikings have learned not to take things for granted anymore.

"In 1998, we were unbeaten when we went to Tampa," Carter told VU. "We knew that if we beat them, they were done as far as the division went. We didn't do it. Last year, we had the same thing -- going to Tampa unbeaten knowing if we beat them, they were done. We didn't do it. Both times we were looking ahead to what would happen after those games. Maybe they were doing the same."

Instead of being in charge of their own destiny, the Bucs are now a game-and-a-half behind the Packers, have a loss in hand to the Vikings and have scored just two touchdowns in two games. So much for looking ahead.

MONDAY NOTES
* The Vikings have won four straight games vs. the Bucs at home and six of the last seven.
* Coming into Sunday's game, the Vikings had no drives of 10 plays or more in the first two games of the season. Sunday they had four drives of 11 plays or more -- including a 10 minute, 27 second drive in the second quarter that was longest sustained drive by the Vikings since the 1985 season and a 96-yard drive to score the game-winning touchdown.
* Through three games, Randy Moss still has no touchdowns. This is the second longest such streak in his career. As a rookie, he was held scoreless in four straight games. Since then -- a span of 39 regular season games -- he had gone just two games without scoring a TD just once. As amazing as that is, coming into this season, in 54 career regular season and postseason games, Moss had scored touchdowns in 36 games, while not scoring in just 18 games.
* Daunte Culpepper's 30 completions Sunday were a career high and perhaps a sign of things to come, as he completed four or more passes to five different receivers, including 15 passes to his running backs.
* Chris Walsh made a monster special teams tackle Sunday on a Vikings punt and the hit resonated more than just the molars it loosened on the return man. Walsh moved into first place on the Vikings all-time special teams tackle list with 121, breaking the old record held by Walker Lee Ashley.
* Carter's touchdown was the 126th of his career, tying him with Jim Brown for fourth place on the NFL's all-time scoring list.
* Kenny Wright could have been the goat in the Vikings loss as, after Keyshawn Johnson dropped a pass on third down that likely would have set up a Bucs field goal and kept Minnesota in the lead, he was flagged for taunting Johnson. In his defense, Wright told VU, "Coming into this week, Keyshawn had been calling Robert Tate things in the paper. He was talking the whole game. He dropped the ball and I let him know about it. I didn't touch him. I didn't do anything. They just called a flag."
* The Bucs tried to get the Vikings to abandon the run, but it worked out the other way. Tampa Bay averaged 6.8 yards a rush, but ran the ball just 16 times.

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