Despite Loss, Vikings In Control

Despite a humbling defeat to the Rams, the Vikings still have control of their own playoff destiny -- even if they don't look like a playoff team now.

It's hard to imagine that a team that has lost five of its last six games can be in control of its own fate, but the Vikings face just that after Sunday's humiliating second-half collapse to the Rams.

While a wild card scenario doesn't look to be in the offing, a win over Seattle at home Sunday would go a long way to knocking them down a peg and giving the Vikings a much-needed cushion.

With four games to play, the Vikings still hold a one-game lead over the Packers and, with a win at Chicago, can guarantee all playoff tie-breaker advantages -- meaning that even if the Vikes go 2-2 in the final four games, the Packers would have to go 4-0 to win the division title.

But as the losses continue to mount, it's becoming clear that the Vikings will have to play in the opening round of the playoffs if they win the NFC North and almost assuredly play the top wild card team. At this point, that would appear to be the Cowboys or Seahawks, which makes Sunday's game even more critical. The good news is that they would be the home team in that game and wouldn't have to worry about heading back to St. Louis or going to Philadelphia for an extra week.

MONDAY NOTES
* Over the years, VU has made a point to bring up that the Vikings never attempt fake punts or field goals. One of the reasons given for the fake field goal absence was that the Vikes under Gary Zauner always had their punter serve as holder on kicks. With Gus Frerotte doing the holding, that wasn't an issue. After going 12 years without trying a fake field goal, when the Vikings did Sunday. It came when the team had a chance to tie the game 20-20 in the third quarter and the play, a shovel pass to Charles Stackhouse, was blown out when line penetration up the middle by the Rams knocked Stackhouse down. Our confusion is, if you have a quarterback who can throw the ball downfield and you need 4 yards for a first down, why throw a pass into traffic behind the line of scrimmage?
* One bright spot Sunday was Michael Bennett, who gained 98 yards on 14 carries. His numbers would have been higher, but the Vikings had to eshew the run once they fell behind by more than two touchdowns.
* Sunday's loss was the most lopsided defeat for the Vikings in two years. In 2001 they lost by an identical score to the Eagles.
* Daunte Culpepper was sacked eight times Sunday.
* Culpepper was the offensive star in the first half, rushing for 65 yards.
* With a minute to play in the first half, the Vikings and Rams were tied 17-17. From that point on, the Rams outscored the Vikings 31-0.
* The Rams had 10 or more points in each quarter.
* Jim Kleinsasser caught 10 passes for 79 yards -- both career bests.

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