The Pain Remains

It's been a full week since the Vikings "Disaster in the Desert" and it hasn't gotten any easier.

In 2002, the Vikings were dismal, so their 3-0 finish to the season, which included dashing playoff hopes for the Saints and Dolphins, was a positive. The team worked out in the offseason with more resolve -- hoping 2003 would mark their return to the playoffs.

After a 6-0 start, the Vikings appeared to be in cruise control for not only a division title, but making sure the road to the Super Bowl had to make a stop or two at the Metrodome.

Three months later, there is little left but painful memories of losing four games to teams with a combined record of 16-48 and a lost playoff dream.

That pain hits a little deeper considering the Vikings would have played last weekend at home -- vs. either the Cowboys or Seahawks -- and likely would have won with loud, raucous home fans behind them. They would be spending this week preparing for the Eagles. Instead they're preparing for 2004.

The ripple effect of those losses will carry over. A playoff appearance would have made the Vikings more attractive to free agents looking for a pay day and a Super Bowl ring. Now, the Vikings will be a tougher sell. A playoff appearance would have meant that the Vikings players would look to 2004 as the year they could jump up and win it all. Now all of those things have come into question.

It's a week later, the song remains the same and the pain is still there.

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