The Key To Road Wins

Wide receiver Cris Carter is known for his athletic catches, so it may surprise some to see that Carter and head coach Dennis Green both agree that running the ball is the key to winning on the road.

Since taking over as head coach of the Vikings in 1992, Dennis Green's teams have finished with a sub-.500 road record during the regular season on only one occasion.

That came in 1995, when the Vikings were 2-6 away from the Metrodome and 8-8 overall. Not surprisingly, that also was the only season Green's Vikings failed to qualify for the postseason.

In his nine seasons coaching the Vikings, Green's clubs played .500 football on the road in five seasons and have had a winning record three times, including 1998, when the Vikings were 7-1 away from home.

Overall, Green entered this season with a 40-32 (.556) regular-season road record. But that percentage has taken a hit this season.

The Vikings entered Sunday's game at Philadelphia with an 0-3 road mark. If the Vikings are to extend their streak of consecutive playoff appearances to six, they will have to turn that around in their four remaining road contests.

But what is the key to winning in front of a hostile crowd? According to Green there are many keys, starting with being able to move the ball on the ground and stopping your opponent from doing the same.

"I think, first off, the basics," Green said. "That means you can stop people, you can stop the run. You're stopping the run, that means you can run the ball. Weather conditions will prevent you from being able to go in and throw the ball well on the road, but if you can stop the run and run the ball and don't allow any big plays on the special teams and don't turn the ball over then you can win on the road."

Receiver Cris Carter, who has played for Green since the coach arrived in Minnesota, agreed that being successful on the ground is the most important thing.

"You have to be able to run the football and stop the run," Carter said. "That's the key to winning on the road. Running the football is such a strong mental aspect of the game. It's demoralizing when people run the ball against you and it's demoralizing to the opposition when you run the ball against them. Those are the things. We can throw the ball, but the way this team is made up we need to be able to run the ball and stop the run.

"You're eating up the clock. You're sending a statement to the other team as far as the toughness of the team. It's the hardest aspect to do well in the National Football League. ... Not a lot of people want to do it, as far as defending the run or being able to run the ball. Those are the big aspects of winning on the road."

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