Bad Memories Spur Gutsy Call

Normally Dennis Green favors the more conservative play-calling, but Monday night when he faced an opponent that killed his Super Bowl hopes in 1998, Green was downright aggressive.

When a team is desperate and knows it, chances that might not have been taken before become allowable. By the same token, having a history with a given player or opponent can also affect a coach's decision-making.

Both came into play as the Vikings defeated the Giants on Monday Night Football, as a play and a player combined to make up coach Dennis Green's mind and create the turning point of the game.

As a general rule, Green has always fallen on the side of taking what he views to be the more sure thing. If you have a chance to get an easy field goal or risk getting nothing in hopes of a touchdown, he ordinarily would go for the field goal. But these are different times, and a player on the other sideline brought back some bad memories.

With a little over nine minutes remaining in the game, the Vikings were at the end of their second drive of the half — both long, extended drives. The first ended in the red zone with an interception to keep the Vikings behind 16-14. This time the ball was on the 1-yard line and Green was faced with a season-altering decision — take the three points and the lead or go for a touchdown. Across the field, Green saw Giants kicker Morten Andersen, who had beaten the Vikings in 1998 NFC title game with Atlanta. That combination was enough for him.

"We were 3-5 and could have kicked a field goal to take a one-point lead," Green told VU. "But when you look over and see Morten Andersen on the other side and how dangerous he is as a field goal kicker, you kind of don't want to do that. We thought we'd take a chance on it."

The gutsy call paid off, as Daunte Culpepper hit Cris Carter following a play-fake and scored the go-ahead touchdown. Less than three minutes later, Culpepper and Randy Moss teamed up for a 57-yard touchdown and a 28-16 lead. The chance paid off and may not be the last Vikings fans see.

"We went for it more than we normally would, but we will probably have to play that way the rest of the season," Green told VU.

The willingness to take a chance put the Vikings up in a game they had to win, took Andersen out of the equation and delivered the turning point of the game. VU

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