Vikings Face Long Odds at Pittsburgh

For years, Dennis Green has always seemed to find a way to win games many felt he wouldn't and in games where the Vikings' season was on the line. No time has that been more true than today at Pittsburgh.

The Vikings have struggled all season in an attempt to get above .500. With just six games to play, many seem to believe the Vikings will need to win all of them to have a shot at the playoffs, beginning today with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers may provide the toughest test of the remaining six games for the Vikings. They have an offense that pounds the ball with a big bruising running back in Jerome Bettis -- don't forget what players like Mike Alstott have done to the Vikings -- and a defense that is nothing short of amazing.

Wonder why the Steelers are 8-2? It's defense. The Steelers are No. 1 in the NFL in points allowed, rush defense, total yards allowed and sacks per pass play. With Daunte Culpepper battered and limping, an offensive line that has almost no depth and will likely be without Dave Dixon, Corbin Lacina and Brad Badger, a lackluster running game and a defense ready to blanket Randy Moss and Cris Carter, the Steelers pose a huge challenge for a Vikings team on the ropes.

Will this be the knockout punch to the Vikings' season? If it's not, it will be because Culpepper, Carter and Moss put the team on their shoulders and do what few teams have done this year against Pittsburgh -- get in the end zone more than twice in a game.

SUNDAY NOTES
* Dennis Green and Bill Cowher are the two most tenured coaches in the NFL -- both in their 10th season with their current teams. Green holds the distinction of most tenured coach since he was hired just weeks before Cowher.
* The Vikings are 4-1 in their last five games vs. Pittsburgh, and Green is 2-0 vs. Cowher -- both wins at Pittsburgh.
* The Steelers are off to their best start since 1983.
* Randy Moss may have some additional incentive today. Several members of his family and friends will making the four-hour trip from West Virginia to see him today. Moss used up almost all of the allocated tickets for players to today's game.
* The Vikings are 1-9 in their last 10 road games.
* If the Vikings lose today, they will be 23-23 in games played on grass under Dennis Green.
* If it means anything, the Vikings beat the Steelers in the preseason at the Metrodome.
* Daunte Culpepper was voted the Vikings' selection for the Ed Block Award this week. The award is given by each team and is voted on by players. It symbolizes courage and working in the community.
* The Vikings are a seven-point underdog. The last time they were a bigger road dog dates back to 1997.

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