Five catches, 60 yards, no touchdowns.
That will be the final line score of Cris Carter's long career with the Vikings. After setting records for all three categories with the team, his meager numbers Monday were perhaps part of the reason he wants to close out his career elsewhere.
VU caught up with Carter after the loss and he was holding court with the media that has learned to love and hate him. He made clear that one of his options -- retirement -- isn't an option, saying, "I have more football left in me. I still love the game and I want to be a player that can help put a good team over the hump."
Apparently he feels the Vikings won't be that team in 2002. Citing coaching changes, personnel problems and salary cap restrictions still hamstringing the organization for at least one more year, Carter indicated he would like to move on after his contract expires March 1.
Teams rumored to be on his wish list include Baltimore, Tampa Bay, where he started his career in Philadelphia, Denver, Miami and, if you believe the underground rumor circuit, perhaps even Green Bay. A new team has surfaced. With Az-zahir Hakim almost assured to be gone and Ricky Proel perhaps out of St. Louis, Carter could become a third receiver in St. Louis with Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, where his possession skills would complement their speed routes.
Carter said he hasn't completely dismissed the Vikings, saying he intends to meet with owner Red McCombs and see what happens after a new coach is hired. However, he followed that up quickly by commenting that the organization should have allowed Dennis Green to finish his career with the Vikings and it's possible that if Green goes to a team that has a legitimate Super Bowl shot in the next couple of seasons, Carter would consider following his mentor.
With all the mixed signals Carter has sent in recent weeks, one thing seems certain -- his game Monday was his last as a Viking, despite what you may read or hear in the coming months.
Despite a third-place schedule, the Vikings will still play nine games next season vs. 2001 playoff teams, thanks to getting Seattle (which will be ranked third in the new-look NFC West) and, for one year, anyway, can't escape a game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, along with the Giants, who rank third in the NFC East. The schedule for 2002 to is now complete. Here is the schedule: HOME: Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Atlanta, Carolina, Buffalo, Miami, N.Y. Giants; ROAD: Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, New England, N.Y. Jets, Seattle.
* Randy Moss fell short of becoming the first player in NFL history to reach 1,300 receiving yards in four straight years. He needed less than 100 yards in the final two games to set the mark and still had a shot going into Monday's game, but finished with just two catches for 9 yards and, by the final two drives of the game, he was on the sidelines -- packing it in a little early.
* The Vikings coaching change has lost a couple of candidates. Red McCombs backed off of Steve Spurrier's outrageous demands after meeting briefly with him -- he wanted part ownership of the team -- and his buddy Mack Brown of the University of Texas is out of the running. McCombs told VU that the fit isn't right in this situation, but he believes Brown will eventually become an NFL coach. Speculation has been that Tony Dungy may be a hard sell, since he has been quoted as saying he would be reluctant to take the Vikings job out of respect for Dennis Green, and Dungy and Green have the same agent. Although with the sweetheart buyout deal Green got, his agent may not be so reluctant to turn his back on McCombs and the Vikings.
* Mike Tice remains a solid candidate because of his good relationship with Moss, but McCombs said he is "going to take his time" in making a decision, which could mean waiting to see if Dungy is fired if the Bucs lose Saturday at Philadelphia.
* The Vikings had a bizarre stat handed out Monday night in the press box. In the 10 years since Green took over, the Vikings had only one goal-line stand that started at the 1-yard line with a first down that didn't result in a touchdown prior to Monday night's stand that included six stops from the 2-yard line and in.
* It's been mentioned before over the years in VU, but now a final period can be put on the sentence -- in 10 years as a coach with the Vikings in preseason, regular season and postseason, the Vikings never attempted a single fake field goal or fake punt. If they lined up to kick, they kicked -- every single time.
* The Vikings knew they were facing long odds heading into the fourth quarter. The Ravens have now won 20 games in a row when leading after three quarters.
* Punter Lee Johnson joined an uninspired list Monday. The loss to the Ravens was the 160th game Johnson has played on a team that lost the game, tying Washington's Trey Junkin for the all-time NFL record.
* The lawsuit by the family of Korey Stringer is going to be filed next week and will include Green and Tice as defendants, which some speculate could be a black mark on Tice's chances of getting a coaching job, especially if a trial drags on into the summer and could affect his head coaching duties.
* The Vikings were a 12-1/2 point underdog at game time, making the defensive touchdown in the final two minutes of critical importance to the gambling community. Just thought you'd like to know.
Carter Reaffirms He's Not Finished
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