One For The Money

Let the hyperbole begin -- we couldn't find a suitable photo of Don Muhlbach to include here. By virtue of Sunday's games, the Vikes-Packers game is as big of a meeting as there may have ever been.

Any Vikings-Packers week is special for fans. But perhaps never -- at least not in the recent past -- has a Vikings-Pack game ever meant more than Friday's game will. Thanks to Minnesota's 28-27 win over the Lions and Green Bay's loss to the Jags, Friday's game will have three things at stake.

To the winner goes the NFC North title. To the winner goes a home game in the first round of the playoffs. To the winner goes a guaranteed trip to Atlanta with a win -- avoiding the Eagles until a potential NFC title game where "choke" will be the word of week.

To the loser goes a likely wild-card berth and a one-and-out in the playoffs. Is that enough to make Christmas Eve special? To the victor goes the spoils. To the loser goes a blue Christmas and spoiled season.

* Don't pity Steve Mariucci. Remember two words -- Trey Junkin. He was the center pulled out of retirement by the Giants the last time Mariucci won a playoff game. He was a long snapper. After a miracle march in the waning seconds, it was Junkin's bad snap that kept Mariucci's Super Bowl dreams alive. The Bucs crushed that a week later, but he can feel for rookie fill-in long snapper Don Muhlbach, who may feel more like the remorse Donnie Moore felt than the malaise of Junkin.
* Mike Tice showed his player's persona following the botched extra point. In his exuberance, he not only had a tooth knocked loose by jumping headlong with Lance Johnstone, he almost had his trademark pencil jammed into the back of his head. A high five drill may be in order this week.
* VU has been told Derek Ross has had his last snap as a Viking. From what we've been told, things were so bad prior to the game, that Antoine Winfield was asked to test his ailing ankle. When Ross got flagged for pass interference in the final seconds of the game, it was his last straw. Look for Rushen Jones to be re-signed this week and Ross to be home for Christmas.
* From the "third-and-you-kidding?" department comes this: the Vikings converted on plays of third-and-17, 20 and 24 Sunday.
* For much of the second half, the Vikings offensive line consisted of Cory Withrow at center, Adam Goldberg at right at tackle and Nat Dorsey -- replaced by Goldberg at RT -- at left tackle. And they won!
* Daunte Culpepper topped 4,000 yards passing Sunday and is only 131 yards shy of the team record set by Warren Moon in 1994. Moon is the only other Vikings QB to top 4,000 yards -- he did it twice.
* Culpepper also tied the team record for TD passes in a season with 34 -- currently sharing the record with Randall Cunningham in 1998.
* Randy Moss topped 100 yards Sunday, establishing the all-time team record for 100-yard receiving games with 41 -- breaking his tie with Cris Carter.
* As expected, Chris Hovan was inactive again this week. But, expect to see him activated vs. the Packers -- for what that's worth.
* Terrance Shaw spent much of the weekend sicker than a dog and had to get I.V.'s Sunday just to play. But, he made the critical tackle on holder Nick Harris that sealed the Vikings win.
* Many teams prefer to have a backup QB as a holder in the event of a botched snap. Harris, a punter, had a "deer in the headlights" look for a good reason.

Viking Update Top Stories