The Vikings were able to getting cornerback Rushen Jones re-signed this week and jettison oft-burned CB Derek Ross. After two months out of football, Jones could see action tomorrow in the Vikings' biggest game in years. And get more than a dozen other Vikings notes before the Christmas Eve showdown.
When the Vikings reached an injury settlement with CB Rushen Jones
in mid-October, they told him they might need his services again for the stretch run. NFL rules prohibited Jones from re-signing with the Vikings until this week.
With CB Derek Ross
struggling mightily as the dime back the last three weeks, the Vikings released Ross and re-signed Jones.
With Ross gone, CB Ralph Brown
out because of a fractured eye socket and Rhett Nelson
still a raw talent, the Vikings might have to use Jones as the dime back against the Packers on Friday.
Terrence Shaw, who started the last two games because of Antoine Winfield
's high left ankle sprain, returns to nickel back this week. Shaw is battling the flu and might even have pneumonia. If his health worsens, Jones, who hasn't played since early October, might even have to play some in the nickel.
NO MOE STOPPING THE PLOW
The Vikings had the ball on third-and-two at the Lions 11-yard line with the score tied 21-21 and less than two minutes left. The plan was for RB Moe Williams
to run a "40-gut" dive for 3 or 4 yards. With the Lions out of timeouts, the Vikings would then run the clock down to a few seconds and kick the winning field goal. Well, Williams barreled through a hole and ran over free safety Brock Marion
, plowing him into the end zone.
"You can't stop Moe in that situation," RB Michael Bennett
said. "We call him the ‘snowplow man' because it always seems like nothing can stop that dude."
With 97 seconds left and no timeouts, the Lions drove 80 yards for a touchdown with eight seconds left. But a botched snap on the PAT handed the Vikings the victory.
C Matt Birk was stunned when he heard he had made his fourth Pro Bowl. Birk has missed the last four games because of surgery to repair a hernia. A sprained ankle also kept him out of all but the last few plays of the overtime victory at Houston in October. Even when he has played this season, Birk hasn't been himself because of the pain of playing with the hernia.
QB Daunte Culpepper made his third Pro Bowl in the last five seasons. Culpepper needs one touchdown pass and 132 yards passing to break the team season records in those categories. Culpepper was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the fourth time this season.
DT Kevin Williams made it to his first Pro Bowl in just his second season. He has 20.5 sacks in two seasons. He needs one to tie Keith Millard's team record for most sacks in a player's first two seasons.
WR Lane Danielson was signed to the practice squad. A spot opened up when the Lions signed cornerback Mike Echols off of the Vikings' practice squad.
QB Gus Frerotte, who hasn't taken a snap all season, is a free agent after the season. The Vikings will have a hard time re-signing him because he wants to be a starter next season.
RB Onterrio Smith was added to the injury report Wednesday because of the flu.
In 12 games against the Packers, Randy Moss has 64 catches for 1,213 yards (19.0) and 11 touchdowns.
CB Derek Ross, who was horrible as the dime back the past three weeks, was released Tuesday. Against Detroit last week, Ross was burned regularly and also committed two penalties that led to eight points. His holding on a failed two-point conversion attempt enabled the Lions to try again and succeed. Ross also was called for pass interference in the end zone with 17 seconds left. The Lions scored on the next play. "In my heart, I know I'm still a good player," Ross said after the game. "But right now Derek Ross isn't getting the job done. I'm not living up to my expectations, and I have to find a way to get the job done."
In eight games against the Packers, QB Daunte Culpepper is completing 57.1 percent of his passes (149 of 261) for 1,908 yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions for an 86.7 passer rating.
CB Antoine Winfield is bouncing around the locker room this week, anxiously awaiting Friday's game with the Packers, which will decide the NFC North champion. Winfield has missed the last 11 quarters because of a high left ankle sprain. He's listed as probable this week but laughed when told he was even on the injury report. "A game like this?" he said. "I'm playing."
With 51 yards rushing against the Lions last week, RB Michael Bennett moved past Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton into ninth place on the team's career rushing list. Bennett has 2,590 yards. He needs 206 to move past Terry Allen into eighth place.
RB Moe Williams has a distinctly simple running style. He runs as fast as he can as straight as he can until someone big and strong enough is able to stop him. "He runs the ball like I would run the ball, only faster and better," said 275-pound tight end Sean Berton.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I thought maybe the Good Lord was looking out for us above." -- CB Brian Williams, when asked what he thought when Lions long-snapper Don Muhlbach botched the extra-point snap with eight seconds left in the Vikings' 28-27 victory at Ford Field.