You could cut the dejection with a knife following the Vikings' 34-31 loss to the Packers Friday. It was their third loss in the final seconds by a field goal -- the second time this year to the Packers -- and, for a second straight year, a loss that handed the Packers a division title.
As usual, Brett Favre was masterful in the fourth quarter -- taking advantage of the Vikings' underpowered defense and leading the team on two scoring drives in the final eight minutes.
With the prospect of a home playoff game and a matchup with the Falcons with a victory, the Vikings now face the daunting prospect of going on the road to win in the playoffs.
While not technically in the playoffs, the Vikings will get in if the Panthers or Rams lose either of their remaining games or, if they should both win out, the Seahawks lose their final two games.
It's nowhere close to what the Vikings had planned just 24 hours ago, but now it must do -- like getting a lot of socks and underwear for Christmas.
* Coach Mike Tice, who would have assured that Red McCombs kick in the option year on his contract, took the loss hard, saying, "It rips out part of your insides that doesn't grow back."
* For his part, McCombs declined to answer multiple reporter questions about the contract status of Tice. He has until New Year's Day -- prior to the Redskins game -- to make his decision.
* Tice was especially upset by a call made at the end of the first half. A local Twin Cities columnist spoke with retired official Mike Pereira, but apparently neither of them were paying attention. Pereira, defending his fellow referee's decision to grant Brett Favre a time out for a measurement, told the octogenerian reporter that Favre still had time to spike the ball and get the field goal team on the field. The problem was that it was fourth down and Favre couldn't have spiked the ball. Tice was livid at the time and following the game -- questioning what measuring the ball would have benefited? Savvy call by Favre -- just another reason why Favre is a Hall of Famer.
* The Packers at the very least tied an NFL record in the second quarter and it seems almost impossible that they didn't set a record (but we're not STATS Inc., so we can't say that with impunity). The Vikings had just four plays the entire quarter -- an incompletion to Randy Moss and three touchdown passes from Daunte Culpepper. The result? The Packers didn't have a single defensive tackle for the entire quarter.
* Since a 1-4 start, the Packers are 8-2 in their last 10 games. Meanwhile, after a 5-1 start, the Vikings a 3-6 since.
* The Vikings offense scored just three points in the second half -- unlike some reports that the Vikings offense scored 31 points, seven came on the Chris Claiborne interception return for a touchdown. It was the third time in the last four games -- all three losses -- that the Vikes have three or less points in the second half on offense.
* Lost in the sadness of the loss, Culpepper set a number of team records. He has 37 touchdown passes, breaking the mark of 34 set in 1998 by Randall Cunningham. His 151.3 passer rating Friday was a career high. And his 4,418 yards breaks a 10-year-old record of 4,264 set by Warren Moon in 1994.
* Randy Moss also had his name move up in the record books. With 30 yards Friday, he has 9,076 yards receiving -- breaking a record held by Jerry Rice (9,074) for most yards through the first seven years of a career. He also scored his 89th touchdown, moving him past Don Maynard into eighth place on the all-time receiving TD list. The score gave him 546 points for his career, passing Gary Anderson into fourth place on the Vikings all-time scoring list.
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