Old Home Week

Typically a non-conference game against an opponent the Vikings see just once every four years would have little meaning. But tonight's game with the Ravens runs a little deeper than that.

The Vikings have built up something of a history with the Ravens, even though at first glance there would be little to make anyone think a Vikings-Ravens game would be termed a rivalry.

For starters, there is Brian Billick. The Ravens head coach was a former offensive coordinator with the Vikings who, thanks to a record-breaking 1998 season, became the Ravens head coach in 1999 and won a Super Bowl in 2001.

Then there's Travis Taylor. A former first-round pick drafted in the same year as the Ravens took Jamal Lewis, Taylor never lived up to the lofty expectations Ravens fans had of him and, when he became a free agent, Baltimore made little effort to re-sign him. Last year, in his first meeting vs. his former team, he caught three passes for 40 yards and a touchdown.

Then there's Chester Taylor. In the offseason, the Ravens were posed with a dilemma -- re-sign Jamal Lewis or Taylor and let the other one go via free agency. The Ravens responded by choosing Lewis and letting Taylor go away. There is likely some animosity there, so look for Chet to run up some yards on his former mates and have a little extra incentive for a good night.

Then there's the 2005 Week 16 game that ruined the Vikings' miraculous comeback. After winning six straight games, the Vikings' playoff hopes were hanging by a thread after a Week 15 loss to the Steelers. The Ravens were going to be the last chance for the Vikings to keep their playoff hopes alive. A 30-23 loss to Baltimore effectively ended the Vikings' hopes of a playoff run.

If those four weren't enough, there's always the trump card. The Ravens were the team that humiliated the Vikings on draft day 2003, when a botched trade attempt to let the Ravens move up to No. 7 in the draft and take QB Byron Leftwich went horribly wrong. The Ravens stayed at No. 10 when they couldn't get their half of the trade done on time with league officials and the Vikings wound up with egg on their faces as the Jaguars and Panthers jumped in front of them to select players. The Ravens were never blamed externally for the trade falling through, but there's plenty of bitterness that remains over that deal.

So who says preseason games mean nothing? This one has all the makings of a grudge match -- even if the result won't be remembered.

* As of Friday morning, about 200 tickets remained for the game.
* The Ravens will be the second straight team that runs a lot of 3-4 defensive formations, although the Ravens have spent a lot of the last couple of years reverting to a 4-3 alignment.
* Chad Greenway had successful knee surgery Thursday and is recuperating in Birmingham, Ala. where Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery.
* The Vikings need to cut their roster down to 75 players by Tuesday.
* Mike Anderson is going to start in place of Lewis, who has been shut down for the final two preseason games with a hip injury.
* Daunte Culpepper returned to the scene of the crime Thursday when he played for the Dolphins in Carolina, where he suffered his devastating knee injury. While the first-team Dolphins offense didn't tear things up, the offense looked eerily similar to the type of plays Culpepper ran as the Vikings' starting quarterback.

Viking Update Top Stories