Brien Almost Sure to Be Gone

After surviving a kicking ordeal not of his own doing -- the choices were worse than him -- VU has been told that it is almost certain Doug Brien is gone today and a familiar face will be back. The only question now is who else packs up.

Mike Tice doesn't mince words. He didn't when he explained how much he lamented getting rid of Gary Anderson. The only explanation he could give to justify a move that he didn't want to do is that Anderson would cost the young Vikings two roster spots they could ill-afford to lose.

As Tice left the Metrodome Sunday, that mood had changed. The only knock against Anderson was his kickoffs. He simply doesn't have the leg strength to put balls into the end zone of kickoffs. With punter Mitch Berger able to do that, Anderson survived and thrived -- setting records for points in a season and points in a career.

To put Sunday's game into perspective, in four years with the Vikings, Anderson attempted 180 extra points. He missed one. Sunday, Doug Brien missed two in consecutive attempts.

To further elaborate, in 13 years -- once again, 13 years -- Anderson missed three extra points. Brien missed two on Sunday.

So it came as no surprise when VU was told Sunday that the likelihood of Brien being with the Vikings next Sunday vs. Carolina is remote or none -- about the same odds of a kicker missing two extra points in a row.

However, there are two problems that the Vikings will face. As a vested veteran, Brien's salary will count fully against the Vikings salary cap, which, while not a huge problem since the Vikes are in good shape in that respect, it is what is now seen as a waste of money.

The second problem is that, if the Vikings sign Anderson, they will likely have to bring in a kickoff specialist. That was the reason Anderson was cut in the first place -- the team didn't want to burn four positions on special teams specialists -- a kicker, punter, kickoff specialist and long snapper. Now, after a loss that leaves the Vikings with an 0-2 record in two games in which they led after 59 minutes, somebody has to go.

It will be Brien.

After the game, Brien struggled for comment, telling VU that high school kickers are expected to make extra points. Prior to Sunday, Brien had missed just three extra points in 230 attempts. That would change and create problems the Vikings never envisioned.

When he missed his first PAT with 1:30 to play in the third quarter, the Vikings would have led by four points. His second miss left the Vikings ahead by just two instead of three. The final straw came as the Vikings scored the apparent game-winning TD with less than 30 seconds to play. His job was to hammer a squib kick that would try to pin the Bills deep. Instead, the kick was fielded on the 20-yard line and the Bills were given a chance to get into position to tie. Buffalo's kicker Mike Hollis bounced a 54-yard field goal off the crossbar and in to send the game to overtime.

In his postgame press conference, Tice consistently made references to the failure of the kicking game -- from the two missed extra points to the botched final kickoff to a field goal that hit the upright after the offense put the team in a position to take a halftime lead to misreading a kick return that allowed the Bills to return a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.

At this point, the big question is whether the team is willing to use two roster spots to bring Anderson back. From what team sources have told VU late Sunday, that looks like the best bet. However, the only thing that seems certain is that Doug Brien had better show up to Winter Park this morning with enough boxes to clean out his locker.

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