1998 Revisited

Sunday's game with Atlanta will be the first time the Falcons come back to the Metrodome since the 1998 NFC Championship Game. Yet, it isn't a huge rivalry for many of the players since they weren't there at the time.

For Vikings fans, it was probably the most heart-breaking defeat in team history. To the rest of the country that didn't have a vested interest in the game, it was one of the greatest championship games of all time when the Falcons beat the Vikings 30-27 in overtime to end the magical 15-1 Vikings 1998 season.

However, when the teams meet at the Metrodome Sunday, it won't be a grudge match or a revenge contest. Why? So few players remain from those teams. For the Vikings, only Randy Moss and David Dixon are still starters and only six players on the Falcons roster were in that game. In fact, the Vikings have more players on their roster -- Ronnie Bradford, Henri Crockett and Chuck Wiley -- who have played for Atlanta than started in the 1998 championship game.

Both teams have undergone major overhauls since then and the teams that will meet Sunday will have little in common with those that met in 1998. Getting the fan to forget, however, will be a little more difficult.

* Michael Bennett was upgraded to probable for Sunday's game with a sprained ankle, but the team is preparing for him to play a part-time role because, with the hard Metrodome turf, the ankle could flare up at any time.
* Three players are listed as questionable for the Vikings -- Bradford (toe), WR Cedric James (ankle) and WR Kelly Campbell.
* For the Falcons, three players are listed as doubtful -- DE Travis Hall (foot), LB John Holocek (broken bone in arm) and CB Kevin Mathis (hamstring) -- and four others are listed as probable -- WR Brian Finneran (ankle), LB Artie Ulmer (neck), LB Mark Simoneau (ankle) and OT Travis Claridge (neck).
* As usual, a Twin Cities newspaper has opted to take the stupid route and ask a poll question of whether the Vikings should trade Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper or both. Fortunately, the fans haven't jumped on their "sky is falling" bandwagon. 73 percent said keep them both.
* The Falcons are 6-0-1 in their last seven games and could be doing even better if Jay Feely hadn't missed a field goal vs. Chicago that allowed the Bears to win in overtime. After that win, the Bears lost eight straight.

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