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  Wednesday October 22nd, 2014    

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Champions decided by gaffes (01/25/2012)
By John Edstrom


     
...and a trip down the memory lane/goat pasture of Vikings

blown Super Bowl chances

Well fans, who else out there thinks itís lots of fun to watch tough defensive teams slug it out for four quarters, instead of an aerial shootout like the one between the Saints and the 49ers, with the winner likely determined by last possession. There are two sides to the line of scrimmage, and I think that the efforts and rule-jimmying made recently to add fireworks to the game have also dumbed it down a great deal. It is almost as if the defensive players are forced to wear weighted uniforms. Think about the early days of the game and for every Bart Starr there is a Ray Nitschke.

In fact, last Sundayís contestants were so evenly matched, and offenses so effectively handcuffed, that the winners were decided not by heroic plays so much as blunders by an assortment of goats. San Francisco would be going to the Super Bowl were it not for their return man, Kyle Williams, who allowed one punt to glance off his knee, and then fumbled a kick return in overtime to set up the winning Giantsí field goal. And Baltimore would have taken the Patriots to overtime if Billy Cundiff had not inexplicably missed the chip shot 30 yard field goal.

This naturally leads one down the sad and squalid memory lane of missed Vikings playoff opportunities, which would start with Gary Andersonís muffed 38 yard field goal resulting in the loss to Atlanta back in 1999. Fans of the Purple will remember that until that game, Andersonís season was perfect Ė no missed PATs or field goals. To crown the ignominy of the day, Dennis Green instructed Randall Cunningham, QB of the highest powered offense in the league, with Randy Moss as his prime target, to take a knee with time left in regulation. The rest of this page in Vikings history is blurred with tear stains.

Of course, the greatest goat ever to gnaw tin cans while wearing the Purple would be Nate Wright, who gave up the last minute touchdown pass to the Cowboyís Drew Pearson, denying what Bud Grant thought was his best team ever its trip to the Super Bowl. Fans screamed in vain that Pearson had pushed off, but referee Armen Terzian failed to call the penalty and was promptly cold-cocked by an empty brandy bottle which flew from the stands with deadly accuracy. Small consolation.

Then there was Disco Darrin Nelsonís drop down on the goal line in the last seconds of the 1987 NFC championship game for the loss to the Redskins. Astute fans will remember he was picked ahead of the all-time great Oakland running back Marcus Allen.

But of course, the greatest playoff goat in Vikings history remains nameless to this day, the twelfth man on the field to incur the penalty which took the Vikes out of range of the winning field goal down in New Orleans back in 2010. His teammates have refused to rat him out, proving there is honor among thieves and losers.  

 

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