Last time the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings faced off, it was in the 2009 divisional playoff round, and Minnesota beat the daylights out of America's Team in an absolutely dominant 34-3 home win. Minnesota sacked Tony Romo(notes) at will, and Romo looked more like a rookie than perhaps he ever had. The rematch this Sunday pits two teams on the other end of the success curve than last season -- both are 1-3, and the team that loses will have some major soul-searching to do.
That said, the preamble to the game itself has seen a lot of woofing from both sides. First, there was the ongoing bitterness of Randy Moss(notes), the newest Viking, towards the Cowboys franchise he felt should have drafted him in 1998. Jerry Jones and his staff took defensive end Greg Ellis(notes) instead, and while Ellis has enjoyed a distinguished career, it's safe to say that Jones would probably like a do-over -- especially after sending Moss to Deion Sanders' house for a pre-draft visit. However, it seems as if the more mature version of Randy Moss has resolved those formerly venomous feelings.
"I always forgive, man, that's in the Bible," Moss told the media this week after Jones jokingly apologized for the draft gaffe. "I always forgive but I never forget." Moss has caught 34 passes for 734 yards and 11 touchdowns in his seven previous games against Dallas, so that Cowboys secondary had best be aware. Moss' current quarterback knows a thing about carrying grudges onto the field.
In that divisional loss last season, Dallas linebacker Keith Brooking(notes) was unhappy that the Vikings seemed to be running up the score, especially with the touchdown pass from Brett Favre(notes) to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe(notes) with 1:55 left in the game. But given the fact that 31 points is not actually an insurmountable advantage (just ask Frank Reich and Joe Montana), I think Brooking was out of line. You take your butt-kickings like a man, and you move on. Minnesota defensive tackle Pat Williams(notes) seems to agree. This from the Minneapolis Star Tribune (via the Dallas Morning News):
"We don't care what Brooking says. [...] If he's still talking about last year that's his bad because last year is last year and we ain't worried about. If he wants to cry like a little baby, he'll cry like a little baby but we aren't worried about what he's saying."
All right, then! Vikings head coach Brad Childress also weighed on this subject. "If you're slamming people at the formation nothing says that you have to go in there and have everybody shorten their necks so they stop us," Childress said during a media session this week. "Now we have to make a decision, 'Do we have to kick a field goal?' The easiest thing is to get a first down. That's all we're trying to do is get a first down. We happened to score. It would probably be a good idea to cover the guy. Generally on defense you have to cover the deep plays."
That's the background for this Sunday afternoon's firefight at the Metrodome. Two teams that are not in love with each other, playing to save their seasons. This should be a snot-knocker, kids.
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