Figures may not lie, but they don't leave Vikings celebrating Despite the big numbers, Minnesota operates under different set of standards

December 14, 1998|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Relativity reared its ugly head yesterday and the Minnesota Vikings' Brian Billick winced in afterthought.

Relativity is rolling up 420 yards of total offense and feeling like the best real estate in Camden Yards went uncovered.

Relativity is producing 38 points and wanting one more crack in the red zone.

Relativity is beating the Ravens in an absolutely frightful affair, 38-28, and hoping this is the worst it gets this season.

"It's a benchmark we've got to feel good about," said Billick, the Vikings' offensive coordinator. "With two games to go, we've set a mark where we don't feel good about 38 points and 420 yards.

"[But] as bad as I feel, I probably don't feel as bad as Denver right now. As bad as I feel, I still feel better than the Giants, although that was a pretty good win for them today."

On a day when the New York Giants shocked the perfection out of Denver, the Vikings matched the Broncos' 13-1 record, closed in on home-field advantage in the NFC, and looked mortal doing it.

Gary Anderson set an NFL record by running his consecutive field goal streak to 34 on a sloppy track. Randall Cunningham completed 32 of 55 passes for 345 yards, two touchdowns and one interception -- and should have had at least two more picked off. Randy Moss set an NFL record for receiving yardage as a rookie (1,209), but iron-handed two perfect passes he should have had.

"I can't remember the last time he flat-out dropped a ball," Billick said in utter amazement.

Said Moss: "If I was perfect, I'd be on a cloud with God. Everybody drops the ball sometimes. I was a little down on it. I might have dropped four or five passes, and that's not my style of play."

The Vikings' style of play is overkill: big yardage totals, bigger scores.

As for this 420-yard effort, the Vikings have had six games in which they gained more yards. Yesterday, they got inside the Ravens' 20 five times and came away with just two touchdowns.

Choosing his words carefully, Billick finally made this concession about his offense: "It probably was the worst game we've played this year."

Relatively speaking, of course.

This game was so out of whack that the Vikings eschewed a 46-yard field-goal try at the end of the half with a 25-14 lead. This was shortly after Anderson had just hit his record 32nd field goal in a row. At the Ravens' 29 with two seconds left, coach Dennis Green let Cunningham have one more shot at the end zone instead of bringing on Anderson.

"It was too far in the conditions," Green said. "We try to use good judgment. He can kick a 48-yard field goal. There wasn't a lot of momentum swinging for us that way."

Cunningham was sacked on the final play of the half. On the Vikings' first series of the second half, Anderson hit the 46-yarder that Green passed on earlier.

Mindful of his record, Anderson, 39, was just as happy to pass on the treacherous footing he compared unfavorably to San Francisco's 3Com Park.

"There were several kicks out there today I'd just as soon not been out there for," said Anderson, who nevertheless kicked six field goals.

This game was so out of whack that the Vikings ran 23 offensive plays before the Ravens had run two. They had run 56 plays in the first half, a staggering 91 for the game. They more than doubled the Ravens' time of possession.

"Unbelievable," Billick said.

"I'm sitting here with 420 yards and 38 points, and I don't feel like we played real sharp."

For now, he can live with relativity.

It's up and good

Gary Anderson set an NFL record for consecutive field goals (( yesterday when he connected on six attempts to stretch his streak to 34. The record-breaker was a 24-yarder with 5: 17 left in the first half:

No. Player, Team ......... Year(s)

34 Gary Anderson, Min. ... 1997-98

31 Fuad Reveiz, Min. ..... 1994-95

29 John Carney, S.D. ..... 1992-93

28 Chris Boniol, Dal. .... 1996

28 Chris Boniol, Phi. .... 1997

Pub Date: 12/14/98

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