Final

Vikings 18

(8-8, 3-5 away)

Redskins 21

(6-10, 3-5 home)

1:00 PM ET, January 2, 2005

 

1 2 3 4 T
MIN 0 3 7 818
WSH 7 7 0 721

Vikings come up lame, get help from Saints

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- Once again, the Minnesota Vikings collapsed under the weight of late-season pressure.

How, then, will they be able to handle postseason pressure?

They'll get a chance to find out. The Vikings qualified for the playoffs Sunday despite a .500 record and a second straight December swoon. With a chance to secure a berth on their own, they played an uptight 21-18 loss to the Washington Redskins and clinched their spot only because New Orleans beat Carolina.

"This team's going to drive me crazy," said coach Mike Tice, in the playoffs for the first time since taking over from Dennis Green during the 2001 season.

"You spend the whole week trying to make sure they understand that you don't want to get yourself too worked up or too uptight, and you don't want to go out and play like you can't make a mistake. When you play like that, you go out and make mistakes."

And mistakes there were, enough to make any coach cringe. Randy Moss killed a first-half drive with a false-start penalty on third-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Nate Burleson dropped a sure touchdown pass deep over the middle in the fourth quarter. Moss had a juggling long touchdown pass in the second half negated by a holding penalty on right tackle Adam Goldberg.

The Vikings finished 8-8, losing seven of their last 10 after a 5-1 start. Last year, they fell from 6-0 to 9-7 and were eliminated by a touchdown pass on the last play of the season in an 18-17 loss to Arizona. Tice jokingly referred to himself as "Coach Collapse" last week in an effort to lighten the mood. Now he has to come up with a new ploy for next weekend's playoff game at Green Bay.

"Most people say we backed into the playoffs. Yeah, that's true," Tice said. "Fortunately, we start off the same with 0-0. Unfortunately, we certainly don't come into this thing with any tremendous rhythm."

As Tice spoke, the lights went out in the news conference room for a few seconds.

"Believe me, that's how our whole season's gone," he said.

The Redskins (6-10) rallied to give a spirited finishing performance to Joe Gibbs' disappointing comeback season, his worst in 13 years with the Redskins. The Hall of Fame coach plans to keep working nonstop to restore his legacy.

"I'm anxious to get started. The offseason will be a big time for us. I think it will be one of the most important six months of my coaching career, trying to help ourselves every way we can," Gibbs said. "I think the most important thing is that our guys went and finished strong. I think they made a commitment there with nothing on the line but pride."

Patrick Ramsey completed 17 of 26 passes for 216 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and Ladell Betts ran 26 times for a career-high 118 yards subbing for injured back Clinton Portis. The Redskins scored more than two touchdowns for only the second time all season.

"Maybe they didn't think we had anything to play for," defensive end Renaldo Wynn said. "They don't know this team."

The defense rattled Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper with four sacks and several times forced him to throw the ball away. Culpepper completed 27 of 44 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. His last pass was a 38-yard desperation touchdown to Marcus Robinson with 2 seconds remaining.

The Vikings failed to recover the subsequent onside kick, then went to the locker room and waited for the Saints to finish off a 21-18 win. They spoke of getting revenge on the Packers, who beat Minnesota twice this season on a late-second field goals.

"Nobody has won the Super Bowl at 8-8," Culpepper said. "But my whole life I have been defining history, so it ain't no thing for me to do it again."

Moss caught just five passes for 66 yards, including an acrobatic 28-yard touchdown pass over safety Sean Taylor that cut the Redskins' lead to 14-10 late in the third quarter.

The Vikings' offensive troubles were startling, considering they were playing a depleted Redskins defense. Fred Smoot didn't play because of a bruised kidney, and Shawn Springs missed part of the third quarter after falling ill at halftime.

The loss would have been uglier were it not for defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who had two sacks and created two turnovers inside Minnesota's 25-yard line. Williams intercepted a pass in the first half and stripped the ball from Ramsey in the second.

Yet, the Vikings are playoff-bound.

"It is mixed emotions," Burleson said. "The best emotion is excitement. Any team would be happy to get into the playoffs."

Game notes


Vikings strong safety Corey Chavous' status for the playoffs is in doubt after he broke his left elbow on a running play. Minnesota receiver Kelly Campbell sprained his right shoulder. ... The Redskins committed three penalties for a season-low 13 yards. They fell 55 yards short of breaking the franchise record of 1,110 set in 1948.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Scoring Summary

THIRD QUARTERMINWSH
minTD6:00Touchdown
Drive info: 5 plays, 61 yds, 2:30
914
FOURTH QUARTERMINWSH
wshTD10:48Ladell Betts, 1 yd run
Drive info: 5 plays, 71 yds, 2:23
1020
THIRD QUARTERMINWSH
min6:00
Drive info: 5 plays, 61 yds, 2:30
1014
FOURTH QUARTERMINWSH
wsh10:48
Drive info: 5 plays, 71 yds, 2:23
1021
FIRST QUARTERMINWSH
wshTD10:53Touchdown
Drive info: 8 plays, 31 yds, 3:57
06
wsh10:53
Drive info: 8 plays, 31 yds, 3:57
07
FOURTH QUARTERMINWSH
minTD0:13Touchdown
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yds, 1:45
1621
SECOND QUARTERMINWSH
wshTD1:30Touchdown(Daunte Culpepper pass to Onterrio Smith for 2pt conversion)
Drive info: 11 plays, 65 yds, 5:42
1821
SECOND QUARTERMINWSH
wsh1:30
Drive info: 11 plays, 65 yds, 5:42
314
minFG11:36Morten Andersen 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 14 plays, 67 yds, 7:28
37