Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


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NFL won't let you go, even when you don't care

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: December 8, 2013 - 10:29 PM

Baltmore returned to the NFL with the Ravens in 1996. The Vikings have now made four trips to America's second-best eating town (behind New Orleans) and all have been eventful.

The Ravens were in the new stadium that lured Art Modell away from Cleveland for a first season in 1998. The Vikings brought Brian Billick's record-setting offense into the city where Billick would later win a Super Bowl with a mighty defense.

Randall Cunningham threw for 345 yards, Cris Carter had 11 catches and the Vikings won 38-28. There were three kick returns for touchdowns: one for 88 yards by the Vikings' David Palmer, and two by Ravens that covered 95 and 97 yards.

The Vikings were back to end the 2001 season, and it was eventful because Dennis Green had been fired earlier in the week. Mike Tice was coaching as the interim, and sent out the redoubtable Spergon Wynn as his quarterback.

Even then, I recall a few of us media types talking with Tice in the hotel lobby the night before the game. Tice's jauntiness said he expected to get the job as Green's replacement.

Wynn passed for 86 yards and the Vikings lost 19-3 to finish the season at 5-11. And a week later, owner Red McCombs did give the job -- to rebuild on a tight budget -- to Tice.

When the Vikings returned in 2005, Tice had managed to turn a budding disaster of a season into a playoff push. They went through the Love Boat scandal, and Tice's ticket scalping mess, and were 2-5 after Daunte Culpepper blew out a knee in a blowout loss at Carolina.

Brad Johnson took over at quarterback and the Vikings won six in a row, before losing to Pittsburgh in the Metrodome. One week later, the Vikings had a Christmas night game in Baltimore.

I have two clear memories: A couple of hours before the game, a few Twin Cities reporters were in a mostly empty press box and a guy I know said, "That nickname, Ravens ... I think it has something to do with literature. I'm going to check on that.''

I also recall the Vikings' defense making Kyle Boller look like an NFL quarterback for one of the few times in his career. Boller went 24 for 34 for 289 yards in a 30-23 victory.

The loss eliminated the Vikings from the playoffs. A week later, the Vikings closed with a win over the Bears, and 20 minutes later, Tice was fired by Zygi Wilf.

None of the previous trips to play the Ravens will live in the infamy as will Sunday's affair. It started with two teams slogging in a snowstorm, and wound up with a shootout that wouldn't have been believable if it had been dramatized on what ... Friday Night Lights?

At 11:55 a.m. on Sunday, I couldn't have had less interest if it was five minutes to the start of the MLS title game. Still, I turned it on for a peek, and it was snowing, which made things intriguing for a few minutes.

That got old quick, and I made a couple of stops, and came into the Strib office. Time passed and there there were a couple of minutes left, and the Vikings were going to win. And then they were going to lose. And then they were going to win on Toby Gerhart's 41-yard rumble, and then they were going to lose on Jacoby Jones' 77-yard kickoff return, and then they were going to win on Cordarelle Patterson's 79-yard streak across the turf after a flip of a pass from Matt Cassel, and then they lost 29-26 on Marlon Brown's acrobatic catch in the back of the end zone with four seconds left.

Baltimore 7-6 going into the fourth. Vikings 12-7 after Jerome Simpson's TD catch in the first minute of the fourth.

And it stays that way, and it stays that way, until the Vikings and the Ravens exchange 36 points in the final 124 seconds.

That's the magical pull of the NFL: It has a product that can turn indifference into fascination in an instant.

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Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 102 FINAL
New York 91
Oklahoma City 114 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Cleveland 91 FINAL
Miami 101
LA Lakers 93 FINAL
Chicago 113
Golden State 86 FINAL
LA Clippers 100
DePaul 69 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 72
Ohio 58 FINAL
Nebraska 71
Colorado 66 FINAL
Hawaii 69
George Washington 60 FINAL
Wichita State 54
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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