'We weren't supposed to lose'
Upset loss to Falcons not on Vikings' minds this week
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- Gary Anderson slept little that night, replaying the 38-yard field goal attempt that kept veering wide left.
Cris Carter finally let the game go by the time he arrived at the Pro Bowl, a few weeks later.
"We were shocked that we lost," said linebacker Eddie McDaniel. "We weren't supposed to lose a game like that."
But the Vikings say two years has been plenty of time to ease the memory of that 30-27 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, perhaps the most stinging defeat in franchise history. There is little talk of redemption from them going into NFC title game Sunday against the New York Giants.
"It's nice to write a story about or to draw comparisons," Carter said. "But that game doesn't mean much. You have so many new people. It's totally different."
The Vikings, who set an NFL scoring record while going 15-1 during the 1998 regular season, could manage only seven points during the second half and the overtime. They still had a chance to win in regulation, despite giving away a 20-7 lead, but Anderson missed his first kick of any kind that season.
Anderson, the NFL's leading career scorer, was nearly perfect again this season. He has made 24 of 25 field goals this season, his only miss coming on a 52-yard attempt that was blocked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But he said he is paying no attention to the similarities of the '98 and '00 seasons. He thinks about the missed field goal against the Falcons only when asked, if even then.
"I don't give that any thought at all," Anderson said.
That's an organizational attitude that comes from the highest sources.
"We're not big on looking back," head coach Dennis Green said. "We probably have 22-23 guys left from that team. Of those 23 guys, 12 were hurt going into or during the game. That leaves 11 guys that had something to do with that ballgame."
Offensive tackle Korey Stringer, one of 12 current Vikings who started in the '98 championship game, said thoughts of it are counterproductive.
"Winning this season won't change the fact that we lost in '98," Stringer said. "I can't change that. It doesn't make any sense to try. It is what it is. I'd rather concentrate my energy on the present."
The present includes players such as second-year quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who was worrying about the NFL draft the day the Vikings lost to the Falcons.
"Those guys weren't even thinking they'd ever be in Minnesota," Stringer said. "If they see the rest of us getting mad about '98, they're just wondering what we're getting mad about."