Is Luck Finally With The Vikings?
Mike Tice
Mike Tice

Posted Dec 24, 2004


For the previous 23 games, it appeared Murphy’s Law applied to the Vikings, and we’re not talking about former punter Nick Murphy. Whenever anything bad could happen, it seemed it happened to the Vikings. But, after getting a couple of good bounces Sunday, now the Vikings are now wondering if luck is finally on their side. We’ll soon find out.

Eight seconds remained when the Lions scored a touchdown to close within an extra point of the Vikings, 28-27, Sunday at Ford Field.

But something happened when everyone was looking away, assuming the PAT would be made.

Long snapper Don Muhlbach basically dribbled the snap back to holder Nick Harris, who had saved Muhlbach’s behind on an earlier snap.

Harris couldn’t save it a second time. He tried to pick up the ball and make a pass but was tackled by cornerback Terrance Shaw.

For the split second between the time the snap was botched and Shaw made the tackle, every person who follows the Vikings thought the same thing: Harris is going to scramble and throw for a two-point conversion and the Vikings are going to lose.

It would have followed the script of nearly every game since at least midway through the Vikings’ 2003 season.

The Vikings were 6-0 in 2003 when they played the Giants at the Metrodome. The Vikings blocked a punt deep in Giants territory during a critical point in the game.

Did the Vikings recover the punt, score and take control of the game? No. The Giants recovered and went on to win easily, jumpstarting the Vikings’ 3-7 season-ending slide.

"That kind of snowballed our season," coach Mike Tice said this week. "It put a black cloud over our team for a number of weeks and gave us the anxiety of something was going wrong that was like, ‘Here we go again.’ "

The Vikings missed the playoffs last season on a controversial last-second touchdown pass at Arizona.

This season, injuries mounted early and often.

A last-second field goal beat the Vikings at Indianapolis and Green Bay a week later. The Packers’ game-winning drive came after replays appeared to show then-Viking Derek Ross recover a fumbled kickoff return that officials gave to Packers TE Ben Steele once the pile was sorted through.

The Vikings’ luck began to change on the game-winning drive against the Lions. Michael Bennett fumbled in the red zone but then recovered the ball.

Then the Vikings actually got lucky when Muhlbach botched the snap.

"It feels really good to be on the good side of a break," Tice said. "Guys were really talking about that in the locker room. It just shows you the significance of a bounce going your way, where guys in the locker room were really talking about, ‘This is it. From here on out, we have all the luck.’ How they figured that out I have no idea. But it feels good to get a bounce."

After experiencing their share of bad bounces, Vikings players weren’t going to apologize for the way the Lions game ended.

"Sometimes," quarterback Daunte Culpepper said, "it’s better to be lucky than good."



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DB Terrance Shaw (profile)
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