*P.A." has called Vikings games for KFAN since 2002. Here he shares some of his non-obvious, behind-the-scenes memories. Check back frequently for another "Story from the Skol."
Sunday our classic Vikings game on FM 100.3 KFAN is the 2004 season playoff win at Lambeau Field. You can listen to the game, too, at kfan.com/listen. This win was not a shocker, but the Vikes were six-point underdogs and lost to Green Bay twice that season, both times coming on Ryan Longwell walk-off winners and the scores both games were, 34-31. Two fat "UGHS" before the term "UGH" was even a thing.
The 2004 season was Mike Tice's third as head coach, and he had yet to make the playoffs. In 2002 they were scrappy, 2003 6-and-0 to start, and it all fell apart late. Very late, as in the last play of the season.
Into the '04 they drafted USC DE Kenechi Udeze in the first round, and he would have a truncated, nondescript run with the Purple, sadly shortened when he was diagnosed with "rare leukemia," which he beat but no longer was able to play football. Kenechi now coaches linebackers for Vanderbilt. Their most productive, longer-term pick that year was TE Jeff Dugan out of Maryland, selected in the seventh round.
The most significant move into 2004 was winning a free-agency battle with the Jets for Antoine Winfield, a diminutive corner who came into the league with Buffalo. Legit, he was set to sign with the Jets but something changed his mind and he ended up here. Winfield went on to become not only the best-tackling CB in Vikings history but absolutely one of the best at his position in the history of the team.
The season was a patented Tice team -- they scored a bunch, went on winning and losing streaks and had a touch of wild child to them. Started the season 5-and-1, lost three consecutive, won two in a row, lost two more then won at Ford Field in an incredibly exciting game. Joey Harrington hit Roy Williams with eight seconds remaining making it, 28-27, Vikings. After that rookie long snapper Don Muhlbach, who still is Detroit's LS by the way, dribbled back the extra point try for K Jason Hanson to bang through, and Winfield -- I LOVE ANTOINE WINFIELD -- blew up holder Nick Harris, and that's the ball game. Wow.
That spine tingler in the Motor City elevated the team to 8-and-6, but the next week was awful. It was an afternoon game at Metrodome against Green Bay, and the Vikings lost when Longwell connected on a 29-yard FG as time expired. Sure, it was terrible getting swept by a very average Green Bay team, but this loss occurred on Christmas Eve, so now around 7 pm we all head home to festive dwellings with friends and family looking to spread Christmas cheer.
BAH FREAKING HUM BUG!
The next week at Landover and Fed Ex Field a Vikings win got them into the playoffs but, of course, they lost, and shortly before the game ended Randy Moss walked off the field to the locker room, and there was consternation abound. Of course you never leave your teammates before the game is over, but HOF Moss "played when he wanted to play" and, obviously, stayed on the sideline when he wanted to stay on the sideline.
So now watching from the locker room the Vikings needed the New Orleans Saints to hold off the on-charging Carolina Panthers to back in to the playoffs. Panthers K John Kasay tried a 60-yard FG to send the game to OT, and it was blocked by Tony Bryant, and -- beep, beep, beep -- the Vikings backed in, er, made the playoffs. Off to Lambeau.
Appleton was sleepy when we arrived Saturday, January 8, 2005 for a wildcard playoff game against Brett Favre. Normally the team hotel lobby is bustling with Vikings fans, but not many were there. Nary a Packers fan lining W. College Avenue as we navigated the rural town, and not even one "shooting us the moon," which was commonplace those days when heading to the hotel or stadium.
BAD NEWS: No safety Corey Chavous this game due to an arm injury sustained in the season finale at Landover. Fourth in tackles, had a pick and absolutely considered with Winfield and Brian Russell the mental heart and soul of the defense.
TONE SETTER: LB Chris Claiborne came with a middle blitz first third down of the game and down went THE GREAT Brett Favre, thumped squarely and fairly. Brett was skittish the rest of the contest and threw four interceptions. Guess who grabbed one? I LOVE ANTOINE WINFIELD!
GO, MOE GO! Daunte, who finished with four TD and zero picks, became a legit run-pass option, dumped to RB Moe Williams, and the crafty veteran rolled 68 yards for a 7-0 lead. The Vikings never would trail from here.
THE PACKERS: Green Bay's secondary really was having tackling problems the last 1 1/2 months, and one of the many reasons I was so upset we got swept by them is because the Linehan-called offense was doing so much damage to those guys. This was a game it was much of the same, only this time the worm turned.
SHOT THE MOON: Yep, Randy Moss scoring, mock mooning the crowd, and TV Vox Joe Buck uttering something like "that's a disgusting act by Randy Moss." Right before that proclamation The Analyst said "Moss is shooting the fans the moon."
Despite the adroit call by The Analyst, did Buck think Moss was displaying a fake act of pulling down his pants, pooping on Football Americana then fake wiping his butt on the goal post? No idea, but I always have respected Joe's work, despite this finger-wagging LOL moment.
To grab that TD, by the way, Moss put a swift double move on respected and scrappy corner Al Harris, and what truly amazed me was Randy had been battling a pretty significant ankle sprain into that game. To sell it and make that cut is all about H.O.F. fortitude.
A.F.R.O.S.: Never will forget the bit; it was fantastic. Sometime late in the season loquacious wide receiver Kelly Campbell implored Vikings pass catchers to grow out there hair so he could call them "America's Finest Receivers on Sunday."
"Afros" eventually came bursting of of helmets belonging to Campbell, Moss, TE Jermaine Wiggins and Nate Burleson I think. The look would have made Bake McBride and Darnell Hillman proud.
GAME OVER: The Vikings smashed the Packers that glorious Sunday, January 2005, then hooked Philly the next week. During the Thursday practice Winfield ran into the wall north side of the Winter Park practice facility. He was breaking up a play full speed and flew into the padded wall. Tice let me watch practice, and I was standing next to Publicist Tom West when the Winfield crash happened, and Tice, knowing it was bad, looked at me and screamed, "Allen, get the f**k out of here." I almost peed my pants.
Winfield was messed up into that Philly game, but of course played because he's A Vikings Great. They lost at Philly, Mike Tice finished the season with a playoff win on his resume, Daunte's season was spectacular, and he almost won the NFL MVP Award.
Moe Williams relived some of the 2004 season memories #92Noon on KFAN Friday and confirmed, "the 2004 team was the wildest team I ever have played for. We loved each other."
That Vikes playoff win from '04 is on KFAN and kfan.com/listen Sunday, and I can't wait to feel the nostalgia a time maybe we all could use some.