NFL News of December 26, 2002

Never mind the percentages. Forget the book.

When the Lions and Minnesota Vikings get together to finish the NFL season Sunday at Ford Field, expect the unexpected.

As the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg and Vikings coach Mike Tice already have established themselves as risk-takers willing to take a chance and—if need be—pay the consequences.

Mornhinweg did it five weeks ago, taking the wind instead of the ball at Champaign, Ill., thinking it gave the Lions the best chance at beating the Bears in overtime.

It backfired, the Lions lost, and Mornhinweg’s controversial choice presumably will be one of the things owner William Clay Ford will consider when he decides whether to fire him at the end of the season.

“Look, with teams in the state we’re in and the Vikings are in, it’s very difficult to play by the book and give your team the best chance to win,” Mornhinweg said.

…Mornhinweg is right. Tice went against the odds two weeks ago. With the Vikings playing at New Orleans, Tice called for a two-point conversion attempt after the Vikings had scored a touchdown and pulled within a point late in the game.

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper bobbled the shotgun snap, picked it up off the turf and scrambled into the end zone for two points, giving the Vikings a 32-31 upset victory.

— Curt Sylvester, Detroit Free Press “Lions, Vikings unpredictable: Losing seasons make coaches take chances”

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