Vikes make playoffs despite another loss

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 3, 2005

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) &045; The Minnesota Vikings collapsed again, only to fall into the playoffs thanks to a safety net provided by the New Orleans Saints.

Thwarted by an undermanned but swarming defense and their own mistakes, the Vikings wilted for the second year in a row with a chance to clinch a postseason berth in the season finale. They lost 21-18 to the Washington Redskins on Sunday, then retreated to the locker room to learn that they had backed in to the playoffs.

Because they lost, the Vikings needed New Orleans to beat Carolina or New York to beat St. Louis. The Saints won 21-18, while the Jets and Rams went to overtime.

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The Vikings finished 8-8, losing seven of their last 10 games after a 5-1 start. Last year, they fell from 6-0 to 9-7 and were eliminated by a touchdown pass on the last play of the season in an 18-17 loss to Arizona. Mike Tice jokingly referred to himself as &uot;Coach Collapse&uot; last week, but at least he is in the playoffs for the first time since taking over from Dennis Green during the 2001 season.

The Redskins (6-10) gave a spirited finish to Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs’ disappointing comeback season, his worst in 13 years with the Redskins. The defense rattled Minnesota quarterback Dante Culpepper with four sacks and several times forced him to throw the ball away.

Patrick Ramsey completed 17 of 26 passes for 216 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and Ladell Betts ran 26 times for a career-high 118 yards subbing for injured back Clinton Portis. The Redskins scored more than two touchdowns for only the second time all season.

Culpepper completed 27 of 44 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. His last pass was a 38-yard desperation touchdown to Marcus Robinson with 2 seconds remaining. The Vikings failed to recover the subsequent onside kick.

Randy Moss caught five passes for 66 yards.