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Minnesota view on the sporting world

Quarterback play difference in Vikings' win over the Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. -- Paddling in the stream of consciousness in the wake of the Vikings' impressive victory Monday night:

Has Brad Johnson earned that raise yet, Zygi?

The 'Skins have more problems than FEMA, but give credit to the Vikings for beating a talented opponent on the road in front of a huge, loud crowd.

And give coach Brad Childress full credit for following through on his mission statement about accountability.

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Koren Robinson drove drunk and endangered people's lives, and Childress cut him, even though that move put the team in position to lose an expensive grievance.

Dwight Smith behaved badly in a Minneapolis stairwell, and Childress benched him, even though this was Monday Night Football and Childress was making his NFL head-coaching debut.

Of course, he could afford to bench the free safety against Washington quarterback Mark Brunell, who throws like he's skipping rocks across a lake.

Still, both moves bolstered the perception of Childress as a guy who believes he can win in the NFL with players who are decent, in all senses of the word.

(And we're still giving him props for not kicking a field goal that would have pushed his first exhibition game into overtime.)

Did you see the holes opened by the left side of the offensive line? Tackle Bryant McKinnie would drive his guy to the Potomac, and guard Steve Hutchinson would drive his guy toward the Chesapeake, and then Chester Taylor would take two steps and fall down.

Is that the Vikings' requirement for a running back -- falling forward without fumbling?

NFL locker rooms are rarely happy places, at least in my experience of covering the league since 1989.

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They're filled with large, sweaty men, some of whom appear to be in the throes of 'roid rage, and they've just spent three hours getting their helmets smacked and their knees twisted.

But as I left the Vikings' locker room late Monday night, I realized that it felt in there the way the Twins clubhouse feels after victories. Nobody was clamoring for attention, nobody was acting like a jerk. One of the great pleasures of my career has been following this Twins team and all of their wonderful characters. With Johnson, Matt Birk, Pat Williams and Antoine Winfield on the Vikings, you could feel a Piranha-like vibe.

Play that game over with Johnson as the 'Skins quarterback and Brunell in purple, and the 'Skins win 30-3.

• Wonderful; to see my old friends Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes on the field before the game. By the way, put Cruise on the shoulders of 'Skins owner Danny Snyder, and they might be tall enough to get on the rides at Disney World.

• Tony; Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, the stars of ESPN's fabulous "Pardon The Interruption," were working at FedEx Field.

I always pull for my print brethren when they get a shot at broadcast jobs, so I'm happy to see Kornheiser in the booth, but he's got to toughen up.

After a preseason game, a colleague of his at the Washington Post criticized his performance, and he went nuts. Tony: Anyone who wants to work in the public eye has to accept being a tin duck in a shooting gallery. Walk it off.

As for Wilbon, he's as good a guy and as passionate a sports fan as he appears to be on TV.

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• Randy; Moss has transformed Oakland into a winner, hasn't he?

When the Vikings drafted Troy Williamson, they should have taken San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman.

Of course, I was wrong, too. At the time I thought the Vikings should have taken USC receiver Mike Williams, who isn't as good as Williamson.

The rookie coaching crop looked pretty good in Week 1. Eric Mangini beat Jeff Fisher, Childress beat Joe Gibbs and Scott Linehan beat Mike Shanahan.

Either coaching is overrated or, more likely, coaching reputations are overrated.

The smartest NFL coaches are the ones who retire with their reputations intact, such as Bill Walsh. Gibbs, Bill Parcells and Jimmy Johnson are multiple Super Bowl winners who didn't enhance their stature by coming back for a big check and one last shot at glory.

Yes, the comparisons between Snyder and George Steinbrenner are accurate. Except for the, you know, winning.

Jim Souhan writes for the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. His column is distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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