Moss spices up snoozer
By Tim Korte
Minnesota's visit to Seattle looked like a snoozer, a matchup of two 0-3 teams. Both quickly spiraled into trouble after opening the season with high expectations.
Then came the midweek arrest of Vikings star receiver Randy Moss, who spent a night in jail, but will play Sunday. Just the kind of news to make a winless coach queasy.
"This is not a good situation," said Mike Tice, Minnesota's rookie coach.
Moss was charged with two misdemeanors, but dodged a possible felony count after he allegedly pushed a Minneapolis traffic officer one half-block while she sat on the hood of his car.
"I'm sorry for what I've caused and what I brought on everyone who really cares about me or this team," Moss said. "I am human. I am a man. I do take care of my responsibilities, and I stand up for my actions."
It was an extra headache for Tice, who said he had trouble sleeping and chugged half a bottle of antacid one night.
"I am disappointed," Tice said. "I have developed a great relationship with Randy and other players, but this one here is important because he is a big part of what we're trying to accomplish."
Now, the focus will be on how Moss performs following his latest round of trouble, and whether it will be a distraction to his teammates.
"We are with Randy. He is family to all of us. At the same time, we have to get ready to go win," said quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who yelled at Moss on the sideline after one of his career-high four interceptions in last week's 21-14 loss to Carolina.
Center of attention
Other story lines were pushed aside by Moss' troubles.
Tice is returning to the city where he played tight end from 1981-88 and 1990-91. His children were born in the Seattle area and he maintains a home in Washington.
"I still have a fond place in my gullet for the Seattle Seahawks, and I still fashion myself a Seattle Seahawk in some ways," Tice said. "My first victory as a head coach couldn't come at a better time for our football team or myself."
The Vikings haven't started 0-4 since Bud Grant's first season in 1967.
Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, meanwhile, is 0-3 for the first time in his 11 years as an NFL head coach. Yet the Seahawks remain upbeat and Holmgren thinks they can pull out of their slump.
"There's not a doubt in my mind," he said. "I didn't think we would be in this situation right now, but I'm not any less optimistic than I was at the beginning of the season."
Both teams are struggling to produce a ground attack, and their passing offenses have stalled without it.
After throwing for a career-high 352 yards in a second-week loss to Arizona, Seattle's Trent Dilfer had only 118 yards passing in last week's 9-6 loss to the Giants.
Shaun Alexander has gained 36, 37 and 37 yards in the first three games.
Defense a question mark
The Vikings have hurt themselves on defense by allowing big plays at critical times.
"When you have a younger team, guys sometimes go a little bit overboard in terms of trying to make something happen," said cornerback Corey Chavous, one of eight new defensive starters.
The Vikings offense isn't exactly rolling, averaging 142.0 yards rushing.
"What we need to do is run the football, move the chains and keep our defense fresh," Tice said.
Moss' availability presents problems for the Seahawks, and not just because of his exceptional athletic ability and speed. Moss is 6-foot-4, and Culpepper has another big target in 6-2 Derrick Alexander.
Size is an issue because Seattle's All-Pro cornerback, Shawn Springs, is questionable with a sprained right foot. That could leave 6-foot Ken Lucas or 5-9 Willie Williams to cover Moss.
"Six-four against 5-9, every team looks for that," Williams said. "I just need to play bigger than I am. It's all ajout the size of my heart."