Sports

'Divine intervention' sends Vikings outside

Chuck Foreman considers it "divine intervention" that the Minnesota Vikings are playing outdoors today in bone-chilling temperatures on the 29th anniversary of the final game at Met Stadium.

Scott Studwell wonders if it’s an “omen.” Matt Blair simply finds it “meant to be” that the Vikings ended up outside on a day when the team will celebrate its 50th season by honoring its 50 greatest players.

Try explaining that one, even in this haywire season.

“Whether the stars were aligned for the right reasons or wrong reasons, it’s happened,” Studwell said. “To celebrate 50 years by playing outdoors, it’s pretty nostalgic.”

The Vikings’ foundation is built on frostbite football, their first 21 years spent outdoors at Met Stadium. Then came nearly three decades under a Teflon sky and game-day temperatures of 70 degrees.

But if only for one night – exactly 29 years to the day since the last game at the Met – the Vikings will break out their thermal wear, hand warmers and portable heaters for an outdoors game against the Chicago Bears at TCF Bank Stadium.

“Everybody is talking about, ‘Well, it’s going to be cold,’” Foreman said. “Hey listen, that’s what football is meant to be played in. Truthfully, I prefer the outside and the elements. For a cold-weather team, that’s what you want.”

Not everyone is crazy about the idea. Players from both teams voiced concerns about the condition of the field as university officials worked to thaw the surface at the stadium. Vikings punter Chris Kluwe tweeted that the field is “unplayable” and compared it to concrete after Sunday’s walkthrough.

The Vikings are returning to their roots thanks to a snowstorm that caused the Metrodome roof to collapse, forcing them to become football nomads. The Vikings began December with a three-game homestand and they will conclude that stretch by playing in their third different stadium.

“Give me a million different scenarios and I never would have thought we would have three home games in three different locations,” linebacker Ben Leber said.

“In the craziest of all crazy seasons, it’s just one chapter after another,” kicker Ryan Longwell said.

COWHER’S LIST

Chin up, Giants fans. After a mind-boggling 38-31 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, one of the most disappointing losses of Tom Coughlin’s tenure with the team, another Super Bowl-winning coach may be raising his hand as a possible replacement for him.

According to an ESPN report, a source close to Bill Cowher has said that the former Steelers coach has a “wish list” of three teams he’d consider for a return to the NFL.

And the one at the top just let a 31-10 lead slip away in the fourth quarter of a crucial game against a division opponent.

The Giants are cited as a possible landing spot for Cowher, who has been a broadcaster for CBS the last four seasons, along with the Dolphins and Texans. It’s not the first time Cowher and his prominent jaw line have been linked to the Giants. Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis has suggested several times that Cowher would like to coach the team.

Of course for that to happen, Coughlin has to not be the coach next year. A collapse the last three weeks of this season that results in a second straight playoff-less year could facilitate that. At the other end of the spectrum, a championship (or close run to the title) could allow Coughlin to retire on top.

Coughlin, 64, has one year remaining on his contract with the Giants. Neither he nor the team have shown any signs that he will not be back in 2011.

COLLIE HURT, AGAIN

The brief return of Austin Collie re-energized Indy’s offense.

Now, the Colts hope he’ll be back in time for the playoffs.

The second-year receiver left Indianapolis’ 34-24 win over Jacksonville just before halftime Sunday after getting hit in the head and sustaining his second diagnosed concussion in seven weeks.

“The only update I can give you is he’s doing OK right now, but he had a concussion, and he’ll be evaluated further,” coach Jim Caldwell said after the game.

Caldwell isn’t about to guess how long Collie might be out this time, especially with the NFL’s emphasis this season on treating concussions and particularly repeat concussions.

He was injured late in the second quarter when Peyton Manning tried to thread a ball between two Jacksonville defenders on third-and-12. Collie appeared to catch the ball, but when the second defender, linebacker Daryl Smith, hit Collie in the head with his forearm, the ball came out.

The pass was ruled incomplete and no penalty was called.

EXTRA POINTS

The Bengals’ first win after a 10-game losing streak ended without a catch by Terrell Owens, who missed practice last week with torn cartilage in his left knee and hobbled off the field during Cincinnati’s opening drive after running a long route. The injury will likely sideline him for the final two games. Browns cornerback Eric Wright hurt his left knee in the fourth quarter. Philadelphia Eagles safety Nate Allen and New York Giants backup defensive end Dave Tollefson were sidelined with right knee injuries. Allen was hurt late in the second quarter and was carted off. Cowboys starting safety Gerald Sensabaugh and rookie linebacker Sean Lee both left Dallas’ 33-30 victory over Washington with concussions.

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