Vikings begin late-season swoon

Tuesday, December 14, 2004 at 12:00am

The more things change in Minnesota, the more they stay the same.

Last season, the Vikings began the season 6-0, but won only three of their final 10 games to finish 9-7 and out of the playoffs. They were knocked out on the final play of the final game in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

This year, after beginning 5-1, the Vikings insisted they had learned their lessons from last season and something similar couldn't happen again.

Wrong.

Minnesota has now lost five of its past seven games after dropping a home game to Seattle Sunday, and fell out of first place in the NFC North. The Vikings are one game behind first-place Green Bay, which struggled to beat Detroit at Lambeau Field Sunday.

Minnesota's final three games are at Detroit, home against the Packers and at Washington.

Coach Mike Tice, who has an option on his contract for next season, knows owner Red McCombs is unlikely to pick it up if the team fails to make the playoffs again.

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