MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Dennis Green made a tactical mistake that almost let his good friend Tony Dungy beat him.
That is, until the brilliance of Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss pulled out a 30-23 for his Vikings over Dungy's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Green's moment of truth came midway through the fourth quarter with the Vikings holding a 20-16 lead and a fourth-and-5 at the Tampa Bay 34. That's no-man's land. If Green was to send out Gary Anderson for a 52-yard field goal try and it missed, the Bucs would have had the ball at their own 42.
If he made it?
Anderson's longest is 55 yards, and that was in 1984 when he was 25 years old, not 41.
So many coaches think the odds are better trying for a first down than kicking it. Others try and pooch punt the ball inside the 10.
Green sent out Anderson and the worst happened -- Warren Sapp blocked Anderson's kick and Donnie Abraham picked it up and ran 53 yards for a touchdown that gave the Bucs their first lead of the game.
Score one for Dungy, a close friend of Green's who used to be his defensive coordinator.
But four minutes later, Green's athletes won him the game -- Moss leaped between Pro Bowlers Abraham and John Lynch to pull in a 41-yard TD pass from Culpepper.
"They have a great team," Green said of the Bucs. "We thought we had them put away and then they thought they had put us away. The bottom line is there were times when the momentum changed, and that is the toughest thing a coach can go through."
Dungy rarely shows much emotion -- certainly not as much as Green.
But when Moss sliced between two of his best defenders to make the winning catch, he just turned and walked away from the play, a wry smile on his face. He certainly knows them both -- he coveted Culpepper and hoped he would be available with the 15th pick of the 1999 draft, but Green grabbed him with the 11th.
Afterwards, he reverted to normal coachspeak.
"He just jumped and got it," Dungy said of Moss. "Our guys have to go up there and get it with him."
Abraham is 5-foot-10. Lynch is 6-2. Moss is 6-4 and has springs in his feet.
"Yes, but you have to make the plays," Dungy said.
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