By ROGER MILLS and ERNEST HOOPER
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 9, 2001
MINNEAPOLIS -- They may be from the frigid northwest, but even the Minnesota Vikings aren't absolved of questions about playing in the cold.
Going into Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the Giants, the Vikings must deal with the questions about their ability to play in cold and wet conditions and on a Giants Stadium surface that seemed chewed up after Sunday's win over the Eagles.
"They have to wear the same cleats like we have to wear," rookie linebacker Kailee Wong said. "So it's not going to be a problem. It's not like they're going to be playing on a different surface than we are."
Wong said that although the Vikings have been forced to practice indoors since early November, and have played their past two games in domed stadiums, braving adverse weather is par for the course in that part of the country.
"Hey, we still have to walk to our cars in like minus-50, don't we?" he joked.
In his Monday morning news conference, Vikings coach Dennis Green put an early silence on the talk about playing in New York this weekend, where temperatures are supposed to be just above freezing and where rain is very much a part of the extended forecast.
"There's not much we can do about that, psychologically," Green said. "We're going to play no matter what the conditions are. We're going to be prepared to play under the same conditions that the Giants will play on, and that will be our only focus. We cannot practice outdoors. We've been locked in since Nov.6, we have to practice in our (bubble) facility. It's worked for us in the past when it's cold and we think it'll work again."
WHAT BAD ANKLE?: Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper felt a bit sore after Saturday's game but returned to practice Monday and seemed fine. Culpepper received treatment Sunday and was walking around the training facility without a noticeable limp.
During the game, Culpepper seemed unbothered by the high ankle sprain that threatened to keep him out.
"He limped a little bit walking around but (not) when he had to run," Green said. "He's going to run if he has to take off. He's not a running quarterback, otherwise he would not have rushed for 1,000 yards in college and probably would have rushed for 2,000 yards. He's primarily a pocket passer who, if the opportunity presents itself, will take off and run, and when he does he's very effective."
Asked if Culpepper showed any hesitance when he did break out and run, Green replied: "Daunte's a tremendous competitor. He's doing what he always does. That's what he did in high school, that's what he did in college, that's what he's doing now."
Veteran Orlando Thomas (hamstring) and cornerback Kenny Wright (sprained right knee) did not practice Monday but may be ready for Sunday's game.
THE PICK: Giants players still were raving about Jason Sehorn's interception against the Eagles.
Sehorn battled the ball while on the ground, snared it, then managed to get up and return it 32 yards for a touchdown. Linebacker Micheal Barrow likened it to the mystical martial arts moves Keanu Reeves used in the movie The Matrix.
"That was supernatural," Barrow said. "It felt like something out of the movies, like The Matrix, slow motion. He tapped it and made it happen and then for him to get up and score. It was something out of those sci-fi films like X-Men. Steven Spielberg couldn't have done better than that."
New York Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn grabs the ball after intercepting a pass intended for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Torrance Small.
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