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PRO FOOTBALL: THE PLAYOFFS : Carter, Vikings Catch 49ers by Surprise, 36-24

January 10, 1988|CHRIS DUFRESNE | Times Staff Writer

Soon, it was Young scrambling left and running five yards for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 27-17 with four minutes left in the third quarter.

But on the next series, Wilson went again to Carter, who leaped over McKyer for a 40-yard catch down to the 49er 25-yard line.

Three plays later, a 40-yard Nelson field goal made it 30-17.

The 49ers, scrambling to make a game of it, took one more desperate stab at the lead late in the third quarter.

But on fourth down at the Viking 31, Walsh elected to try a field goal from 48 yards rather than go for the first down.

The problem was, and Walsh certainly knew it, was that kicker Ray Wersching had made only 3 of 7 field goals attempts between the 40- and 50-yard lines this season.

Not surprisingly, Wersching's kick fell well short.

The Vikings countered again with Nelson on the next possession, and he kicked the third of his four field goals to essentially put the game away, giving the Vikings a 33-17 lead with 11:39 left.

Perhaps even more surprising than the 49ers' decision not to double cover Carter all afternoon was the shutdown of the Jerry Rice machine.

Rice made his first reception, a 13-yarder, with 1:08 left in the first half.

Millard, Viking defensive tackle, said the pass rush took Rice out of the game.

"To stop Rice you've got to stop Montana," Millard said. "It's simple: No Montana, no Rice."

But Rice was covered even when Montana had time to release the ball.

And for that, the Viking secondary would like some credit.

"When you here a single name all the time, and you know you've got to go against him, it backs you against the wall," Viking cornerback Carl Lee said. "It was like we don't even exist. It was like impossible. But we did it. He's a great player, but how do you like our secondary now?"

Lee said the Vikings threw their defensive book at Rice.

"We had him doubled, we had safeties over the top of him, we did a bunch of things," he said. "We kept changing on him. We wanted to keep everything moving on him so he never got into a rhythm."

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