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Green returns to Minnesota with last-place team

Nov 21, 2006 - 10:59 PM Arizona (2-8) at Minnesota (4-6) Sunday 1:00 pm EST

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Dennis Green made the Minnesota Vikings a perennial playoff team. He has failed to steer the Arizona Cardinals in the right direction.

Green returns to Minnesota for the first time on Sunday when the last-place Cardinals visit the Metrodome.

In his third and perhaps final season as Cardinals coach, Green has a 13-29 record. After finishing 6-10 in 2004, the Cards slipped to 5-11 last season.

Expectations were high in 2006 with the team signing two-time rushing champion Edgerrin James to a four-year, $30 million contract. But James has yet to rush for more than 100 yards in a game for the Cardinals, who are tied for the worst record in the NFL.

In Minnesota, Green posted a 101-70 mark with eight playoff appearances and four division titles in 10 seasons. The Vikings reached the NFC championship game twice under Green, but never made the Super Bowl.

Green was forced out with one game remaining in the 2001 campaign with the Vikings at 5-10, the worst record of his tenure.

But Green's stint in Minnesota also was tumultuous at times. There were allegations of sexual harassment, and he once threatened to sue some of the team's owners for part of the franchise. He also had to deal with the death of tackle Korey Stringer during training camp in the summer of 2000.

Green was hired by Arizona in January 2004. Since moving to the desert in 1988, the Cardinals have made the playoffs just once.

Last week, the Cardinals snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 17-10 win over Detroit.

Rookie Matt Leinart threw for 233 yards and a touchdown and also ran for a score and James enjoyed his best game as a Cardinal, rushing for 96 yards on 22 carries.

But even in a win, Arizona suffered a loss. Bertrand Berry, the team's best pass-rushing defensive end with six sacks, suffered a torn triceps and will miss the rest of the season.

The bad news for James is that he faces a team which ranks first in the NFL in run defense. Last week, the Vikings set a club record, holding Miami to minus-three yards rushing on 14 carries in a 24-20 loss.

The tandem of Pat Williams and Kevin Williams at defensive tackle and linebackers E.J. Henderson, Ben Leber and Napolean Harris have been primarily responsible for Minnesota's ability to consistently stuff the run.

That should make Green air it out on Sunday with Leinart and the three-receiver alignment of Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald and Bryant Johnson. Boldin leads the team with 55 catches for 748 yards.

Cornerbacks Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot and safety Darren Sharper will match up against the trio of receivers.

The Vikings turned the ball over three times in their loss to Miami. Brad Johnson threw for 262 yards, but had one pass returned 51 yards for a touchdown by defensive end Jason Taylor. Chester Taylor rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns, but also fumbled twice, one of which was returned 48 yards for a score by safety Renaldo Hill.






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