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Vikings Corner: St. Louis Rams have turned from turf show to circus act

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The Vikings' high-flying offense of the late 1990s came to a crashing halt on Jan. 14, 2001. Affectionately known as 41-donut.

The team that set the NFL single-season scoring record with 556 points was broken; nothing was more evident of that than Spurgon Wynn running the offense to finish off 2001 at 5-11, their worst since Les Steckel.

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The Vikings started over.

Denny Green was fired, Robert Smith retired, Cris Carter was cut and Red McCombs closed his wallet. Not quite the recipe for success, but the Vikings did stay competitive.

I'm not saying they were contending for a division title each year, but they always had potential. There was always a reason to watch and the dome has sold out every game since that magical, if not heartbreaking, 1998 season.

By definition, potential doesn't always mean success, but at least there's still a chance. Something the St. Louis Rams have given up long ago.

Forget Ringling Brothers, the Rams are the greatest show on earth.

ESPN's Chris Berman, famous for anointing nicknames, couldn't have known then how long the circus would actually last.

The Greatest Show on Turf debuted in 1999 and lasted until 2003. They went to two Super Bowls, winning one, but the success wouldn't last. Since then they haven't finished above .500 and are still looking for rock-bottom.

Two years ago the Rams only won three games, and amazingly enough they have gotten progressively worse. With a paltry two wins last year they missed out on the number one overall pick in the draft only because the Lions never cracked the win column.

The ineptitude shown in Detroit last year spilled into this season as the Lions extended their losing streak to full 19 games, seven shy of the record, but Tampa Bay can't uncork the champagne bottles yet.

The Rams are coming.

St. Louis has lost 14 games in a row and has a fantastic chance of matching the Lions' 0-for-the-season, to tie the record for consecutive losses.

Interestingly enough, the only winnable game on their schedule is a road game at Ford Field in Detroit; even then they'll be underdogs.

0-26, that's their potential.

The Vikings outmatch the Rams on both sides of the ball, so much so that it can't even be considered a "trap" game. The only bright spot for St. Louis is their new head coach, Steve Spagnuolo.

The former defensive coordinator is the only reason the New York Giants won the Super Bowl two years ago. It was his defense that upset the top three rated offenses through the playoffs that year, including the 18-0 Patriots.

Spagnuolo gives the Rams potential. Unfortunately for St. Louis fans though, potential doesn't equal success. Hopefully for them, he'll at least give them a reason to watch.

TJ Melcher can also be heard on the Football Show on Mondays at 6 p.m. on KBUN AM1450.

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Pioneer staff reports
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