MINNEAPOLIS, DEC. 26 -- If a football team indeed resembles the play and personality of its quarterback, then the Minnesota Vikings' 27-24 loss to the Redskins stands as a perfect etching of Wade Wilson and his 1987 season. It was another Best Of and Worst Of performance.
Wilson ran for a game-high 75 yards, including a 38-yard gain that set up the tying touchdown early in the fourth quarter and a one-yard sneak that helped the Vikings to a 24-14 lead.
But there also were several blown scoring chances and three interceptions, one that Redskins cornerback Barry Wilburn returned 100 yards for a touchdown and turned the game from a possible 14-0 Minnesota lead into a 7-7 tie midway through the second quarter.
"The club's and my season have paralleled each other," Wilson said. "We both sure have had our ups and downs."
If the Vikings' season ends Sunday with a St. Louis victory over Dallas, Wilson may remember every scoring opportunity that turned to nothing over the past four weeks. It started when he and the offense failed to score from a yard away in the final minutes against Chicago at the beginning of the month and the Bears won, 30-24, in the final minute.
It continued -- as the Vikings' Wilson-Tommy Kramer quarterback controversy continued -- with a six-point loss against Green Bay the next week, a sloppy victory over Detroit last week. And, pressured by Washington's hefty pass rush, it concluded in a big, big way today in the Metrodome.
Four times in the first half, Wilson and the Vikings had the ball at or inside the Redskins 20-yard line. All they had to show for it by halftime was one touchdown, Alfred Anderson's nine-yard burst up the middle 4:50 into the game.
Once, on the Vikings' first possession of the game, Wilson's pass bounced off Leo Lewis' hands. Alvin Walton intercepted at the Washington 11. Once, at the start of the second quarter, the Vikings reached the Redskins 14, but a holding penalty and a seven-yard sack of Wilson pushed them back to the 31. Chuck Nelson missed a 51-yard field goal.
But the most damaging of all was Wilburn's interception. Wilson, twice scrambling away from Washington's Charles Mann and Dexter Manley for key gains, constructed a 13-play, 62-yard drive that took the Vikings to the Redskins 3. But on third and goal from the 7, Wilson looked for Anthony Carter in the end zone and threw the ball straight into a group of three Redskins.
Wilburn grabbed it on the goal line and all that delayed his end zone to end zone touchdown romp was a slight stumble at midfield. It was the longest interception returned by an opponent in Vikings history.
"My job is to get the ball in the end zone and we just didn't do it," Wilson said. "That has been the problem all year; we can move between the 20s, but we can't get it in. It was a bad play on my part. I misread the coverage. I was looking at man coverage and I forced it in there when I shouldn't have."
A possible three-touchdown lead had turned into a 14-7 deficit in the third quarter, but Wilson brought the Vikings back. He scrambled out of the pocket and ran 38 yards along the right sideline, from the Minnesota 46 to the Washington 16, to set up Anderson's tying touchdown. The run was the club's second longest by a quarterback, next to Fran Tarkenton's 52-yarder in 1961.
One possession later, after Joey Browner intercepted one of Doug Williams' passes, Wilson completed a four-play, 25-yard drive with 2:46 gone in the fourth quarter by sneaking over from a yard out for his fifth rushing touchdown of the season, which tied a club record held by Tarkenton.
Three minutes after that, Wilson led the Vikings to the 2, but had to settle for Chuck Nelson's field goal that gave them a 24-14 lead.
"I really thought we had it in the bag," Wilson said.
"We had a 10-point lead with six minutes, but neither the offense nor the defense could get the job done. In the last couple years, it seems like we can get that lead but we can't deliver the knockout punch. Why? If I knew that, we'd be a good football team. It's something we don't have here right now."
Wilson later threw another interception, but Ali Haji-Sheikh missed a 33-yard field goal that could have won it with 46 seconds remaining.
No matter. Haji-Sheikh's winner in overtime sent Wilson and the rest of his teammates home to await today's St. Louis game at Dallas.
If the Cardinals win, that will keep the Vikings from their first playoff appearance since 1982.
"We sure didn't want to have to wait for this," Wilson said. "I don't know if I'll watch the game or not. I haven't even thought about it. I wasn't planning on having to watch it."