Ex-Pro Bowler Dexter Manley made life miserable yesterday for current Pro Bowler Gary Zimmerman, which is why Manley and the Washington Redskins are going to that other "Bowl" in San Diego later this month.

Where the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers failed, the Redskins succeeded. Quarterback Wade Wilson -- whose Minnesota Vikings lost yesterday's NFC championship game, 17-10 -- had time to wait and wait and throw in earlier playoff victories, but Wilson admitted "the key" yesterday was the Redskins' pass rush from all angles that brought them eight sacks.

"Every time you turned around, {Wilson} was on his back," Vikings wide receiver Anthony Carter said.

Wilson said the Redskins brought everybody who was anybody into the pass rush, people such as nickel back Clarence Vaughn, strong safety Alvin Walton and linebackers Kurt Gouveia and Ravin Caldwell who each had one sack. Manley had 1 1/2 sacks, Dave Butz had two and Charles Mann was credited with half a sack.

The sack total was one short of an NFC championship game record -- set by San Francisco in 1984 -- and Wilson says that was yesterday's game in a nutshell.

Zimmerman, who was supposed to block Manley, said Manley -- who also caused a bushel-load of hurries -- lined up further outside than he usually does and added: "{The Redskins} didn't use the same defense twice."

Butz, meanwhile, kept blowing by guard Greg Koch, the best friend of Redskins guard R.C. Theilemann.

Other Vikings players pointed to other factors in explaining the defeat. Eight of Wilson's passes were dropped, and many Vikings talked about their uncanny ability to mess up inside the opponents 20-yard line.

"{Scoring inside the 20} has been our problem all year," running back Darrin Nelson said. "So, you knew it'd raise its ugly head in the playoffs."

Truthfully, the Vikings have often treated the end zone like the plague. Inside the 20 during the regular season, they missed seven field goals, threw three interceptions, fumbled once, let the halftime or fourth-quarter clock run out on them twice and once lost the ball on downs.

In the playoffs, though, they'd scored at least a field goal every time inside the 20 -- until yesterday. Trailing, 10-7, early in the fourth quarter, they had a first and goal at the 3 and settled for a field goal. They ran up the middle twice with rookie Rick Fenney, gaining two yards. On third down, they wanted rookie D.J. Dozier to dive over the top, but Redskins middle linebacker Neal Olkewicz lived over from the other side and latched onto Dozier's ankles before he could leap.

"I'd seen a clear path to the goal line," Dozier said.

Wilson thought maybe the Vikings should have thrown near the goal line, saying: "You wonder why we don't mix a pass in there somewhere, but you've got to think your guys {up front} are going to want it and blow them off the line on running plays."

Kelvin Bryant scored the Redskins' first touchdown on a 42-yard pass over linebacker Jesse Solomon who says he has 4.5 second speed in the 40-yard dash and says he told Bryant afterward: "You've had your catch for the day." Actually, Bryant caught three others.

Redskins receiver Gary Clark also made a 43-yard catch that set up the winning touchdown, and he made the catch by faking out rookie safety Reggie Rutland on what Rutland called an "out and up."

"It was a mental breakdown," Rutland said.

Vikings Coach Jerry Burns said he "considered" replacing Wilson with oft-injured Tommy Kramer, but added: "Kramer wasn't 100 percent" because of a nerve problem in his shoulder.

One other thing the Vikings pointed to was that the Redskins played with much more intensity against them than either San Francisco or New Orleans did. "The 49ers and Saints figured they could walk all over us," Solomon said. "The Redskins knew better."