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Vikes' Billick winning, but he may be losing out; Offensive coordinator not allowed to interview for head coaching jobs; NFL playoff notebook


Brian Billick was a happy but frustrated man yesterday.

The Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator was happy that his team's 41-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals left him two victories from a Super Bowl ring, but he's frustrated that if he gets it, he won't be able to interview for a head coaching job for another three weeks.

He was able to interview with the new Cleveland Browns during the bye week, but the league won't allow him to do any more interviews until after his team finishes the season.

Now that four jobs have been filled as he sits on the sideline, he said the league should change its policy and allow coaches in the playoffs to interview for jobs.

All he can do is listen to the rumors and wonder which teams are interested in him. The Ravens are rumored to be one of them.

"I think the league needs to take a serious look at the way this is handled," Billick said. "I'm sure they've got some good reasons for doing it. In my opinion, it totally ignores the human aspect of it.

"It is very frustrating because obviously there's nothing I can do about it. Teams become frustrated. They want to move along and want to hire a head coach. I can't have any contact at all. There's got to be a better apparatus."

Billick said being a head coach has been a goal all of his life and he's worried that many of the jobs he's interested in may get filled before he's free.

"The idea that there might not be anything available for me at the end of this rainbow because of the way are rules are structured is not out of the realm of possibility. I would like to see the league leave it at a club level and let the grown men decide for themselves how they want to handle this instead of them dictating to me where my focus is," he said.

Respect for Williams

The Vikings' Randy Moss had quite a duel with Cardinals cornerback Aeneas Williams, who intercepted one pass aimed at him and knocked down another. Moss caught four passes, including one for a touchdown, but Williams wasn't covering him on that play.

Moss said Williams and Washington Redskins veteran Darrell Green are the best cornerbacks who've covered him.

"Really, I like to compete, and Williams and Darrell are really good competitors. I learned a lot out there today," Moss said.

Deep at running back

Vikings coach Dennis Green compared his running back combo of Robert Smith and former Raven Leroy Hoard to his quarterback combo of Randall Cunningham and Brad Johnson.

"I don't think we could go out and win with just Leroy, and I don't think we can go out and win just with Robert. I think we need them both, and we take take that same position with Randall and Brad," he said.

Hoard, who plays a lot in short-yardage situations, ran for two touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass.

Hoard said: "I'm beyond all that personal stuff, so if I can put that ring on at the end of the year, that will be enough for me."

Biggest day for Testaverde

Former Raven Vinny Testaverde did more than his share to help the Jets win. He completed 24 of 36 passes. In the second quarter, when Curtis Martin fumbled, Testaverde ran down Chris Hudson, who had picked up the fumble, and caused him to fumble away the ball on an attempted lateral.

"This is the biggest game I've won as a pro," Testaverde said. "Next week against Denver will be bigger. I'm excited, but I'm not satisfied yet. It's not a matter of money. It's not a matter of fame. I just want to play for a Super Bowl ring."

Et cetera

Former Ravens tackle Tony Jones, who twisted his right knee in the second quarter of the Broncos' win Saturday and did not return, is expected to be healthy for Sunday's championship. A magnetic resonance imaging test was negative, and coach Mike Shanahan said Jones should return to practice tomorrow. Arizona's loss means all eight of the teams that played the wild-card weekend have been eliminated. Since the current playoff format was started in 1990, 72 teams have played in the first round and only two -- Buffalo in 1992 and Denver last year -- made the Super Bowl. Robert Smith's 124-yard rushing total broke Chuck Foreman's team playoff record of 118 set in 1976. Gary Anderson's two field goals gave him a total of 23 playoff field goals in his career, breaking George Blanda's league record of 22. Anderson hasn't missed a field-goal attempt all season.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 1/11/99

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