Mall of America Field at the HHH Metrodome has a reputation for being one of the league’s toughest places to play for opposing offenses. The Vikings will have that advantage working in their favor this weekend when they host the Dallas Cowboys for the right to play in the NFC Championship Game next weekend.
The Cowboys would obviously prefer to play this weekend’s game in their home stadium and realize the benefits of playing at home. But there is one player, more than any other on the Cowboys roster, who won’t mind the trip to Minnesota this weekend.
That player is RB Marion Barber III, a native of Wayzata, Minnesota and a former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher star. At the University of Minnesota, Barber teamed for 2 seasons with Laurence Maroney to form a dynamic and productive RB tandem. Barber finished his career with the Gophers #2 on the school’s all-time rushing TD list, 1 TD ahead of his father, Marion Barber, Jr.
This weekend he’ll return to his college home field to try and take down the #2-seeded Vikings, a team with the NFL’s 2nd-ranked rushing defense. When Barber takes a handoff from QB Tony Romo, it will be power versus power, and something’s gotta give. A physical back, Barber is the Cowboys grinder and he takes on tacklers with relentless aggression.
Barber is dealing with a knee injury that caused him to miss the final 3 quarters of last week’s Wild Card win over the Philadelphia Eagles, but Cowboys Head Coach Wade Phillips sounded optimistic that his star RB would be able to play on Sunday.
“Marion Barber of course is really excited about playing in this game and looking forward to it,” Phillips told Minnesota reporters on Wednesday. “I don’t think anybody is more excited about playing up there than he is. He got mad at me the past two years when I wouldn’t play him in the preseason game.”
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