Culpepper, Carr put up big numbers as Vikings outgun Texans

Posted: Monday, October 11, 2004


  Minnesota Vikings running back Mewelde Moore, center, jumps over Houston Texans defender Robaire Smith, right, on a gain of 7 yards in the first quarter in Houston, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2004. Texans' Seth Payne is at left. AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Minnesota Vikings running back Mewelde Moore, center, jumps over Houston Texans defender Robaire Smith, right, on a gain of 7 yards in the first quarter in Houston, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2004. Texans' Seth Payne is at left.

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

HOUSTON The crowd was rocking, David Carr and Andre Johnson couldn't miss and the Houston Texans had just forced the game into overtime by rallying from a 21-point deficit.

Then Daunte Culpepper fired a perfect spiral to a streaking Marcus Robinson, and just like that the comeback was over and the Minnesota Vikings had escaped with a 34-28 win.

Culpepper's fifth touchdown pass, a 50-yarder to Robinson on the Vikings' second possession in overtime, allowed Minnesota to win after Carr and Johnson had led the Texans on an electrifying second-half rally.

''We had to fight 60 minutes plus,'' said Culpepper, who passed for 396 yards. ''It's a great win.''

It was nearly a disaster for Minnesota (3-1).

The Vikings led 21-0 in the third quarter and 28-14 in the fourth before the Texans (2-3) recovered and sent it into overtime. Carr's second TD pass to Johnson, a 22-yarder with 1:53 to play, tied it at 28.

But while the Texans proved they're never out of any game, the Vikings showed them just how to close one out.

Starting at their own 19, the Vikings moved to midfield in three plays. On first down, Culpepper saw Robinson get a step on a defender and hit him perfectly in stride.

He dropped it.

Two plays later, Culpepper went right back to him on third-and-12. Robinson split the deep coverage and Culpepper delivered another perfect strike.

Robinson hung on this time, racing all by himself the last 15 yards to the end zone.

''I was still upset about the drop,'' Robinson said. ''When it was still in the air, all I was thinking was 'catch this ball' and then whatever happens, happens.''

Culpepper said it was an easy choice. The Texans had Randy Moss in double coverage, leaving Robinson wide open. Moss had already caught two touchdowns, including a 50-yarder in the fourth quarter.

''Nobody's perfect,'' Culpepper said. ''Everybody's going to make mistakes. What's important is what you do after you make mistakes.''

The Texans had come into the game with franchise-first consecutive wins, and nearly turned it into a real winning streak behind Carr's 372 yards passing and three TDs.

Rams 33, Seahawks 27, OT

SEATTLE Never count out Marc Bulger and the quick-strike Rams.

Bulger threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Shaun McDonald less than 3 minutes into overtime, ending Seattle's 10-game home winning streak.

Bulger led a 17-point rally by throwing two TD passes in the final 5:34 of regulation. Jeff Wilkins kicked a 36-yard field goal with 8 seconds left to force overtime. The Rams improved to 3-2.

The Seahawks (3-1) appeared to have things in control, leading 24-7 at halftime and 27-10 midway through the third period.

Jets 16, Bills 14

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Doug Brien kicked a 38-yard field goal with 58 seconds remaining to move the Jets to 4-0 for the second time in franchise history.

Chad Pennington went 31-of-42 for 304 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but his biggest plays came at the end, when the Jets had to rally from a 14-13 deficit. Pennington went 7-of-8 for 51 yards, taking the Jets 60 yards in five minutes to set up the winning score.

Buffalo (0-4) had one final shot from its 48 with 2 seconds left, but Drew Bledsoe was intercepted by Terrell Buckley near the goal line.

The last time the Jets were 4-0 was 2000, when they failed to make the playoffs and finished 9-7.

Lions 17, Falcons 10

ATLANTA The Lions finally scored a touchdown rushing and harassed Michael Vick into three turnovers, preventing the Falcons from going 5-0 for the first time in franchise history.

Joey Harrington threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Az-Zahir Hakim on fourth down and Artose Pinner scored on a 1-yard dive to put the Lions (3-1) ahead for good.

Detroit has won both its road games this season after setting an NFL record by losing 24 straight away from home over the previous three years.

The Falcons (4-1) lost for the first time under rookie coach Jim Mora.

Steelers 34, Browns 23

PITTSBURGH Ben Roethlisberger, becoming more comfortable and more productive with each start, confused Cleveland (2-3) with his running and creativity and the Steelers won their third in a row behind the rookie quarterback.

Duce Staley complemented Roethlisberger by running for 117 yards, his third consecutive 100-yard game, and scoring on a 25-yard run following rookie Richard Colclough's 59-yard return of the opening kickoff.

Roethlisberger is only the sixth rookie quarterback to win his first three starts since the NFL merger in 1970.

Colts 35, Raiders 14

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Peyton Manning completed 16 of 26 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns, while Edgerrin James ran for 136 yards and a score to lead the Colts to their fourth straight win.

Oakland (2-3) fell to its 12th consecutive road loss.

Manning threw three TDs in the first two quarters, giving him eight in the first half in the Colts' (4-1) two home games this season.

For the second time in four weeks, Oakland's Jerry Rice failed to catch a pass. He holds the NFL record for consecutive games with a reception, 274, a streak that ended earlier this season.

Giants 26, Cowboys 10

IRVING, Texa Five games into the season, the Giants already matched last year's win total.

Tiki Barber ran for 122 yards and a touchdown and Steve Christie kicked four field goals to give the Giants (4-1) their fourth win in a row.

Showing the toughness and discipline demanded by new coach Tom Coughlin, New York overcame a slow start by taking advantage of mistakes by Dallas (2-2) and making some breaks for itself. Coughlin beat his former boss, Cowboys coach Bill Parcells.

Buccaneers 20, Saints 17

NEW ORLEANS The Buccaneers hoped the son of a former Super Bowl quarterback would help them get their first victory. They got their wish.

But it was not Chris Simms, son of 1987 Super Bowl MVP Phil Simms, who led the Bucs (1-4) to their first victory of the season. Simms, making his first NFL start, hurt his throwing shoulder in the first quarter and was replaced by Brian Griese, son of Bob Griese, who played in three Super Bowls.

Griese went 16-of-19 for 194 yards and the decisive touchdown.

It was the second straight week New Orleans (2-3) had lost to a previously winless team. The Cardinals beat the Saints 34-10 last week.

Chargers 34, Jaguars 21

SAN DIEGO The Chargers looked sharp in their powder-blue throwback jerseys and white helmets from the 1960s, and played sharp, too.

Drew Brees, the quarterback the front office didn't want, threw two touchdown passes to Antonio Gates, the tight end who played basketball, not football, at Kent State.

LaDainian Tomlinson's biggest gains came as a receiver, although he did go airborne over the Jaguars' line for a 1-yard touchdown run. He gained 56 yards on 19 carries, and caught four passes for 78 yards.

And it was the Chargers' defense, not Jacksonville's, that played tough, with three takeaways that set up 10 points. Both teams are 3-2.

49ers 31, Cardinals 28, OT

SAN FRANCISCO Tim Rattay threw two touchdown passes and got two 2-point conversions in the final 4:35, and Todd Peterson kicked a 32-yard field goal with 11:37 left in overtime for the 49ers' first victory of the season.

Brandon Lloyd made a diving 23-yard TD catch with 1:07 left in regulation, then wrestled the ball away from two defenders for the tying conversion. Tight end Eric Johnson had career bests of 13 catches for 162 yards and the other late TD for San Francisco (1-4). Arizona also is 1-4.

Broncos 20, Panthers 17

DENVER Backup Reuben Droughns ran for 193 yards for Denver (4-1) and Jake Plummer threw a 39-yard pass to Ashley Lelie for the winning points.

Julius Peppers had a 101-yard interception return for Carolina (1-3), the longest interception return in NFL history to not result in a touchdown. The 283-pound lineman caught it 4 yards deep in his end zone. Jake Delhomme ran for a 3-yard touchdown three plays later.

Plummer threw two touchdowns one with each arm. His second left-handed TD of the season went to Droughns, a fullback-turned-tailback who started in place of the injured Quentin Griffin. He had a career total of 127 yards rushing entering the game.

Ravens 17, Redskins 10

LANDOVER, Md. Ed Reed scored a touchdown on a safety blitz, stopped Clinton Portis on a third-and-1 and sprung B.J. Sams for a 78-yard punt return, all in a 2 1/2-minute span in the third quarter. The Ravens scored 14 points without their struggling offense taking the field.

The Ravens (3-2) held the Redskins (1-4) to 107 yards, sending Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs to his fourth straight defeat, his longest losing streak since starting 0-5 as a rookie head coach in 1981.

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