Moss finally ready for some football

Vikings receiver turns it up in spotlight

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2001

MINNEAPOLIS -- Randy Moss, a no-show for much of the season, finally broke out.

Typically, it was in prime time.

Moss, whose first big game was a Monday nighter as a rookie three years ago, had 10 catches for 171 yards and three touchdowns Monday night, including a 57-yarder with 6:32 left that put away a 28-16 victory over the New York Giants.

It was about time for Moss, who had just 39 catches and three touchdowns entering the game. But as he usually does in nationally televised games, he shined in the spotlight as the Vikings gained a measure of revenge for a 41-0 shellacking by New York in last January's NFC title game.

''I said he'd get 17 touchdowns this year,'' Minnesota coach Dennis Green said. ''This was a good springboard for the second half. Randy was due. When he gets single coverage he's very dangerous.''

Cris Carter, who also had 10 catches, but for just 46 yards, said of Moss:

''I expect him to get big plays in a big game. If we can get Randy the ball, then we're going to do that.''

Moss, who hasn't talked to the media in month, said only:

''Oh, I see how it is. I have a breakout game and everyone wants to talk to me.''

It was a tight and tedious game, with 225 yards in penalties until the Vikings (4-5) went ahead for good with 9:03 left when Daunte Culpepper, who passed for 277 yards and four TDs, threw a 1-yard fourth-down pass to Cris Carter. That made it 21-16 and on the next series, he found Moss over the middle on a third-and-16 play, with Moss splitting the secondary and taking the ball into the end zone for a 57-yard play.

The Minnesota defense also did well on the artificial turf, limiting the Giants to field goals three of the times New York threatened. ''This is a surface where we can show our speed and run,'' Green said.

But that's the problem. This was their fourth win in five games at home but they are 0-4 away from the Metrodome and three games behind Chicago in the NFC Central.

The Giants (5-5) fell 1 1/2 games behind Philadelphia in the NFC East race in large part because they had 15 penalties for 150 yards.

''It's not too late,'' offensive tackle Lomas Brown said. ''We still have a chance to do something good. We look good at times, we look bad at times. That's got to stop.''

Coach Jim Fassel, whose team got to the Super Bowl last season after he guaranteed after 11 games that it would make the playoffs, sort of did it again.

''We're going to go out to win every game left,'' he said. ''We're going to have to and that's the attitude and I'm going to be looking for it.''

But Minnesota also used a lot of short passes -- knowing it probably couldn't run well.

''We were able to mix it up well,'' Carter said. ''We didn't want to get into a lot of third and long with their fierce rush.''

The Vikings led 14-13 at halftime, courtesy of Moss' two TD catches from Culpepper, one of 29 yards on the game's first possession, the other 25 when Moss was all alone after the Giants failed at an all-out blitz.

The first was set up by a 39-yard pass-interference call against Allen on a pass to Moss; the second resulted in a 15-yard taunting penalty against Moss, who took the ball alone, turned around at the 5 and danced backward into the end zone waving the ball.

But the Giants stayed close despite eight penalties for 89 yards in the first half.

They made it 7-3 on Morten Andersen's 43-yard field goal, then took the lead on a 1-yard TD run by Tiki Barber after Barber had taken the ball 29 yards to the Vikings 1.

Andersen added a 37-yard field goal, then hit the crossbar on a 53-yard attempt as the half ended.

Then he kicked a 51-yarder on the first drive of the third quarter to give New York a 16-14 lead.

The Vikings' drive to the go-ahead TD was a tedious affair, 62 yards in 14 plays. Rather than kick a go-ahead field goal on fourth-and-1, Culpepper faked into the line, rolled out and found Carter alone in the left corner of the end zone.

At halftime, the Vikings retired the number of Korey Stringer, who died of heat stroke during training camp.

Notes: This was Culpepper's 24th straight game with a touchdown pass. ... It was Moss' third three-TD game of his career and the first since he was a rookie in 1998. ... Michael Strahan of the Giants was held without a sack for the first time in seven games. He had tied the NFL record with 15 over that period. ... The Giants finished 0-3 in Monday night games this season. ... The Giants' Luke Petitgout and the Vikings' Patrick Chukwurah were thrown out after a scuffle at the goal line late in the game.

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