Vikings fly past rival Packers to stay in NFC Central race
Posted: Tuesday December 21, 1999 03:48 PM
Nothing came easy for Minnesota's Randy Moss in the victory, as he makes the catch over Green Bay's Mike McKenzie . AP
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Cris Carter wasn't needed after all.
Carter kept his starting streak alive despite a severely sprained right ankle, but his services weren't needed because Randy Moss was all over the field.
Moss caught five passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns as the Minnesota Vikings outlasted the Green Bay Packers 24-20 Monday night.
Moss also atoned for his fumbled punt that led to a Green Bay touchdown by hauling in a 36-yard pass from Jeff George that set up Leroy Hoard's 1-yard run for the winning score with nine minutes left.
"Randy Moss ... made a big difference in what happened to our football team," Packers coach Ray Rhodes said.
The Vikings (8-6) snapped a two-game skid and moved within a game of NFC Central leader Tampa Bay. The Packers fell to 7-7, tied with the New York Giants, Dallas and Carolina in the wild-card logjam.
The Packers had one last chance after Minnesota turned the ball over on downs at the Green Bay 22 with 45 seconds left. The Packers drove to the Minnesota 27, before Brett Favre was intercepted by Robert Griffith in the end zone on the final play.
"With the game tight like that, he's the last guy you want to see have the ball," Griffith said.
Favre had beaten the Vikings in the closing seconds earlier this season, when he hit Corey Bradford with a 23-yard TD toss on fourth down at Lambeau Field in September.
George's two touchdown tosses to Moss and the longest scramble of his 10-year career staked the Vikings to a 17-13 lead after three quarters.
But rookie Basil Mitchell, who forced two fumbles that led to 10 points, jarred the ball loose from Moss on a punt return and Tod McBride recovered for Green Bay at the Vikings' 37.
The Vikings appeared to stop the Packers at the 9, and Ryan Longwell came in for his third chip-shot field goal. But holder Matt Hasselbeck, Favre's backup, threw a touchdown strike to tight end Jeff Thomason for a 20-17 lead with 12:31 remaining.
Carter extended his starting streak to 111 games despite a severely sprained right ankle that had him in a cast all week. But he was no factor, playing just a few snaps in the first quarter and not getting any balls thrown his way.
"If I could go, I would have went," Carter said.
Vikings coach Dennis Green said before kickoff he expected Carter to be more than a decoy. Instead, all Carter did was keep his streak alive.
"The only factor really is that the trainer says he might be able to go and if Cris says he wants to go," Green said. "You can accommodate any player on your team if he means enough to you, and Cris means enough to us."
The Packers led 13-10 at halftime on the strength of Dorsey Levens' 1-yard run and two field goals by Longwell. Levens returned to the lineup after missing two games with a cracked rib and gained 99 yards on 26 carries.
But the Vikings converted three third downs on their way to the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, including a 17-yard scramble by George to the Green Bay 42, George's longest run ever.
After Levens bullied in from the 1 for a 7-3 Packers lead, Robert Tate fumbled the ensuing kickoff and rookie De'Mond Parker recovered for Green Bay at the Minnesota 23, leading to Longwell's 26-yarder and a 10-3 lead.
The Vikings tied it on Moss's 57-yard touchdown catch with 4:17 left in the half. George had a great play fake to Leroy Hoard, then hit Moss, who blew past Tyrone Williams, in stride at the 25.
Tate, a converted receiver forced into playing nickel cornerback when rookie Chris Rogers severely pulled a hamstring in warmups, also had a 15-yard face mask penalty, but he saved a touchdown when he tackled William Henderson at the 3, forcing Longwell to try a 22-yarder, which he made with three seconds left in the half.
Gary Anderson, who had scuffed through a 10-miss season one year after becoming the first perfect kicker in NFL history, nailed a 43-yarder for a 3-0 Minnesota lead. Anderson had been 0-for-6 from 41 yards and out.
The archrivals fancied themselves as the NFC's best four months ago but are now scrambling just to make the playoffs. But both showed a spark on defense Monday night that they'd been lacking all season.
All week, it was thought that the loser between the two underachievers would miss out on the postseason party, but five other NFC playoff contenders lost Sunday, leaving the logjam in place.
"We've never been discouraged," Green said.
Packers wide receiver Antonio Freeman couldn't believe the Pack had blown yet another chance.
"This has been a redundant thing for us to say: we had opportunities," Freeman said. "We could have done this, should have done that, we practice all week and then go out there ... and just don't get it done."
Notes: Moss set a team record with his sixth 100-yard receiving game. ... The piped-in music at the Metrodome was louder than it had been all season, especially in the final five minutes. ... Chris Doleman extended his Vikings record with his 33rd forced fumble.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Copyright © 2000|
An AOL Time Warner Company.
All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.