Work in Sports
King for a day
Bucs dominate Vikings on career day for second-year QB
Updated: Monday October 30, 2000 10:08 AM
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The NFL's last unbeaten team went down without a whimper.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended Minnesota's bid to remain perfect Sunday, routing the Vikings 41-13 to stop their longest losing streak since 1996 and maybe save a season of great expectations.
"It's been so long since we've had a win ... It cures so many things," safety John Lynch said. "I don't care what you say, when you've lost four straight, the confidence sags a little."
It was the second time in three years Minnesota brought a 7-0 record to Raymond James Stadium only to leave with a loss. But the Vikings didn't hang their heads.
"We're 7-1. We're not discouraged at all. We're disappointed," head coach Dennis Green said. "It's not the first time any of us has lost. That's part of the game. You don't like it. Everybody would love to be undefeated, but it didn't work out that way."
Playing with renewed vigor on defense and breaking out of a month-long offensive funk, the Bucs (4-4) scored on their first five possessions and shut down the high-scoring Vikings to win for the first time since beating Detroit to go 3-0.
The victory ended Tampa Bay's longest losing streak since it started 0-5 in 1996, Tony Dungy's first season as head coach. The Bucs beat Minnesota to stop that skid and are 5-5 against the Vikings under Dungy.
"Tony made a statement to us [Saturday night]. We've played them evenly for a long time and they just don't have any respect for us. They really feel like they're that much of a better ball club than us," defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "Tony said he's looked at a lot of film over the years and there's no way you can convince him that that team is better than us. He told to envision yourself being the one making the play ... I think we all took that to heart."
Sapp sacked Culpepper, forcing a fumble that set up Tampa Bay's first touchdown. The defense, overworked during the team's losing streak because the offense couldn't move the ball, also had two interceptions and added two sacks to a league-leading total of 37.
Johnson finished with six receptions for 121 yards, including a 9-yard TD catch in the first quarter. King, who was 16-of-23 for 261 yards and no interceptions, also threw scoring passes of 23 yards to Warrick Dunn, 20 to Dave Moore and 16 to Reidel Anthony.
The Vikings, winners of 10 consecutive regular-season games dating back to last December, were limited to Randy Moss' 7-yard touchdown catch and two field goals by Gary Anderson, all in the first half when the Bucs controlled the ball for nearly 22 minutes.
King threw 74 passes in losses to the Vikings and Detroit Lions in the previous two games, raising questions about depending on the second-year quarterback. But it was the defense and King's pinpoint passing that set the tone Sunday.
The Bucs scored on all four of their first-half possessions and on Brooks' interception return to build a 31-13 lead. It could have been worse for the Vikings if not for a successful replay challenge.
Sapp, the 1999 defensive player of the year, stripped the ball from Culpepper, fell on it on the ground and then got up and lumbered 37 yards to Minnesota 8, where Culpepper wrestled down the 303-pound tackle.
The Vikings, trailing 14-3 at the time, challenged, contending Culpepper's arm was moving forward. Referee Phil Luckett ruled it an incomplete pass and Minnesota retained possession at the Bucs 48.
Eight plays later, Moss leaped and stretched at an awkward angle to make a one-handed catch over Ronde Barber. That finished a 13-play, 82-yard march accounting for nearly seven minutes of the 8:07 Minnesota had the ball in the half.
The Bucs held the ball for the first 8:35 of the third quarter and scored on Martin Gramatica's 26-yard field goal. The game's first punt, by the Vikings, occurred five minutes later.
"They were a hungry team, but it's not about them," Minnesota's Robert Smith said. "I still think we're a better team than they are. We just didn't play up to their level today."
Notes: Tampa Bay didn't punt for the first time since beating the Vikings 27-24 on Nov. 1, 1998. It was Minnesota's only regular-season loss that year ... Tampa Bay tied a team record with 31 points in the first half ... The Bucs didn't fumble or throw an interception after having 13 turnovers during the losing streak ... Culpepper finished 29 of 53 for 313 yards.