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NFL SCOREBOARD: Preview
Recap | Box Score | This Week's Scoreboard
New Orleans at Minnesota
Posted: Saturday January 06, 2001 11:58 AM
New Orleans Saints
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Minnesota Vikings
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MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper had an extra week to rest a sprained ankle, but the New Orleans Saints do not want to hear about injuries.

Culpepper aggravated a high ankle sprain in the first half of Minnesota's season-ending loss at Indianapolis, but will start to start on Saturday when the Vikings host the Saints in the NFC divisional playoffs.

In his first year as a starter, Culpepper passed for 3,937 yards and 33 touchdowns, tying him with Peyton Manning for the league lead.

Without starting quarterback Jeff Blake and 1,000-yard rusher Ricky Williams, the Saints knocked off the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams, 31-28 last week in the wild card round for the first playoff win in the 34-year history of the franchise.

Of course, the Saints had to weather another injury, losing star receiver Joe Horn in the first quarter with a sprained ankle. The team's leading receiver with 94 catches for 1,340 yards, Horn will miss Saturday's game.

However, Williams, who missed the last six regular season games and last week's playoff contest with a broken ankle, will return on Saturday, but not as a starter.

Aaron Brooks, who replaced Blake and led the Saints to the NFC West title, passed for four touchdowns in his first playoff start. Willie Jackson moved into the role of feature receiver and caught three of those scoring passes for 10, 49 and 16 yards. Robert Wilson replaced the injured Horn and chipped in with a 12-yard touchdown.

"Their depth has been tested and they passed the test or they wouldn't be here," Vikings coach Dennis Green said.

The defense, led by Pro Bowlers La'Roi Glover, Joe Johnson and Keith Mitchell, contained the Rams for 3 1/2 quarters, holding Marshall Faulk to 24 yards on 14 carries and forcing four turnovers by quarterback Kurt Warner.

After the Rams scored on their first possession, they did not cross midfield again until they were down, 31-7 with under 12 minutes left. New Orleans held on for dear life as the Rams scored three touchdowns in a seven-minute span to pull within 31-28.

"I think the Rams are the best team in the NFC," Saints coach Jim Haslett said. "We beat them. I don't know why we can't go and do what we've got to do."

But on Saturday, the Saints must contend with Culpepper and fellow Pro Bowlers Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Robert Smith.

Moss caught 77 passes for 1,437 yards, and 18.7-yard average, and 15 touchdowns. Carter had 96 receptions for 1,274 yards and nine scores. Smith led the NFC with 1,521 rushing yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry.

The Saints are especially strong on the road, winning seven of eight games. But the Vikings had won 13 straight games at the Metrodome before a 33-28 loss to Green Bay on December 17.

But if the Vikings hope to reach the NFC championship game for the second time in three seasons, they will need better play from their defense.

In their season-ending three-game losing streak against the likes of St. Louis, Green Bay and Indianapolis, the Vikings allowed a total of 104 points and ranked 28th in the league this season.

Saints tight end Andrew Glover and receiver Jake Reed are former Vikings. Reed was cut by the Vikings after spending nine seasons with the team.

The Vikings won the only playoff meeting, 44-10 in a wild card game at New Orleans in January 1988.

Minnesota leads the series, 15-6, winning the last three meetings.

Injury Report
New Orleans Saints
CB Fred Weary Knee I-R.
LB Corey Terry Knee I-R.
LB Charlie Clemons Calf I-R.
DL Marques Douglas Knee I-R.
DB Steve Gleason KneeProbable Sat. vs Min.
QB Aaron Brooks ToeWill start Sat. vs Min.
RB Ricky Williams LegWill not start but, is expected to play.
RB Terrelle Smith BackOut Sat. vs Min.
WR Keith Poole ConcussionQuestionable
WR Joe Horn AnkleOut Sat. vs Min.
WR Robert Wilson Thumb Probable Sat. vs Min.
Minnesota Vikings
LB Craig Sauer Foot I-R.
DL Michael Boireau Hand I-R.
DE Gabe Northern HamstringOut Sat. vs Nor.
LB Kailee Wong QuadricepProbable Sat. vs Nor.
OT Korey Stringer KneeProbable Sat. vs Nor.
P Mitch Berger GroinProbable Sat. vs Nor.
QB Daunte Culpepper AnkleProbable Sat. vs Nor.
RB Moe Williams BackProbable Sat. vs Nor.
TE Johnny McWilliams GroinProbable Sat. vs Nor.
WR Randy Moss Back Probable Sat. vs Nor.

 

   
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