Vikings win sixth straight over two seasons

DETROIT (AP) -- Gus Frerotte had one thought when he replaced the
injured Daunte Culpepper as Minnesota's quarterback.

"I just tried not to screw up," the 32-year-old veteran said.

He didn't.

Frerotte threw for 184 yards and a touchdown in relief of
Culpepper as the Vikings beat the Detroit Lions 23-13 on Sunday.

Culpepper left late in the second quarter with a bruised back
after his second rushing TD gave the Vikings the lead for good. He
was scheduled to have his back examined Sunday night in

Culpepper said he was in too much pain to return to the game
Sunday, but expects to play in Week 4 at home against San

"Do I look hurt?" Culpepper asked as he limped away from
Minnesota's locker room. "I thought I looked cool, like Fred

Minnesota (3-0), with three wins in the NFC North, is off to its
best start since winning seven games to start the 2000 season. The
last two years, the Vikings were a combined 11-21.

"I think it's big because we've been on the low end of the
stick," said Randy Moss, who caught three passes for 85 yards
despite back spasms. "Being 3-0 in the division gives us the
confidence that we can be a playoff team. We're not cocky about
being 3-0, but we're confident all the hard work we put into the
offseason is paying off."

The Lions (1-2) have lost to Minnesota and Green Bay since
beating Arizona in the opener. They face tough games at Denver and
San Francisco the next two weeks.

"This team is learning that we can beat a team like Arizona
that is trying to improve, just like us, but now we are in a
stretch of playing four playoff-contending teams in a row,"
Detroit coach Steve Mariucci said.

Minnesota outscored Detroit 23-3 after trailing 10-0 late in the
first quarter.

Corey Chavous intercepted a poorly thrown pass from Joey
Harrington in the end zone with 4:52 left. With just under two
minutes left, the Lions were unable to score on two plays from
Minnesota's 1 and two plays from its 2.

Culpepper didn't return after linebacker Wali Rainer hit him in
the end zone on his 2-yard run that put the Vikings ahead -- for
good -- 13-10 late in the second quarter. Culpepper was 7-of-13 for
105 yards.

"I guess it's part of the game, but I thought he could've
pulled up when he saw I was in the end zone," said Culpepper,
who's 6-0 against Detroit as a starter.

When Culpepper returned in the third quarter with a gray T-shirt
and football pants on, the Vikings didn't need him to stay
unbeaten. Frerotte, who has played for five teams including the
Lions, was 8-of-19 with one interception to go along with his TD.

Minnesota's Moe Williams had 95 yards rushing and 54 yards

Culpepper's first rushing TD -- the 23rd of his career -- moved
him past Fran Tarkenton for the most by a Vikings quarterback and
pulled Minnesota within four early in the second quarter.

Harrington injured his right index finger in the second quarter
when he hit center Dominic Raiola's helmet after throwing a pass.
Harrington played the second half with his index and middle fingers
taped together on his throwing hand. He was 24-of-42 for 235 yards
with three interceptions.

"Part of my index finger went one way and part went another,"
Harrington said. "But I felt like I actually threw the ball better
in the second half, so I might need to dislocate it more often."

Three big plays helped the Vikings win: Williams ran 61 yards
from Minnesota's 3 to set up Culpepper's go-ahead score; Frerotte
threw a 72-yard pass to Moss to set up Aaron Elling's 21-yard field
goal just before halftime; and Frerotte's second 72-yard pass -- to
Kelly Campbell -- gave the Vikings a 23-13 lead in the third.

"We didn't panic when Gus came in," Campbell said. "We knew
we wouldn't miss a beat because he's a good quarterback."

Detroit finished poorly after a strong start.

On the opening drive, Harrington ran for a career-long 15 yards
to set up Shawn Bryson's 5-yard TD run. Jason Hanson's 27-yard kick
gave Detroit a 10-0 lead with 52 seconds left in the second

Game notes
Detroit's Eddie Drummond (sprained ankle), Andre Goodman
(dislocated shoulder), Ray Brown (chest) and Shawn Jefferson (ribs)
left with injuries. ... Minnesota's Billy Lyon left with a strained
calf. ... Detroit's Charles Rogers caught six passes for 54 yards.


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