Final

Vikings 23

(3-0, 2-0 away)

Lions 13

(1-2, 1-1 home)

1:00 PM ET, September 21, 2003

 

1 2 3 4 T
MIN 0 16 7 023
DET 10 0 3 013

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 Minneapolis.

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 Francisco.

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

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 receiving.

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 quarter.

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Scoring Summary

SECOND QUARTERMINDET
minTD12:10Daunte Culpepper, 14 yd run
Drive info: 3 plays, 36 yds, 0:49
610
minTD5:11Daunte Culpepper, 2 yd run
Drive info: 6 plays, 98 yds, 2:37
1210
THIRD QUARTERMINDET
minTD7:52Touchdown
Drive info: 6 plays, 85 yds, 1:43
2213
SECOND QUARTERMINDET
min5:11
Drive info: 6 plays, 98 yds, 2:37
1310
minFG0:08Aaron Elling 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 6 plays, 77 yds, 0:35
1610
THIRD QUARTERMINDET
min7:52
Drive info: 6 plays, 85 yds, 1:43
2313
FIRST QUARTERMINDET
detFG0:55Jason Hanson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 16 yds, 1:59
010
detTD11:12Shawn Bryson, 5 yd run
Drive info: 7 plays, 59 yds, 3:42
06
det11:12
Drive info: 7 plays, 59 yds, 3:42
07
THIRD QUARTERMINDET
detFG10:46Jason Hanson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 8 plays, 39 yds, 3:34
1613