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Culpepper: 396 yards passing, 5 TOs

11/17/2003

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Rick Mirer's acrobatic leap toward the
end zone landed him 2 yards short of the goal line. The important
thing was he kept the ball in his hands -- something counterpart
Daunte Culpepper failed to do all day.

Question on the Vikings: Why has Culpepper reverted to his old bad habits?
Culpepper seems to be pressing and he doesn't look comfortable at all. Earlier this season, he seemed to be in much more command of the offense, but adversity can make players come out of their shells. And that seems to be what's happening to him. Even though he has arguably the best receiver in the game at his disposal, he must become familiar with his other weapons in tight situations.

Question on the Raiders: Will this win make things a lot better in the locker room this week?
Any time a team is able to get an unexpected win against a good team the locker room, tension will be eased. This win will breed confidence because they were firing on all cylinders today. The running game was back and reminiscent of last year's display, and their defense played extremely well. They were able to take Randy Moss and stop him from dominating their team with spectacular play from Charles Woodson and Philip Buchanon.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

The mistake-prone Minnesota Vikings sure made it easy for the
Oakland Raiders to forget all their off-field problems, at least
for an afternoon.

Mirer, Oakland's third-string quarterback, calmly directed the
Raiders' inconsistent offense and Phillip Buchanon scored on a
64-yard interception return 49 seconds into the game in a 28-18
victory Sunday. It was their best win of the season and first since
Sept. 28, ending a five-game losing streak and sending the Vikings
to their fourth straight defeat.

Mirer insisted he wasn't aching after going airborne.

"I'm feeling good from the win," a relieved Mirer said. "If
we lost, it would have hurt. I don't think I've ever done that. It
was a new one."

It led to a touchdown, too.

Culpepper passed for 396 yards and a touchdown and ran for
another score. But his mistakes far outweighed his contributions as
Minnesota (6-4) lost for the second straight week in California to
a team with a losing record.

With two fumbles and three interceptions, he had five of his
team's six turnovers after Minnesota came into the game with only
nine giveaways all season. Aaron Elling also missed two field
goals.

"I don't see us falling apart," Culpepper said. "We will be a
playoff team. That's what it's all about. You've got to put a
little fire under you in this situation, and that's in me."

Buchanon, who scored a touchdown for the second straight week,
also had a drive-killing interception in the end zone.

The Vikings pulled within a field goal when Kelly Campbell
scored on a 29-yard TD catch with 8:32 left and Hunter Goodwin made
a 2-point conversion catch.

The Raiders had a chance to seal the victory on a fourth-and-1
from the Minnesota 4, but franchise receiving leader Tim Brown let
the ball slip through his hands while wide open in the end zone
with 3:06 left.

"I was really being a jerk on the sidelines to the coaches,"
Brown admitted. "I was being un-Tim Brown like.

"Sometimes you've got a funny way of being brought down to
earth. God don't like ugly."

Culpepper then threw three straight terrible passes, and the
third was intercepted by Rod Woodson with 2:46 left.

Moments later, Mirer, making his second straight start after not
throwing a pass since 2000, capped a gutsy performance with the
high-flying act. That set up Zack Crockett's second short touchdown
run.

Tyrone Wheatley had 109 yards rushing and a score while starter
Charlie Garner sat out with a bruised tailbone.

On a day when reports claimed four Raiders would face four-game
suspensions for testing positive for the designer steroid THG,
Oakland (3-7) managed to stay out of big trouble on the field.

Rich Gannon, last season's NFL MVP, watched from the sideline
with a sling over his surgically repaired right shoulder. Backup
Marques Tuiasosopo also is out for the season.

The Vikings solidly outgained Oakland while holding the ball for
more than 18 minutes in the first half, but Culpepper essentially
handed 14 points to the Raiders.

After his badly underthrown pass was returned by Buchanon for a
score, he foolishly failed to protect the ball while getting sacked
near the Vikings' goal line midway through the second quarter.
Oakland recovered at the 1, and Crockett then scored.

Culpepper had thrown just three interceptions in his first 204
passes, and the Vikings had lost just four fumbles all year.

The Vikings mounted another long drive early in the fourth
quarter, but Culpepper slipped at the Oakland 14 and appeared to
push the ball away in disgust. The problem was he hadn't been
touched yet, and the Raiders got the ball.

"We haven't really turned the ball over all season, and today
they came in droves," Vikings coach Mike Tice said. "It's been a
rough four weeks. We worked diligently to try to find an answer.
The guys worked diligently and played hard. This turnover thing was
a new one. Now we've got to get off of that."

Game notes
Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis, the NL Rookie of the
Year, attended the game wearing a vintage Howie Long jersey. Willis
is an Oakland native. ... WR Jerry Rice extended his NFL record
with a reception in his 267th straight game, though his only catch
was a 20-yarder in the fourth quarter. ... Wheatley has carried 55
times the last two games. ... Randy Moss had four catches for 25
yards, none in the second half.