Final

Titans 3

(2-5, 2-2 away)

Vikings 20

(5-1, 3-0 home)

1:00 PM ET, October 24, 2004

 

1 2 3 4 T
TEN 3 0 0 03
MIN 3 14 0 320

Culpepper pitches enough to rumble Titans

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Even with Minnesota's Randy Moss relegated to two snaps of decoy duty, Tennessee still made sure to take away the deep ball.

So Daunte Culpepper and the Vikings shifted gears and ground one out against the struggling Titans.

Allen's Analysis

Eric Allen

Titans at Vikings: How are the Vikings thriving with Moss sidelined and a fourth-string RB starting?

It's important to understand that the Vikings have found their stride offensively. WRs Marcus Robinson and Nate Burleson have done a great job filling in and providing Daunte Culpepper with options and today they stepped up and made some plays. The Vikings do a great job keeping teams off-balance with their offensive balance and play calling. It's extremely difficult for a defense to try to keep up with an offense when they don't know what play is coming.

RB Mewelde Moore is a great example of that balance because he does a great job running the ball and catching it out of the backfield. It seems the Vikings can put anybody in the backfield and have them be successful because people are so worried about the pass. Also, the offensive line has a tradition of being a great pass blocking team, but they are also quite adept at run blocking.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders. He's a regular contributor to Insider.

Culpepper completed 24 of 30 mostly low-risk passes, and an aggressive defense knocked Titans quarterback Steve McNair out of the game in a 20-3 victory on Sunday.

"We did what we had to do," Culpepper said. "We move the chains when we have to move the chains."

After throwing 10 touchdowns the last two weeks, Culpepper finished with 183 yards and one score to Marcus Robinson just before halftime. Rookie Mewelde Moore rushed for 138 yards on 20 carries, and the defense yielded its lowest points total in 98 games since a 24-3 victory over Cincinnati on Nov. 15, 1998.

Moss extended his consecutive games streak to 102 with a token start, but his strained right hamstring kept him out of Minnesota's plans and he went without a catch for the first time in his seven-year career.

"We knew kind of going in that we were going to be bright with it," coach Mike Tice said. "If we were able to move the ball, we were going to hold him out."

The All-Pro receiver didn't come out for the second half. Although the only two routes he ran weren't long, the Vikings (5-1) said Moss aggravated the injury.

"It was never un-aggravated," Tice said.

The Titans made the same announcement about McNair, who hurt his chest -- again -- on the first play of the second quarter.

After going 2-for-5 for 2 yards, McNair threw an incomplete pass and was brought down hard by a strong Minnesota rush. After lying on the turf for a few minutes, he grimaced as he walked slowly off the field.

"Being the leader of this football team and not being able to go out there and get the job done is very frustrating," McNair said.

Billy Volek was an unsuccessful substitute for McNair, going 17-for-36 for 190 yards and three interceptions.

With Tennessee trailing 17-3, Volek firmly directed the opening drive of the second half, looking often to Derrick Mason, who finished with eight receptions for 85 yards.

But on second-and-goal at the 5, Volek threw over the middle and was intercepted by linebacker Raonall Smith, the replacement for injured starter Chris Claiborne.

"I shot us in the foot," Volek said. "I've made that play 100 times."

With the Vikings leading 20-3 early in the fourth quarter, Volek went 0-for-5 on a drive that ended in a punt. The Titans did pick up a first down by passing on that possession, but only when Craig Hentrich faked a punt and completed a 6-yard toss to Eddie Berlin.

Volek went 3-for-14 for 36 yards and one INT in the fourth period.

"This game kind of sums up our season," coach Jeff Fisher said. "We've got no place to go now, other than to the classroom and back to the practice field and keep working."

Chris Brown, who hurt his shoulder in last week's game against Houston, rushed four times for 31 yards on Tennessee's first drive, but he carried only 10 times after that and finished with 55 yards. The last-place Titans (2-5) were whistled for 12 penalties, seven in the first half.

"We're like 53 guys nailed up in a little box with no room to move," Mason said, "and each guy's got to grab a hammer and start pounding to get us out."

Though he forced a couple of long throws, Culpepper didn't turn over the ball and showed remarkable patience. He just let Moore wiggle his way through the line and watched Robinson, Nate Burleson and Kelly Campbell find seams in a Tennessee defense that applied plenty of pressure and made sure to take away the deep ball, even without Moss in the game.

Seven players caught passes, but nobody had more than 53 yards receiving.

"Really, you can't replace a guy like Moss," Burleson said. "You've just got to use the guys that you have to make plays."

Game notes


The NFL's top two career scorers accounted for all the points in the first quarter. Tennessee's 45-year-old Gary Anderson made a 40-yard field goal, and 44-year-old Morten Andersen tied the game at 3 with a 29-yarder for Minnesota. ... Anderson, who kicked for the Vikings from 1998-2002, leads the league with 2,381 points. Andersen is second with 2,339. ... Titans defensive ends Antwan Odom (chest) and Carlos Hall (knee) were injured. ... Moore set a team record with 610 total yards over his last three games, breaking Chuck Foreman's three-game mark of 573 in 1976.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Scoring Summary

SECOND QUARTERTENMIN
minTD11:39Moe Williams, 1 yd run
Drive info: 5 plays, 66 yds, 3:04
39
FIRST QUARTERTENMIN
tenFG9:01Gary Anderson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 28 yds, 4:07
30
SECOND QUARTERTENMIN
min11:34
Drive info: 5 plays, 66 yds, 3:04
310
FOURTH QUARTERTENMIN
minFG10:21Morten Andersen 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 72 yds, 4:39
320
SECOND QUARTERTENMIN
minTD0:56Touchdown
Drive info: 10 plays, 50 yds, 4:16
316
min0:56
Drive info: 10 plays, 50 yds, 4:16
317
FIRST QUARTERTENMIN
minFG1:18Morten Andersen 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 13 plays, 66 yds, 6:55
33