Moss caught a go-ahead touchdown pass in the third quarter,
Kevin Williams returned Byron Leftwich's fumble 77 yards for the
clinching score and the Vikings beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-16
"His presence is like so humongous for us," teammate Onterrio Smith said. "We were talking about what he was going to wear to
the stadium. That's how fired up Randy was."
His hamstring finally healed, Moss had four receptions -- his
first in six weeks -- for 40 yards after playing the majority of
Minnesota's snaps. He politely declined to comment after the game
with a shake of his head, but everybody else gladly spoke for him.
"To have Randy back, it lifts our spirits a little bit," said
quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who completed 19-of-27 passes for 235
yards, one touchdown and one interception. He scored on a 1-yard
run in the first half but committed what could've been a costly
fumble in the fourth quarter.
Leading 20-16, the Vikings were on their way to another
clock-eating touchdown drive when Culpepper was sacked by Bobby McCray at the Jacksonville 22. The fumble was recovered by Marcus Stroud with 7:46 remaining, and the Jaguars marched to the other
end before Leftwich fumbled away their chance.
Leftwich, kept out of the last two games with a sprained left
knee, was sacked from behind by rookie Kenechi Udeze just before
the two-minute warning on third-and-6 from the 19. The ball popped
out and Williams picked it up on his way to an exhausting touchdown
for the Vikings (7-4).
"If I would've seen him, I would've ducked," said Leftwich,
who went 19-for-34 for 235 yards and one touchdown.
The Jaguars (6-5) lost for the third time in four games and are
suddenly in trouble in the crowded AFC playoff race. They host 10-1
Pittsburgh next Sunday.
"The window is closing," coach Jack Del Rio said. "The only
thing we can control is next week."
Jacksonville's Fred Taylor rushed 22 times for 147 yards, yet
another back giving Minnesota major problems this month. But the
defense made stops when it needed to, and Udeze and Williams -- the
Vikings' last two first-round draft picks -- teamed up on the big
The Vikings offensive line was missing three injured starters
after Dave Dixon sprained his left knee in the first quarter,
making the 16-play, 80-yard drive that chewed up nearly 9½ minutes
of the second half even more impressive. Three Jaguars penalties,
totaling 25 yards, helped Minnesota move the ball.
On third-and-goal at the 2, Moss jumped over the shoulder of
Donovin Darius, snared the ball and dropped both feet down in the
back of the end zone to put Minnesota up 20-13. The crowd went
crazy, Moss acknowledged his fans and exchanged chest bumps with
several teammates on the sideline -- as well as coach Mike Tice.
"That was a heck of a catch," Tice said.
Many quarterbacks would not have dared to throw that pass.
"I always feel like if he can get a hand on it, he's going to
catch it," he said. "I have tremendous confidence in our
receivers and total confidence in 84."
For the first time since he got tangled up with a defender in
the second quarter of the Oct. 17 game at New Orleans and partially
tore his right hamstring, Moss was running around on the field
without a limp.
He made token appearances in each of the next two weeks before
realizing the injury was more serious than he thought and sat out
the subsequent three games.
The Jaguars, whose six victories have come by a total of 22
points, went inside the Vikings' 20 four times and failed to score a
touchdown on each.
"We're frustrated because we feel like we're a better team than
our record," Taylor said, "but if we're going to be that team,
we've got to get it done at the end."
Jacksonville defensive end Rob Meier might have broken his lower leg
on a low block by center Cory Withrow. "He's a terrific role player,"
Del Rio said. "That's a loss." Tight end Kyle Brady had blurred vision
after a third-quarter concussion, but he said it wasn't serious.
... Slumping defensive tackle Chris Hovan was on Minnesota's inactive list, the
first game he's missed in his five-year career. ... Jaguars rookie
Josh Scobee went 3-for-3 on field goals and sent all five of his
kickoffs into the end zone, four for touchbacks.