8:00 PM ET, August 12, 2005
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Using his fast feet to maneuver around the field, Daunte Culpepper had no trouble finding the right receiver during a sharp opening possession. That's how Minnesota is going to have to move the ball without Randy Moss.Culpepper opened the preseason by guiding an efficient 65-yard touchdown drive, leading the Vikings to a 27-16 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night.Completing his first five passes, each to a different receiver, Culpepper found new No. 1 target Nate Burleson for a 33-yard score to cap a drive that lasted only 3 minutes, 8 seconds. Culpepper finished 5-for-6 for 84 yards."Going back to my college days, I've always liked to do that," said Culpepper, who lost the mercurial Moss in an offseason trade to Oakland. "I always throw the ball to different guys. It makes everybody more effective. It makes defenses cover everybody."Kansas City's Priest Holmes, whose damaged right knee cost him eight games last season, played only seven snaps. He looked sharp, rushing four times for 42 yards. Backup Larry Johnson, who will share more of the load this year, carried eight times for 37 yards."I followed my reads pretty good, and we have a pretty good offensive line," Holmes said, estimating his health at 75 to 80 percent. "I wouldn't give us too high a grade, but I feel like we had some rhythm."Marc Boerigter, returning from a knee injury that kept him out all of last season, caught two passes for 28 yards. Fourth-string quarterback James Kilian leaped into the end zone to finish a 3-yard run with 29 seconds left, giving the Chiefs their first touchdown.Kansas City, like Minnesota, made a significant attempt to upgrade a lagging defense during the offseason. Though two of the newcomers -- linebacker Kendrell Bell and defensive end Carlos Hall -- missed this game because of injuries, the first-stringers played into the second quarter and gave up two TDs.Part of the problem was the way Culpepper moved around."There were less mistakes and a lot of progress going on with the whole defense," said rookie linebacker Derrick Johnson. "I didn't know Culpepper was as big as he is. I was able to chase him out of the pocket, but he made a lot of good throws and got around people. That's going to happen."The Vikings, missing new cornerback Fred Smoot to a sore right knee, experienced mixed results from their revamped defense -- with the starters playing most of the first half. Holmes and Johnson each ripped off a few clean runs and several receivers were left wide open, but they did come through when it counted.Kenechi Udeze stuffed Johnson in the backfield on third-and-goal at the 1, forcing Lawrence Tynes to kick a 19-yard field goal that concluded the Chiefs' second possession.Coach Mike Tice thought his front seven wore down and struggled to get off their blocks."It was average," said new nose tackle Pat Williams. "We can get a whole lot better. Once we get four games under our belt, we'll be right where we want to be."Tynes, coming off an up-and-down rookie season, missed a 38-yarder but made his three other kicks -- including a 51-yarder in the third quarter that cut the lead to 20-9."He missed a field goal, then he had a bad kickoff," coach Dick Vermeil said. "Kicking the ball out of bounds and starting at the 40-yard line -- that's junior-high football."Another special-teamer under the spotlight in Kansas City is rookie punter Dustin Colquitt, whose first two kicks went for 31 and 34 yards. The Chiefs went through three punters last season, stumbling to a league-worst 34.0-yard net average.Special teams are getting significant attention in Minnesota this summer, too. Aaron Elling and Paul Edinger, fighting for the kicker job, each made their only field-goal attempt. After Mewelde Moore returned a kickoff 43 yards in the first quarter, Tice exuberantly offered his congratulations on the sideline.Brad Johnson -- appearing with the Vikings for the first time since 1998 -- relieved Culpepper and threw a 7-yard scoring pass to Moore that made it 14-3 Minnesota. The second-year backup to Michael Bennett, Moore also rushed for 62 yards on five carries.Ryan Hoag had five receptions for 63 yards for the Vikings. Rookie Ciatrick Fason, who scored on a 1-yard touchdown plunge in the fourth quarter that made it 27-9, rushed seven times for 55 yards.Most importantly, both teams emerged without any new injuries."There were some encouraging things, and we'll just be able to build on that," Tice said.
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