9:00 PM ET, September 2, 2005
SEATTLE (AP) -- Daunte Culpepper gave coach Mike Tice just what he desired Friday night: one quarter of production from the Minnesota offense.Culpepper led the Vikings on two long drives in the first quarter, the second resulting in a 1-yard touchdown plunge by the big quarterback, as the Vikings beat the Seattle Seahawks 23-21.Paul Edinger knuckled through a 35-yard field goal on the last play of the game, after backup quarterback Shaun Hill completed a 44-yard pass to Ryan Hoag on fourth-and-16 with 1:27 left. Edinger also had field goals of 43 and 48 yards for Minnesota (3-1).On the final kick, Edinger initially lined up too close to center, before repositioning himself for the attempt."It wasn't a pretty kick ... I couldn't tell if it went in, under, over the bar, but it went through," Tice said. "There have been prettier kicks missed."Rookie Marquis Weeks scored on a 1-yard run with 11:28 left to put Seattle (2-2) ahead 21-17. Reserve fullback Leonard Weaver had a 31-yard TD run in the third quarter for the Seahawks.Minnesota rookie Butchie Wallace had a 3-yard TD run on the second play of the fourth quarter."It was an ugly game, won by some ugly performances, but we did come out on top," Tice said.Tice considered not playing his starters against Seattle. But when San Diego pulled its starting defense early in last week's game, Tice determined the Vikings' first-unit needed more time against a No. 1 defense.On the opening drive, Culpepper completed four of his first five passes. He had the Vikings on the cusp of scoring when Seattle cornerback Kelly Herndon fought off receiver Nate Burleson and made a one-handed interception at the Seattle 8-yard line.The Vikings scored on their next possession, Culpepper directing a 63-yard drive that took up 5:34. He completed passes to four receivers, including a 35-yarder to Marcus Robinson on third-and-22 to Seattle's 3. Robinson beat the coverage of cornerback Marcus Trufant on the slant route.Culpepper scored three plays later."Without the turnover it would have been perfect," Culpepper said. "One thing I'm really excited about that we did, is we came back the next drive and put seven on the board. We're really happy about that for the first offense."The Vikings controlled the ball for 11:51 of the quarter, made nine first downs and were 4-for-4 on third-down conversions. Culpepper finished 8-of-11 for 93 yards, a performance even more impressive with the Vikings' lack of a running game.Minnesota played without its top two backs, Michael Bennett (sore neck) and Mewelde Moore (sprained left ankle). Rookie Ciatrick Fason started, but managed just 12 yards rushing on eight carries.Tice knows there's plenty of improvement needed before the season opener against Tampa Bay."We moved the ball well all preseason, but we've shot ourselves in the foot, too," Tice said. "We're not playing our best football right now, and I don't want us to play our best right now."Meanwhile, Seattle coach Mike Holmgren needed just one series to determine his offense was ready for the regular season.The Seahawks needed just over two minutes to drive 83 yards and score. Matt Hasselbeck was sharp, completing all three of his passes for 60 yards and a gaudy passer rating of 158.3. He split the defense of Sam Cowart and Corey Chavous, finding tight end Jerramy Stevens on a 24-yard touchdown pass."I was telling someone that this was the best I felt before a game," Hasselbeck said. "Tonight was great. I'm happy that the drive went so well."After the first quarter, it was up to reserves battling for spots when the final roster cuts are made on Saturday, but the play was mostly sloppy. The teams combined for 22 penalties, and Seattle's Josh Brown had a 31-yard field goal attempt blocked by Will Hunter late in the first half.Still, Holmgren saw some positives in the loss."It would have been nice to win ... but there were some good things to come out of it," he said. "All in all, I think the preseason was a good one. I think we learned some things."Minnesota defensive lineman Spencer Johnson played well with four tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery. Weeks and Weaver also were strong, combining for 120 yards rushing on 24 carries.Seattle played without reserve safety Terreal Bierria. Holmgren said Bierria showed up before the game in tears, concerned about family who live in the New Orleans' area."He came up to me at the pregame meal in tears and said there was no way he could play tonight," Holmgren said.Newly acquired receiver Peter Warrick returned punts for Seattle, but played sparingly on offense.
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