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Monday, October 18, 2004

Culpepper Shines in Win Over Saints

Author: wire reports

Daunte Culpepper lost his top receiver, but did not miss a step in setting an NFL record.

Culpepper threw five touchdown passes to lead the Minnesota Vikings to a 38-31 victory over the New Orleans Saints. He did it without having Randy Moss for the second half.

It was the third time this season Culpepper threw five TD passes in a game, an NFL record.

Culpepper, despite pressure from the Saints' defense, completed 26 of 37 passes for 425 yards. He threw two interceptions and was sacked twice.

The Vikings had 605 yards of offense.

Rookie running back Mewelde Moore had another big game for Minnesota, rushing for 109 yards and catching seven passes for 78 yards.

Moss, who leads the NFL in TDs receiving, injured his hamstring in the second quarter. He had two receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown. It was the 10th consecutive game in which Moss had a touchdown reception.

Nate Burleson had six receptions for 134 yards for Minnesota (4-1).

Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks completed 22 of 38 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted once.

Deuce McAllister ran for 78 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.

A pass interference call against cornerback Ashley Ambrose set up the Vikings' first touchdown, giving them a first down on the 1-yard line. On the next play Culpepper hit Jermaine Wiggins for the touchdown.

Minnesota, the only NFL team without an interception before the game, prevented a New Orleans touchdown with its first pickoff. Antoine Winfield stepped in front of Ernie Conwell, grabbed the ball and returned it 56 yards.

Three plays later, Culpepper hit Moss in the end zone for a 43-yard touchdown, making it 14-0 less than a minute into the second quarter. But Culpepper fumbled a snap, which rolled downfield until Saints safety Jay Bellamy finally got the ball. He lateraled to Ambrose, who returned it 68 yards to set up New Orleans' first score, a 2-yard run by McAllister that made it 14-7.

Marcus Robinson caught a 16-yard touchdown pass to give the Vikings a 21-7 lead. But the Saints put together their best drive of the half, going 73 yards in four plays, with Brooks connecting with Joe Horn for a 7-yard touchdown.

The Vikings opened the second half with Culpepper capping a 66-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Wiggins for a 28-14 lead.

The Saints then used some trickery. On fourth-and-3 on their 28, they lined up in punt formation, then snapped the ball to blocking back Fred McAfee, who scampered 53 yards to the Minnesota 19. McAllister finished it off with a 1-yard run, making it 28-21.

A 39-yard field goal by Morten Andersen stretched the Vikings' lead to 31-21 at the end of the third quarter. John Carney kicked a 45-yarder to pull New Orleans to 31-24 early in the fourth period.

Culpepper, who lead the NFL with a 126.0 passer rating going into the game, threw his fifth touchdown pass of the night to Robinson, making it 38-24.

Brooks then scrambled 5 yards for a touchdown to pull the Saints within 38-31 with 2:51 left. But Minnesota kept the ball the rest of the way.