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THE 1996 NFL

Vikings Can Only Come Back to Reality After Losing to Giants

September 30, 1996|From Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Minnesota Vikings went to the fourth quarter trailing once too often and it finally cost them.

New York Giant tight end Aaron Pierce scored on a one-yard run, Brad Daluiso kicked three field goals, and the defense set up the go-ahead score in knocking the Vikings from the unbeaten ranks, 15-10, Sunday.

"It wasn't a fluke," Giant Coach Dan Reeves said. "We went out there and executed. Playing a 1-3 team, maybe they weren't as fired up as they should have been and maybe we caught them at the right time. But there wasn't anything fluky about it."

The Vikings (4-1) seemingly were ripe to be upset after getting off to their best start since winning 10 in a row in 1975. Not only had they rallied to win all four of their games, but they were coming off an emotional victory over Green Bay last week.

"We got a reality check today," said quarterback Warren Moon, who had the Vikings in position for some more fourth-quarter magic until Phillippi Sparks stepped in front of a pass to Cris Carter at the New York four to end the Vikings' final drive with 3:59 to play. "We didn't come out and play our game and the Giants outplayed us. They made the plays and we didn't."

In each of its four victories, Minnesota rallied in the fourth quarter, outscoring opponents, 42-3.

The Vikings were in position for another fourth-quarter rally after Pierce gave the Giants (2-3) a 12-7 lead with his first rushing touchdown late in the third quarter. It capped an 11-play, 49-yard drive that started after cornerback Jason Sehorn forced a fumble by Moon on a blitz and Chad Bratzke recovered.

The Giants missed a two-point conversion attempt.

Minnesota came right back, moving from its 34 to the Giants' 10. But David Palmer, who scored the Vikings' touchdown on a 69-yard punt return, just missed making a diving grab in the end zone of a third-down pass.

Scott Sisson kicked a 28-yard field goal to bring the Vikings within 12-10 early in the fourth quarter.

The Giants had to settle for Daluiso's third short field goal on their next series after Brown missed a wide-open Howard Cross on third and goal from the one. Brown completed 18 of 29 passes for 167 yards.

Moon, who completed 13 of 25 passes for 143 yards, had one more chance to rally Minnesota in the final five minutes. After a short punt by Mike Horan gave the Vikings the ball at their 45, Robert Smith ran 28 yards to the 22. A holding penalty moved the ball back to the 32, then Sparks intercepted a pass to Carter.

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