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Pro Football Week 11 | MINNESOTA 24, CINCINNATI 3

Defense Rescues Vikings

November 16, 1998|From Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Viking offense was listless and error-prone, going nowhere for the first time this season even though it was matched against the NFL's worst defense.

So Minnesota's defense took over, proving once again that the Vikings' best season in 23 years is about a lot more than flashy receivers and high-scoring games.

Dwayne Rudd's 63-yard fumble return for a touchdown late in the third quarter awoke the Vikings in their 24-3 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Rudd's touchdown, set up by John Randle's sack, gave the Vikings (9-1) a 14-3 lead. The defense allowed only four first downs the rest of the game and set up 10 more points in the first 3:34 of the fourth quarter.

Viking quarterback Randall Cunningham showed no loss of mobility from last week's knee surgery, running for a touchdown and throwing a 61-yard scoring pass to Randy Moss.

But the Vikings' underrated defense made the plays that mattered most.

"In a tight ball game it doesn't take but one play, and [Rudd's touchdown] was that play to get us going," said defensive end Derrick Alexander, who had both his sacks after Rudd's score. "After that, everything just started clicking for us. It was just a spectacular game."

Off to their best start since the 1975 team was 10-0, the Vikings protected their two-game lead in the NFC Central and maintained a one-game lead over surprising Atlanta for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

After blowing out Green Bay at Lambeau Field last month, the Vikings can all but clinch the division title by completing a sweep of the Packers at home next Sunday.

The loss was the seventh in eight games for Cincinnati (2-8).

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