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PRO FOOTBALL WEEK 1 | MINNESOTA 31, TAMPA BAY 7

Sudden Impact for Moss

September 07, 1998|From Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Most NFL teams were scared of Randy Moss in last spring's draft, too worried about his past to take a chance on his future.

Not the Minnesota Vikings, and now all 29 other teams should be scared of him.

Doing exactly what Minnesota drafted him to do--be a deep receiving threat--Moss caught two long touchdown passes Sunday to lead the Vikings to a surprisingly easy 31-7 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"He's not the greatest receiver we ever faced, but he's going to be," said Tampa Bay cornerback Donnie Abraham, whom Moss got behind on his second touchdown.

Cris Carter also had two touchdown receptions and Brad Johnson had four touchdown passes, but Moss made the biggest impact. His touchdown receptions of 48 and 31 yards on consecutive possessions helped give the Vikings a 21-0 first-half lead.

Moss tipped the first one twice in the end zone before catching it, then leaped into the stands to celebrate. On the second one, he sprinted past Abraham and hauled in a well-thrown pass from Johnson.

Moss' troubled past, which includes an assault conviction, probation violation and jail time as teenager, seemed far behind as he spoke about this debut.

"I was fired up," said Moss, who had four catches for 95 yards. "I don't really show it, but on that first one I just let it come on out that I was fired up for this game."

Tampa Bay played nothing like the team that ended a 15-year playoff drought in 1997. The defense was off-balance all afternoon, and the Buccaneers' running backs, Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott, both of whom made the Pro Bowl team, had only 59 yards in 19 carries.

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