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PRO FOOTBALL / WEEK 2 | MINNESOTA 38, ST. LOUIS 31

Vikings Bank On Defense in End

September 14, 1998|From Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — The Minnesota Vikings scored five touchdowns, but needed a stop on the game's final play to clinch a victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

Ram quarterback Tony Banks dived for the end zone following an eight-yard scramble, but was stopped inches short as time expired in the Vikings' 38-31 victory over the Rams.

"I just looked up and I saw zeros on the clock," Banks said. "I'm not the fastest guy out of the backfield, so they probably saw me coming."

The Rams (0-2) got a first down on the play but they couldn't get a timeout.

"I knew he wasn't getting in," said safety Orlando Thomas, who got credit for the tackle. "I knew we had him trapped. He was going to to have to go through four guys."

Randall Cunningham, who took over at quarterback for the injured Brad Johnson early in the fourth quarter, threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Cris Carter with 2:09 left for the decisive score.

Robert Smith rushed for a career-best 179 yards and two first-half touchdowns, the second covering 74 yards to give the Vikings (2-0) a 24-10 lead.

Banks passed to Isaac Bruce for an 80-yard touchdown that tied the score 31-31 in the fourth quarter, but also had a career-high four interceptions.

"I gave them at least 24 points," said Banks, who completed 25 of 45 passes. "If I play halfway decent, we win that game by a touchdown."

Johnson, who was 18 for 31 passing for 208 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions and one costly fumble that led to a Ram touchdown, sprained his right ankle without contact. Viking Coach Dennis Green said Cunningham might start next week.

On the winning play, Cunningham gunned the ball to the the end zone to Carter, who beat safety Keith Lyle. The catch was the 765th of Carter's career as he passed James Lofton for sixth place on the NFL all-time list.

Viking rookie receiver Randy Moss, who caught two touchdown passes in his NFL debut last week, had six catches for 89 yards but no touchdowns.

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