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Moss' Performance So Outstanding, It's Freaky

October 02, 2000|From Associated Press

PONTIAC, Mich. — Randy Moss told Daunte Culpepper simply to throw the ball high because he was the only one who was going to come down with it.

Good advice.

Moss caught scoring passes of 61, 50 and 17 yards from Culpepper as the Minnesota Vikings stayed unbeaten with a 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

The Vikings (4-0) took command of the game with two touchdowns in a 2:26 span midway through the fourth quarter.

Moss, who went into the game with only one touchdown catch this season, caught seven passes for 168 yards despite being double-covered. Culpepper completed 17 of 29 passes for 269 yards.

"Daunte and I hooked up on some things we've been talking about since training camp," Moss said. "I had at least 300 friends from my home state [West Virginia] here. I just had to put a show on for them and the whole Silverdome."

The third touchdown pass to Moss put the Vikings ahead to stay with about nine minutes left. The 6-foot-4 receiver was double-teamed on the play but leaped over Terry Fair and Corwin Brown to come down with the 50-yard touchdown reception.

"That's why they call me 'The Freak,' " Moss said.

Robert Smith helped create a balance of the run and pass by gaining 134 yards in 16 carries. His 65-yard touchdown run gave Minnesota a 31-17 lead with just more than six minutes to play.

But well after the game, he was still in awe of Moss' third touchdown.

"I've seen Randy do a lot of impressive stuff, but that was one of the most impressive things I've ever seen him do," Smith said. "It was like he was saying, 'That's my ball.' "

Detroit (3-2) misfired on what turned out to be its final chance in the game with 6:35 to play.

With the Lions trailing, 24-17, Coach Bobby Ross decided to go for it on fourth and eight from the Minnesota 35.

Batch threw an incomplete pass and on the next play, Smith busted through a hole and sprinted down the sideline for his touchdown, with help from a Moss block near the goal line.

"That was a huge stop for us," Robert Griffith said. "We were able to gain some momentum from that play and then we put them away."

The Lions consistently created room for James Stewart to run for the first time this season. But it didn't matter in the end because their defense couldn't find a way to cover Moss and the offense converted on only two of 11 third downs.

Detroit entered the game ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing with 64.3 yards a game. The Lions surpassed that total in the first half, and Stewart finished with a season-high 123 yards in 20 carries.

Charlie Batch completed 24 of 44 passes for 239 yards and one touchdown pass, ran for a score and threw an interception. He capped a seven-play, 69-yard drive with a five-yard run to tie the score at 17-17 with about 12 minutes left.

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