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SPORTS WEEKEND | AROUND THE NFC / CENTRAL

Culpepper Is Daunting

October 13, 2000

It is obvious Daunte Culpepper is playing well.

Here's how well.

He is completing 64% of his passes and has the fifth-best passer rating in the NFL (94.1).

He is also one of only eight quarterbacks since 1960 to win his first five starts.

The most recent? Warner last season.

Tampa Bay offensive linemen Randall McDaniel and Jeff Christy made their return Monday to the Metrodome, where they were both longtime standouts for the Minnesota Vikings.

It wasn't a warm welcome. McDaniel was hooted for a false start on the first play, and the Vikings' line has recovered fine despite losing two former All-Pros to free agency.

What has changed for the Buccaneers?

Here's one overlooked item.

In Tony Dungy's first four seasons as coach, Tampa Bay lost a fourth-quarter lead only twice in 29 opportunities, the Tampa Bay Tribune noted.

In his last three games, it has happened twice.

October struggles are nothing new for Dungy's Buccaneers.

They have lost 11 of their last 15 games in October.

"It just seems like we're going through our history of the last four years," Dungy said. "Every October it seems like it's been this way, and we start playing a little better. We can't wait until November to do that."

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