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NEW ENGLAND 24, MINNESOTA 17

Turnovers Have Got a Hold on the Vikings

November 25, 2002|From Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots outlasted a Minnesota team that can't win on the road and can't hang onto the ball anywhere.

Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes in the first half and the Patriots held on for a 24-17 victory Sunday over the sloppy Vikings.

Minnesota lost three fumbles and forced no turnovers, increasing its league-worst turnover differential to minus-19. The Vikings have lost 16 in a row on the road and haven't won since Thanksgiving Day 2000 in Dallas.

"It's our fault," said D'Wayne Bates, who caught one of Daunte Culpepper's two scoring passes. "The same reasons we lose at home we lose on the road -- key turnovers, particularly turnovers that lead to touchdowns."

The Patriots (6-5) led, 21-0, and got the ball back at the Viking 31-yard line when Richard Seymour recovered Randy Moss' fumble with 2:14 left in the half. The drive ended at the 39 with an eight-yard sack on fourth down, and the Vikings got a six-yard touchdown catch from Bates with 19 seconds left in the half.

"That would have pretty much ended the game in the first half, I thought, had we punched that one in," Brady said.

The Vikings (3-8) pulled to 21-17 early in the fourth quarter, but the Patriot defense held, and Adam Vinatieri made a 34-yard field goal with 11:09 left.

Culpepper completed 24 for 49 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Brady was 21 for 34 passes for 239 yards and threw scoring passes of nine yards and one yard to Christian Fauria and five yards to Troy Brown.

"I never thought it was going to be easy," Patriot Coach Bill Belichick said of the Vikings. "They've got some big-play players."

But those players -- Culpepper, Moss and Michael Bennett -- each lost a fumble, giving the Vikings 16 this season, to go with 16 interceptions.

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