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Vikings Are Not Daunted

September 22, 2003|From Associated Press

DETROIT — Gus Frerotte threw for 184 yards and a touchdown in relief of an injured Daunte Culpepper as the Minnesota Vikings beat the Detroit Lions, 23-13, on Sunday.

Culpepper left late in the second quarter with a bruised back after his second rushing touchdown gave the Vikings the lead for good. He was scheduled to have his back examined Sunday night in Minneapolis.

Culpepper said he was in too much pain to return to the game Sunday, but said he "absolutely" expects to play next week at home against San Francisco.

"Do I look hurt?" Culpepper asked as he limped away from Minnesota's locker room. "I thought I looked cool, like Fred Sanford."

Minnesota (3-0), with three wins in the NFC North, is off to its best start since winning seven games to start the 2000 season. The last two years, the Vikings were a combined 11-21.

"I think it's big because we've been on the low end of the stick," said Randy Moss, who caught three passes for 85 yards despite back spasms. "Being 3-0 in the division gives us the confidence that we can be a playoff team."

The Lions (1-2) have lost to Minnesota and Green Bay since beating Arizona in their opener. They face tough games at Denver and San Francisco the next two weeks.

"This team is learning that we can beat a team like Arizona that is trying to improve, just like us, but now we are in a stretch of playing four playoff-contending teams in a row," Detroit Coach Steve Mariucci said.

Minnesota outscored Detroit, 23-3, after trailing, 10-0, late in the first quarter.

Corey Chavous intercepted a poorly thrown pass from Joey Harrington in the end zone with 4:52 left.

With just under two minutes to play, the Lions were unable to score on two plays from Minnesota's one and two plays from the Viking two.

Culpepper didn't return after linebacker Wali Rainer hit him in the end zone on his two-yard run that put the Vikings ahead, 13-10, late in the second quarter. Culpepper was seven for 13 for 105 yards.

"I guess it's part of the game, but I thought he could've pulled up when he saw I was in the end zone," Culpepper said.

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