Minnesota (4-0) at Atlanta (1-3)

Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 66° F
  • Game info: 1:00 pm EDT Sun Oct 5, 2003
  • TV: FOX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The unbeaten Minnesota Vikings will depend on backup quarterback Gus Frerotte once again as they visit the Georgia Dome to face the struggling Atlanta Falcons.

Minnesota decided Friday that Daunte Culpepper’s ailing back was not healed enough for him to return as the starting quarterback this week. So Frerotte, who played brilliantly in last week’s 35-7 shellacking of San Francisco, will probably be at the helm again.

Culpepper was expected to take snaps in practice Friday in case he had to fill-in for Frerotte.

Against the 49ers, Frerotte threw for 267 yards and four touchdowns, including three to wide receiver Randy Moss, as the Vikings improved to 4-0.

“Gus Frerotte came in and did exactly what we brought him in to do,” said Minnesota coach Mike Tice, who turned to the 10-year veteran when Culpepper was diagnosed with three broken bones in his back.

Frerotte went 16-for-21 without an interception against a speedy defense that entered the game with an NFL-high 13 sacks.

“I’ve been in some great games, and I’ve luckily done a lot of good things in this league,” said Frerotte, who set a franchise record with a 157.2 quarterback rating. “But today was an outstanding day.”

The Vikings have their bye week coming after the Falcons game, meaning Culpepper will have four full weeks to heal before coming back Oct. 19 against Denver.

The Vikings might delay announcing their decision until just before kickoff, just like they did against the 49ers.

Culpepper injured his back Sept. 21 at Detroit. Tice doesn’t want to rush his return, especially with Frerotte playing so well.

“We certainly want him to go in there and play at the same level he was playing at before he got injured, and it’s hard to do that with three or four broken bones in your back,” Tice said Monday.

Culpepper will be listed as questionable.

The Falcons started 1-3 a year ago and still made the playoffs. That doesn’t seem as likely this season, especially with star quarterback Michael Vick out for at least two more games.

The Falcons haven’t won since their season opener at Dallas, and have managed just one touchdown in consecutive losses to division rivals Tampa Bay and Carolina.

The offensive futility actually goes back a bit further. Since taking a 24-7 lead against Washington in Week 2, a game which the Redskins rallied to win 33-31, Atlanta has reached the end zone twice in 35 possessions.

“I know what we do works, we’re just going to stay the course and we’re going to try and get better execution,” Falcons coach Dan Reeves.

Doug Johnson went 14-of-23 for 152 yards with an interception in last weekend’s 23-3 loss to the Panthers.

Vick won’t be the only key player missing this week. Reeves suspended starting cornerback Tyrone Williams for one game Wednesday for “conduct detrimental to the team.”

The action followed an apparent blowup between Williams and assistant coaches.

Williams, who played his first seven seasons with Green Bay, was signed as a free agent from Green Bay in the offseason. He has recorded 18 tackles and ranks second on the team with three pass deflections.Kynan Forney (ankle); G Roberto Garza (ankle); DE Hall (elbow).

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