MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—After another loss to the New York Giants, Mike Tice walked into the interview room and announced the only good news of the afternoon for Minnesota.
“The Giants are not on our schedule next year,” the coach said. “Thank God.”
Going back to their 41-0 loss in the NFC championship game that followed the 2000 season, the Vikings haven’t had much luck against New York. This was their third straight loss to the Giants—all at home.
In 2002, Daunte Culpepper was benched for the fourth quarter after going 9-for-20 for 91 yards against New York. Minnesota began last year with six wins in a row before losing 29-17 to the Giants and dropping seven of its final 10.
“For some reason, we just have great performances here,” said Barber, who rushed 24 times for 101 yards and two short touchdowns.
Shockey caught three balls for 60 yards, Warner went 13-for-21 for 144 yards and New York (5-2) finally solved its red zone struggles by scoring all five times it reached the Minnesota 20—including four TDs. Backup Mike Cloud scored twice on short runs in the second half.
“We rebounded in the right way,” said Barber, whose team dropped a 28-13 decision to Detroit last week.
Randy Moss was in street clothes after halftime, going without a catch for the second straight game while a strained right hamstring kept him from running at full speed. Moss didn’t aggravate the injury, but felt some tightness and the Vikings didn’t want to risk it.
“We’ve got to find a new personality until Randy’s healthy,” Tice said.
The Vikings (5-2) sure could have used him, because their prolific offense had by far the worst performance of the season. Culpepper finished 24-for-42 for 231 yards, one late touchdown and two interceptions.
“Everything that could’ve went bad for us did,” said Culpepper, who ran for a team-high 32 yards.
Lance Johnstone had two of Minnesota’s five sacks, but the Vikings wore down as the scoreless possessions added up. Rookie Mewelde Moore, who had 610 total yards in the last three games, was held to 29 yards on eight carries.
“I think we’re a little spoiled, because we’re used to putting up a lot of points,” left tackle Bryant McKinnie said.
Culpepper threw a swing pass on the opening possession that glanced off Moore’s hands and helmet that appeared to be an incompletion—but Kevin Lewis scooped up the ball and returned it 16 yards to the Minnesota 22. The ruling, backed by instant replay when Tice lost the challenge, was a fumble because the throw went behind the line of scrimmage.
A 38-yard pass interference penalty on Corey Chavous set up Barber’s first touchdown, making it 10-0 a little more than seven minutes into the game.
Culpepper was intercepted by Gibril Wilson late in the first quarter, leading to Barber’s next score. Marcus Robinson, who led the Vikings with 91 yards receiving, hauled in a 32-yard pass on the ensuing drive that reached the Giants 21—but Morten Andersen banged a 38-yard field goal off the left upright after a low snap by Cullen Loeffler.
Warner, who fumbled three times, recovered his mishandled snap at the Minnesota 1 with 23 seconds left before halftime. After Chavous nearly intercepted Warner’s throw over the middle of the end zone two plays later, Steve Christie kicked his second field goal—a 30-yarder that made it 20-0.
Many of the Giants credited defensive coordinator Tim Lewis for their success. They also were annoyed with constant questions about Culpepper and Minnesota’s offense leading up to kickoff.
“After hearing all week about his numbers this and his numbers that, we wanted to put a number on them,” said Will Allen, who had one of New York’s interceptions.
Amani Toomer, whose status was in question because of a hamstring injury, had three catches for 31 yards for the Giants. … Culpepper, who has thrown 20 TDs this year, extended his scoring-pass streak to 12 games. He owns the franchise record with 24. … RB Ron Dayne was among New York’s inactives. Shaun O’Hara, who has cellulitis, was also on that list. He was replaced at center by Wayne Lucier. … Tice was 0-for-2 in first-half challenges.
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