McNabb, Eagles trump Vikings

Philadelphia QB outdoes counterpart Culpepper, 27-16

September 21, 2004|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA - Randy Moss had the big mistake, Terrell Owens had the big catch, but Donovan McNabb made all the big plays to push the Philadelphia Eagles to a 27-16 victory over the Minnesota Vikings last night.

After a week of braggadocio from the two mouthy wide receivers - Moss of the Vikings and Owens of the Eagles - this Monday night special came down to McNabb's arm and legs.

He threw for two touchdowns and ran 20 yards for another to steal the show as the Eagles improved to 2-0 this season and 7-1 on Monday night under coach Andy Reid.

McNabb completed 19 of 28 passes for 245 yards.

"What a difference a year makes," he said, referring to the Eagles' 0-2 start a year ago. "I think a lot of us were able to learn from the mistakes that were made earlier last year. With the experience of being in that position, I think it's helped us out a lot."

Moss and Owens took turns last week pleading their case as the NFL's best receiver. In the end, Owens won the skirmish with a 45-yard touchdown catch over cornerback Antoine Winfield in the fourth quarter to open a 24-9 Eagles lead.

Moss answered with his 11th Monday night touchdown in the final three minutes, but it was too little, too late. His offensive pass interference early in the fourth quarter undermined a Minnesota drive with the Vikings trying desperately to get back in the game.

On a pass that sailed over both players' heads, Moss pushed defensive back Roderick Hood in the back. A false start penalty against tight end Jeff Dugan, a seventh-round draft pick out of Maryland this season, backed up the Vikings to the Philadelphia 30-yard line and effectively out of scoring range.

Morten Anderson, who tied George Blanda's record of 340 games played in the NFL, was short on a 44-yard field-goal attempt.

The Eagles went 66 yards in four plays to get Owens' clinching score.

Owens finished with four catches for 79 yards and Moss had eight for 69 yards.

The Vikings moved up and down the field most of the night. Quarterback Daunte Culpepper lost his right tackle, Mike Rosenthal, to a sprained foot in the first half and the Vikings' running game disappeared soon after.

Playing from behind, Culpepper completed 37 of 47 passes for 343 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

But he had a critical fumble at the 1-yard line in the first half that symbolized Minnesota's difficulties in the red zone.

Until Moss finally got into the end zone with 3:32 to play, the Vikings had gotten six points out of four trips inside the Philadelphia 20-yard line.

Culpepper was denied a touchdown on a quarterback draw from the Eagles' 2 in the second quarter and the Vikings settled for a 19-yard Andersen field goal.

He was denied again on first-and-goal from the 2 late in the second quarter. On a fourth-and-1 call, Culpepper bootlegged right and flipped a short pass to tight end Richard Owens for an 18-yard gain to the Philadelphia 2.

On the next play, he again attempted to go up the middle after dropping into the pocket. But he was met at the goal line by linebacker Mark Simoneau, and linebacker Nate Wayne ripped the ball out for a fumble. The Eagles' Brian Dawkins recovered to snuff the threat.

Until the Vikings' touchdown, Culpepper didn't use Moss in the red zone.

"He was double covered just about every time," Culpepper said. "I'm not going to force it out there if it's not there."

The Vikings (1-1) also lost an 11-yard touchdown run by Culpepper when center Matt Birk was flagged for holding. It was Birk's second holding penalty of the game.

Anderson kicked three field goals for the Vikings, including a 42-yarder in the first quarter. The Eagles' David Akers had field goals of 37 and 47 yards.

The Eagles, who visit the 2-0 Detroit Lions next week, never relinquished the lead after McNabb's 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end L. J. Smith in the first quarter made it 7-3.

Philadelphia took a 17-6 lead despite getting hit with an obscure, seldom-called penalty early in the second half. Having driven to the Minnesota 21, McNabb tossed a lateral to Freddie Mitchell. The wide receiver scrambled and finally flipped a short pass to McNabb for a 7-yard gain to the 14.

But McNabb was declared an ineligible receiver on the play because he was not operating out of the shotgun.

Two plays later, McNabb eluded defensive tackle Kevin Williams and then broke out of the pocket to his left. He got outside safety Brian Russell with a fake and then sprinted for the end zone, going in for a 20-yard touchdown. He started high-stepping at the 5 and held the ball aloft.

In the end zone after the touchdown, he moon-walked, a gesture expected more from Owens, his high-profile receiver.

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