McNabb, Eagles trump Vikings

Philadelphia QB outdoes counterpart Culpepper, 27-16

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

PHILADELPHIA - The high-profile receivers got the attention all week, but it was the Class of '99 quarterbacks who decided the issue in the second Monday night game of the NFL season.

The Philadelphia Eagles' Donovan McNabb threw for two touchdowns and ran for another to beat Daunte Culpepper and the Minnesota Vikings, 27-16, last night at Lincoln Financial Field.

The game followed a week of chatter between the Eagles' Terrell Owens and the Vikings' Randy Moss over which player was the better receiver. Owens ultimately won the matchup with a clinching 45-yard touchdown pass after an offensive pass interference call against Moss crippled the Vikings' fourth-quarter bid to get back into the game.

The touchdown marked the sixth straight Monday night score for Owens, who tied Jerry Rice for a Monday night record.

Moss' interference penalty came on a second-down pass at the Eagles' 11 with the Vikings trailing 17-9. As he neared the goal line, he shoved the Eagles' nickel back Roderick Hood in the back as the ball sailed overhead, uncatchable.

Backed up farther with a false start against tight end Jeff Dugan, a seventh-round draft pick out of Maryland this year, the Vikings' Morten Andersen was forced to attempt a 44-yard field goal.

Anderson's kick was short, and it didn't take the Eagles long to put the game away.

Four plays later, Owens got behind Vikings' Antoine Winfield on a deep pass, made the catch at the 5 over the falling cornerback and went in easily for the touchdown.

McNabb was the second pick in the 1999 draft and Culpepper the 11th.

The Eagles visit the Detroit Lions next week in a battle of 2-0 teams.

Minnesota (1-1) had opportunities against the Eagles, but couldn't capitalize on its chances. The Vikings were inside the Eagles' 20-yard line four different possessions - getting only a pair of field goals - before they produced their first touchdown in the final four minutes of the game. That came on a 4-yard pass from Culpepper to Moss and cut the Eagles' lead to 24-16.

Philadelphia grabbed a 17-6 lead despite getting hit with a seldom-called penalty early in the second half. Having driven to the Minnesota 21, McNabb tossed a lateral back 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 an ineligible receiver on the play because he was not operating out of the shotgun. After the 5-yard penalty, McNabb threw 5 yards to Terrell Owens.

On the next play, 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.

On the next possession, Culpepper seemingly answered McNabb's run with an 11-yard touchdown scamper of his own. But a holding penalty against center Matt Birk, his second of the game, negated the score.

After Moss dropped a pass, Culpepper was tripped up by defensive tackle Darwin Walker on a third-and-12 scramble. Andersen kicked a 39-yard field goal, his third of the game, to make it a 17-9 deficit for the Vikings.

Pregame debates between Randy Moss and Terrell Owens over which receiver was better didn't carry over into the first half. Moss had five catches for 55 yards but surprisingly didn't get the ball near the goal line when the Vikings threatened.

Owens made his only catch of the first half three minutes into the second quarter when he gained 15 yards. The only other time he got his hands on the ball was a toss on an end-around, and Owens wound up losing three yards on the play.

Nevertheless, the Eagles took a 10-6 lead into halftime, thanks in large part to the Vikings' failure in the red zone.

Minnesota twice pushed the ball to the 1-yard line, but had to settle for a field goal the first time and watched quarterback Daunte Culpepper fumble the ball away on the second.

After the Eagles' Brian Westbrook lost a fumble at the Minnesota 43, Culpepper moved the Vikings steadily downfield. He beat a Philadelphia blitz on third-and-8 with a slant pattern to Moss that went for 11 yards.

Vikings coach Mike Tice eschewed a field-goal try with 1:42 left in the half on fourth-and-1 at the Eagles' 20. Culpepper play-faked inside, bootlegged to the right and flipped a short pass to tight end Richard Owens that carried 18 yards to the 2.

On first down, Culpepper got to the 1 on a quarterback draw, but was kept out of the end zone on a hit by Mark Simoneau and then had the ball ripped out by Nate Wayne. Brian Dawkins recovered for the Eagles to snuff the threat.

Culpepper also was denied at the 1 earlier in the second quarter when he was tackled by Dawkins and Michael Lewis.

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