Barber's late score lets Giants escape


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A woeful kicking game, plus a quarterback
change by the Minnesota Vikings nearly cost the New York Giants,
but they wore out one of the league's worst defenses.

Question on the Giants: Do you give them a chance at winning the division?
No, because I believe the Eagles will lock up the NFC East. But given the rest of their schedule, I do see the Giants making the playoffs. I like the approach of coach Jim Fassel. He puts himself on the line and takes the heat as well as the acclaim.

Question on the Vikings: Should coach Mike Tice go with Todd Bouman at QB next week?
Yes, I think so. It could divert the attention off the potential sale of the team and the Randy Moss-Daunte Culpepper distractions. Maybe it would give the guys in the locker room a kick in the butt. Culpepper is still young, and sometimes you need to sit a young player down (especially in this situation, given the problems with Moss). The day off could help him collect himself, and then he could come back the next week.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

The Giants amassed 460 yards of offense and took a late lead on
Tiki Barber's touchdown run Sunday in a 27-20 victory that dropped
the Vikings to 2-7 for the first time since 1984.

"This whole game was a study in perseverance for us,'' Barber
said. "In the NFL, when the momentum shifts, it's real tough to
get it back. Last drive, we had to snatch the momentum way.''

Kerry Collins was 25-for-35 for 300 yards passing, two
touchdowns and an interception, and Barber rushed 24 times for 127
yards as New York (5-4) moved within a game of first-place
Philadelphia in the NFC East.

Minnesota ran out of patience with Daunte Culpepper, and Todd
Bouman nearly rallied the Vikings to a win that would've been due
largely to two extra points and two mid-range field goals botched
by the Giants.

"I'm proud of the way our guys came back,'' said New York coach
Jim Fassel. "It shouldn't have been that close. We left eight
points off the board.''

Michael Bennett rushed 15 times for a career-high 167 yards, his
third straight 100-yard game. He scored on a 78-yard burst through
the line that gave Minnesota its first lead, 20-19 with 8:36

The Giants, aided by a third-down pass interference call on
Corey Chavous, drove 80 yards in 10 plays to retake the lead on an
8-yard scoring run by Barber. Marcellus Rivers caught the deflected
2-point conversion pass to make it 27-20 with 2:43 left.

The Vikings had to punt after rookie Bryant McKinnie, making his
NFL debut, let Kenny Holmes by him to sack Bouman and force a
fumble that lost 20 yards on third down. McKinnie had not given up
sack in junior college or college.

Barber ran out the clock with 40 yards on the final possession.

"It's on us,'' Minnesota defensive tackle Chris Hovan said.
"The defense has got to stop 'em, and we didn't do it.''

Other than the sack by Holmes, McKinnie looked strong in his NFL
debut after ending a 98-day holdout last week. He played left
tackle for all but three series.

Culpepper didn't throw an interception but was just 9-for-20 for
91 yards. After another three-and-out series in the third quarter,
coach Mike Tice conceded to Bouman -- the backup who played at NCAA
Division II St. Cloud State -- as the crowd cheered.

"I thought we had very little rhythm in the passing game,''
Tice said. "I thought we had to make a change. Todd came in and
gave us a lift and Michael gave us a lift, but we were not able to
maintain that.''

On his second drive, Bouman completed two passes to Randy Moss
for 80 yards before Moe Williams plunged in from the 1 for his
ninth touchdown of the season and cut New York's lead to six.

"I'm still the quarterback,'' Culpepper said. "It's like in
baseball when a relief pitcher comes in. That's how I look at it.''

The Vikings have hurt themselves with turnovers and foolish
penalties, and Sunday's first half was a microcosm of the first
half of their season.

Minnesota was called for seven penalties worth 52 yards in the
first 30 minutes, and Brody Liddiard's snap sailed over punter Kyle
Richardson's head in the first quarter, setting up a 1-yard
touchdown pass by Collins to fullback Charles Stackhouse.

Minnesota's defense, ranked 30th among the 32 teams, did play
fairly well in the first half, except for one glaring moment when
Ron Dayne burst through the middle untouched for a 30-yard
touchdown midway through the second quarter.

Then came the kicking problems for the Giants, costing them a
chance to build on the 13-3 lead.

Tom Rouen -- signed by New York on Nov. 1 -- fumbled the snap on
the extra point, and Corey Chavous tackled him after Matt Bryant
decided it was too risky to kick. Later, Bryant pulled a 31-yard
field goal to the left.

In the third quarter, Bryant had a 36-yarder taken away from him
when Rouen bobbled the ball again and was tackled by Chavous.

Later in the period, the Giants drove 91 yards in six plays and
took a 19-6 lead on an easy 11-yard touchdown pass from Collins to
Amani Toomer.

Jesse Palmer replaced Rouen as the holder, and Bryant yanked the
extra point wide left after a high snap by Bob Jones. A 20-yard
punt by Rouen set up the Bouman-led TD drive that pulled Minnesota
to 19-13.

Game notes
Giants WR Tim Carter tore his Achilles' tendon and is out
for the season. He tripped while running a route next to the
covered-up pitcher's mound and fell to the turf. ... Former Vikings
DE Carl Eller, one of the famed Purple People Eaters, had his name
added to the team's "Ring of Honor'' at halftime.


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