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Hilliard grabs two TD catches

10/27/2003

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Vikings were flat and lacking
focus, while the New York Giants were hungry and eager for some
success.

Kerry Collins passed for 375 yards and two touchdowns Sunday to
lead the Giants to a 29-17 victory over the Vikings -- the NFC's
last unbeaten team.

Question on the Giants: Is this the game that sparks a four- or five-game winning streak?
It seems that every year, Coach Fassel has a game where his team is able to pull an upset to spark their season. This is the type of game that could do it for them this season. The Giants played smart football and got everyone involved on offense.

Question on the Vikings: What happened to the Vikes on Sunday?
The Vikings ran into a team that wanted this game more than they did. The Vikings came into the game on fire and looked unstoppable on offense, but they cooled down when it counted.

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

"When you play like a team that's starting to believe what
everyone is saying about you -- that's what you get," said
Minnesota coach Mike Tice, whose team lost for the first time in 10
regular-season games dating to last Dec. 8 at Green Bay.

"We never lost that will to win -- the guys just kept on
fighting," said Giants coach Jim Fassel, whose team ended a
three-game losing streak and has never dropped four in a row in his
seven seasons.

Randy Moss had two touchdown catches and 125 yards receiving for
Minnesota (6-1), but Daunte Culpepper threw his first two
interceptions of the year and the Vikings got little offensive
production from anyone else.

"We just really didn't have it in us," Moss said. "I really
don't know how we're going to react. Some teams go down in the
hole, and some teams step up."

That's what the Giants (3-4) did.

They were 3-4 last year, too, before winning seven of their
final nine to earn a wild-card spot. And then there was 2000, when
New York lost two straight at home to fall to 7-4 and prompt Fassel
to guarantee a playoff appearance. The Giants went to the Super
Bowl that year.

"It's been tough around here," Collins said, "but we kept our
belief."

Tiki Barber had a touchdown and 122 total yards for New York,
which led 22-17 on Barber's 2-yard TD run with 5:29 remaining.

Culpepper was picked off by Frank Walker on the next play from
scrimmage, and Walker returned it 18 yards to the Minnesota 17. Ike
Hilliard got his second touchdown reception three plays later to
put the game out of reach.

"We have a lot of character," said Giants safety Shaun
Williams, "and it showed."

Hilliard had nine catches for 100 yards, Amani Toomer three for
96, Jeremy Shockey three for 81 and New York gained 450 total yards
-- the most allowed by the Vikings this year.

Their defense was squarely behind the 6-0 start, but the Giants
have always had success moving the ball against them -- most notably
in a 41-0 defeat in the NFC championship game in January 2001.

New York, which managed only 26 points in its past three games,
moved 76 yards in six easy plays on its first possession -- capped
by a 15-yard scoring pass from Collins to Hilliard to make it 7-3.

The Giants had 274 yards in the first half and drove 53 yards in
five plays on their first possession of the third quarter. They
settled for Brett Conway's third field goal of the day, though, and
led 16-10.

Collins rolled right on the Minnesota 9 in the first quarter and
had Shockey wide open in the flat, but he threw back toward the
goal post -- and into the hands of Minnesota's Corey Chavous for his
sixth interception. Collins has eight INTs in his last four games.

The Giants, flagged for nine penalties totaling 70 yards,
finally got some breaks in the fourth quarter.

With Minnesota leading 17-16, Jack Brewer blocked a punt by Jeff
Feagles inside New York 5-yard line, but linebacker Wesley Mallard
alertly scooped the ball and ran 20 yards for the first down.

"Unbelievable, man," Brewer said. "That's the way the game
bounces."

Collins, who was 17-for-24 for 226 yards before halftime, was
having a rough second half until he found Shockey for 46 yards to
the Minnesota 22 -- plus 11 more on a roughing-the-passer penalty on
Chris Hovan.

Barber's run put the Giants up by five after an offside penalty
on Lance Johnstone gave New York another chance to convert a third
down. Hilliard dropped the 2-point conversion pass.

"To come up here and get a win really helps our confidence,"
Collins said.

Confidence. That's something the Vikings might have had a little
too much of coming into this game.

"I think we really got too far ahead of ourselves," Moss said.
"We've just got to be reeled back in."

Game notes
Barber surpassed Frank Gifford for most all-purpose yards
in Giants history with 9,880. ... Culpepper was 18-for-31 for 241
yards. He has nine touchdowns and two interceptions.

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