MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Even with Minnesota's Randy Moss relegated to
two snaps of decoy duty, Tennessee still made sure to take away the
So Daunte Culpepper and the Vikings shifted gears and ground one
out against the struggling Titans.
Culpepper completed 24 of 30 mostly low-risk passes, and an
aggressive defense knocked Titans quarterback Steve McNair out of
the game in a 20-3 victory on Sunday.
"We did what we had to do," Culpepper said. "We move the
chains when we have to move the chains."
After throwing 10 touchdowns the last two weeks, Culpepper
finished with 183 yards and one score to Marcus Robinson just
before halftime. Rookie Mewelde Moore rushed for 138 yards on 20
carries, and the defense yielded its lowest points total in 98
games since a 24-3 victory over Cincinnati on Nov. 15, 1998.
Moss extended his consecutive games streak to 102 with a token
start, but his strained right hamstring kept him out of Minnesota's
plans and he went without a catch for the first time in his
"We knew kind of going in that we were going to be bright with
it," coach Mike Tice said. "If we were able to move the ball, we
were going to hold him out."
The All-Pro receiver didn't come out for the second half.
Although the only two routes he ran weren't long, the Vikings (5-1)
said Moss aggravated the injury.
"It was never un-aggravated," Tice said.
The Titans made the same announcement about McNair, who hurt his
chest -- again -- on the first play of the second quarter.
After going 2-for-5 for 2 yards, McNair threw an incomplete pass
and was brought down hard by a strong Minnesota rush. After lying
on the turf for a few minutes, he grimaced as he walked slowly off
"Being the leader of this football team and not being able to
go out there and get the job done is very frustrating," McNair
Billy Volek was an unsuccessful substitute for McNair, going
17-for-36 for 190 yards and three interceptions.
With Tennessee trailing 17-3, Volek firmly directed the opening
drive of the second half, looking often to Derrick Mason, who
finished with eight receptions for 85 yards.
"I shot us in the foot," Volek said. "I've made that play 100
With the Vikings leading 20-3 early in the fourth quarter, Volek
went 0-for-5 on a drive that ended in a punt. The Titans did pick
up a first down by passing on that possession, but only when Craig
Hentrich faked a punt and completed a 6-yard toss to Eddie Berlin.
Volek went 3-for-14 for 36 yards and one INT in the fourth
"This game kind of sums up our season," coach Jeff Fisher
said. "We've got no place to go now, other than to the classroom
and back to the practice field and keep working."
Chris Brown, who hurt his shoulder in last week's game against
Houston, rushed four times for 31 yards on Tennessee's first drive,
but he carried only 10 times after that and finished with 55 yards.
The last-place Titans (2-5) were whistled for 12 penalties, seven
in the first half.
"We're like 53 guys nailed up in a little box with no room to
move," Mason said, "and each guy's got to grab a hammer and start
pounding to get us out."
Though he forced a couple of long throws, Culpepper didn't turn
over the ball and showed remarkable patience. He just let Moore
wiggle his way through the line and watched Robinson, Nate Burleson
and Kelly Campbell find seams in a Tennessee defense that applied
plenty of pressure and made sure to take away the deep ball, even
without Moss in the game.
Seven players caught passes, but nobody had more than 53 yards
"Really, you can't replace a guy like Moss," Burleson said.
"You've just got to use the guys that you have to make plays."
The NFL's top two career scorers accounted for all the
points in the first quarter. Tennessee's 45-year-old Gary Anderson
made a 40-yard field goal, and 44-year-old Morten Andersen tied the
game at 3 with a 29-yarder for Minnesota. ... Anderson, who kicked
for the Vikings from 1998-2002, leads the league with 2,381 points.
Andersen is second with 2,339. ... Titans defensive ends Antwan
Odom (chest) and Carlos Hall (knee) were injured. ... Moore set a
team record with 610 total yards over his last three games,
breaking Chuck Foreman's three-game mark of 573 in 1976.