The best thing that could have happened to Daunte Culpepper was seeing Todd Bouman play well in relief of him Sunday in the near-comeback vs. the Steelers. However, that isn't to say either Culpepper or Dennis Green are ready to hand the ball over to Bouman.
For the first time in his career, Culpepper was a sitting target for defenders, unable to scramble and forced to throw passes flat-footed. Finally, when the pain and the wobbly passes got to be too much, Bouman got the call.
While Bouman did a respectable job against the league's top-ranked defense, it wasn't the bombs away program the stats might have indicated. The Vikings set up Bouman to throw short controlled passes -- the 80-yard TD to Michael Bennett was a backward pass behind the line of scrimmage that broke into a long gain. The 62-yard bomb to Moss was overthrown and only a circus catch made that possible and, with the game on the line, Bouman made a newcomer's mistake -- scrambling a full five yards beyond the line of scrimmage before throwing a pass to Cris Carter.
If Bouman is to play Sunday, the Titans will be expecting the short passing game and bringing a lot of blitzes to confuse the young QB. But, the same will be true if Culpepper plays. After the game, Culpepper conceded that the knee may need some time off, while Dennis Green wasn't so certain, saying he hopes Culpepper will be ready Sunday. The question now becomes, how important are wins to try to get to .500? If it could endanger Culpepper's health, it may be better to let him sit and take the lumps as a team.
* In injury news, Ed McDaniel reagrravated his high ankle sprain. He will be evaluated today.
* Backup linebacker Jim Nelson was also injured, bruising his quadriceps. He, too, will be evaluated today and listed on the team's injury report.
* Early word from the Vikings medical staff is that Culpepper will officially be listed as questionable and, like this week, will probably be a game-time decision.
* Due to injuries all along the offensive line, Corbin Lacina, who was supposed to sit out another week, was pressed back into duty early -- starting on Sunday.
* Despite a makeshift offensive line, the Steeler defense only got their hands on Culpepper three times and didn't get any sacks.
* Byron Chamberlain's knee locked up on him again in the first drive of the game. He returned to action, but it looks like the cartilage damage he suffered three weeks ago vs. the Giants will bother him all season and he'll need surgery after the year is done.
* Kordell Stewart's first quarter interception by Robert Griffith was his first pick in 160 passes.
* Two kicks hit the uprights Sunday -- a sign of how different things were for the two teams. Kris Brown hit the upright on the first extra point for the Steelers and the kick went in. Gary Anderson tried a 37-yard field and the kick kissed the upright and went wide.
* From the "You Can't Make This Up" Department comes this: Remember Phil Luckett? The ref who mistook heads for tails on Thanksgiving and cost the Steelers a game. Or the ref who mistook Vinny Testaverde's green and white Jets helmet for a brown football and cost Seattle a game and Dennis Erickson his job. Yeah, that Phil Luckett. He's been demoted to back judge from referee and still finds a way to screw things up. He was working the Saints-Panthers game and, early in the game, New Orleans had an easy touchdown as Joe Horn was behind the defense and Aaron Brooks delivered a perfect pass. The problem? Luckett was playing d-back and, as the ball came down, laid a perfect pick on Horn, broke up the pass and the ball hit him in the head. Let's have Luckett hold the kicking balls before he costs somebody else a potential playoff spot.
Culpepper's Status In Jeopardy
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