PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Life without WR Randy Moss (strained right hamstring) continues to be a struggle for the NFL's top-ranked offense. With Moss sidelined for the first time in his seven-year career, QB Daunte Culpepper was effective but not explosive. Culpepper completed 84.2 percent of his passes, but only one completion was longer than 18 yards. He also threw for only 169 total as the Vikings' NFL record of at least 300 yards of offense was snapped at 36 games. LT Bryant McKinnie gave up two sacks to Dwight Freeney. McKinnie dominated Freeney in college when McKinnie was at Miami and Freeney was at Syracuse. But Monday night, Freeney outclassed McKinnie with speed and moves. Moss played only 11 snaps in 10 quarters before the Colts game. He is doubtful for Sunday's game at Green Bay.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- RB Onterrio Smith returned from a four-game suspension and showed some explosiveness. He ran for 80 yards on 13 carries (6.2), including a 24-yard touchdown run. Michael Bennett continues to look average. He carried five times for 18 yards (3.6).
PASS DEFENSE: F -- A cynic would say, "What pass defense?" Peyton Manning completed 23 of 29 passes for four touchdowns without an interception and had a passer rating of 144.8. The Vikings had chances to make plays but couldn't hang on to a couple of interceptions. With 3:30 left in the third quarter and the score tied 14-14, free safety Brian Russell dropped what should have been an easy interception. Two plays later, Manning threw a touchdown pass to Dallas Clark. The Vikings have had trouble hanging on to easy picks all season.
RUSH DEFENSE: D -- One of the reasons Manning was able to toy with the Vikings defense was that Colts RB Edgerrin James pounded out 123 yards on 26 carries (4.7). Manning also added 20 yards on four carries.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- This was by far the best the Vikings' special teams have played. Nate Burleson had a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown, and Kelly Campbell had a 51-yard kickoff return that set up a field goal. The punt-coverage unit also held the Colts to minus-2 yards on one return. On a negative note, the woes of P Darren Bennett continue. He averaged 36.7 yards on three punts, including a 28-yarder that started the Colts' first possession at the Indianapolis 49.
COACHING: C -- Coach Mike Tice and his assistants deserve credit for the team bouncing back from a 14-0 deficit without Moss, on the road, on a Monday night. But the use of timeouts and clock management was a concern. Not calling a timeout sooner at the end of the second quarter to take at least one shot into the end zone was puzzling. The Vikings let seconds tick off the clock, calling a timeout with two seconds left and settling for a 23-yard field goal. That closed the gap to 14-6 but obviously wasn't enough in what became a high-scoring game.
Grading The Game: Colts
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