Culpepper Caps Amazing Preseason

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper couldn't have done much more to dissuade the thinking that the passing offense might sputter without Randy Moss. Plus, get 30 game-day and preseason notes to contemplate before the roster cuts and the regular-season opener.

Daunte Culpepper was looking forward to this year's preseason games, not because he had a huge affinity for playing in them, but because he was out to prove that now the Vikings are his team and not "my and Randy's" team. Once again Friday, he hammered that point home.

All he did Friday was complete eight of 11 passes for 93 yards – almost a perfect performance except for a phenomenal one-handed interception by Kelly Herndon that looked like a pass interference situation that went uncalled. The worst part of Culpepper's performance? Despite completing all but three of his passes, Culpepper's preseason completion percentage rate actually WENT DOWN!

Culpepper finished the preseason completing 36 of the 44 passes he threw – an astounding 82 percent completions – and in the 11 drives he engineered, he got the Vikings to midfield or deeper on 10 of them.

There's no question that the Vikings are going to be a different team without Randy Moss in the lineup, but Culpepper has gone out of his way to show that the changes don't bother him – he's got the numbers to back it up.


  • Darren Bennett may have played his last game as a Viking if a young punter hits the waiver wire that the Vikings like. Bennett has struggled much of the preseason and had a 19-yard punt and a 31-yarder that got nearly a 10-yard beneficial roll or it would have been in the 19-yard range as well.

  • Michael Bennett was in uniform Friday, but did not play. Mewelde Moore didn't suit up.

  • Wanting to practice a different look, the Vikings came out on the first drive of the game in the no-huddle offense and marched down the field prior to Culpepper's interception.

  • The team got a scare early when Mike Rosenthal left the game with an injury. However, he returned on the next play.

  • Ciatrick Fason showed some hard running but had very limited success on the ground, rushing eight times for just 12 yards in his starting role. Butchie Wallace led the Vikings with 11 carries for 33 yards.

  • Eight different Vikings ran for 9 yards or more, but only Wallace had more than 14 yards in the game.

  • Both of the offensive drives engineered by Culpepper were 11-play drives.

  • The Vikings' return situation looked scarily undecided again Friday. Rookie Troy Williamson was used on kickoffs along with Ryan Hoag and recently signed ReShard Lee. The same was true in the punt return game, when Darren Sharper looked like a guy who had returned only two punts since 1997 – fumbling a punt return in the first quarter.
  • Was Culpepper working on a new signal call? In his two drives, the Seahawks jumped offside three times.

  • The Vikings spread the ball around a lot early – as Culpepper completed three passes to hometown hero Nate Burleson, as well as strikes of 20 yards to Travis Taylor and 35 yards to Marcus Robinson.

  • Paul Edinger took a big step back in his kickoffs, dropping a pair of kicks outside the 12-yard line – which remains a concern heading into the regular season.

  • The Vikings' first-team offense converted all four of its third-down opportunities in the game.

  • Seattle pulled its first-team offense from the game after one drive, while the Vikings kept their starters in for a second drive after getting burned on Seattle's initial offensive opportunity. After what the Seahawks did – completing passes of 24 and 12 yards to Darrell Jackson, along with a 17-yard run by Shaun Alexander and a 24-yard touchdown to TE Jerramy Stevens, there was little more the Seattle first-team offense needed to prove.

  • Thanks to the long drives in the first quarter, the Vikings dominated time of possession (11:51 to 3:09).

  • TE Sean Berton, fighting for an available TE roster spot, caught his first pass of the preseason Friday.

  • Brad Johnson looked a little shaky coming out of the gate. In his first three drives at QB, the Vikings gained a grand total of 5 yards.

  • Will Hunter looked to gain himself a roster spot Friday. He came up with a big special teams play in the second quarter – blocking a field goal that, in the end, proved to be within the margin of difference. With as many struggles as the Vikings have had on special teams, big plays have been hard to come by and could be enough to get Hunter on the team.

  • In the first half the Vikings rushed 16 times for 60 yards – 22 of those coming on two quarterback scrambles and 38 yards coming on 14 carries by the running backs.

  • The Vikings finished the game with 14 different players catching a pass.

  • Teams have begun picking on Brian Williams. He led the team with six tackles in the first half alone, primarily because the Seahawks were throwing at him most of the times they dropped back to pass.

  • The Vikings defense had four sacks in the first half – two by Spencer Johnson and one each by Erasmus James and C.J. Mosley (who was close to another sack in the second half). Johnson finished with three sacks.

  • Willie Offord did nothing to ingratiate himself to Tice. After making a nice tackle for a short gain to set up a third-and-long, Offord made the now-illegal throat-slash gesture and got penalized 15 yards.

  • DT Steve Martin injured his ankle and had to leave the game. He immediately had ice put on the ankle, which will likely be re-evaluated today.

  • Raonall Smith had the good and the ugly in the same play. He made an interception in the third quarter, but was rolled up awkwardly and appeared to injure his left foot or lower leg.

  • The special teams had another long return given up that helped give the Seahawks the lead in the fourth quarter. Last year, the Vikings led the NFL in allowing an opponent to return nine kickoffs 40 yards or more.

  • Edinger finally missed a field goal Friday, but, thanks to his two late field goals – one a thing of beauty from 48 yards and the other a 35-yard knuckleball that barely cleared the crossbar, he finished the preseason making eight of nine field goal attempts.

  • Rookie Heath Farwell did his best to hang on with the team, coming up with an interception in the fourth quarter that helped turn the tide of the game.

  • From the clock management department comes this: With 5:46 to play, the Vikings were late getting their field goal unit on the field and had to call a timeout – essentially icing their own kicker.

  • Rookie receivers Christopher Jones and Ryan Hoag both refused to go down without a fight. Jones had a huge 21-yard catch on a third-and-8 play to keep the Vikings' final drive alive, and Hoag caught a 44-yard bomb on a fourth-and-16 to set up the game-winning field goal.

  • Hill finished the game completing 10 of 17 passes for 110 yards – although more than one-third of those yards came on his final completion.

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