Daunte Culpepper is no stranger to being the NFC Offensive Player of the Week. Coming into this year, he had earned the honor seven times -- a team record -- including four times being honored with the award in 2004 alone.
But this year there was widespread belief that if the Vikings continued to struggle, Culpepper would be benched -- for the end of one game or possibly longer if Brad Johnson was a success. And why not? It had become part of the Vikings tradition. Johnson himself took over for an injured Warren Moon and never relinquished the job. The same happened when Johnson got hurt early in 1998 and Randall Cunningham led the Vikings to a 15-1 season. The same happened to Cunningham a year later when Jeff George provided a spark.
So there were some that thought with the Vikings trailing 17-0 at halftime to the Packers that Culpepper could be falling into the same trap. Instead, he led the Vikings to a comeback victory from the fifth-largest deficit in team history.
In a week where five teams came back from deficits of seven or more points in the fourth quarter, it was Culpepper who was honored by the league as the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Now if he can do something about cutting down on those 17 turnovers that have plagued the team in their four losses this year, he could be a candidate again this week.
* From the Rodney Dangerfield Department comes this: What does Paul Edinger have to go to get respect from the league? If anyone deserved special teams player of the week, it was Edinger, who delivered on a team-record 56-yard field goal as time expired to give the Vikings a win. Instead, it went to Seahawks kicker Josh Brown.
* The Panthers are the second straight Vikings opponent coming off their bye week, which couldn't have come at a better time. Had the Panthers needed to play last week, it's unlikely LB Dan Morgan and DE Julius Peppers -- two of their top defensive players -- could have played. Morgan is recovering from a dislocated shoulder and Peppers has a broken hand. Morgan is listed as questionable, but VU has been told he will play with a shoulder harness. Peppers is listed as probable.
* Other Panthers on the early injury report included WR Keary Colbert (ankle) and RB DeShaun Foster (knee) -- both of whom are listed as questionable -- an CB Chris Gamble (ankle), WR Karl Hankton (toe), RB Brad Hoover (shoulder) and Rod "He Hate Me" Smart (ankle) -- all of whom are listed as probable.
* On the Vikings injury front, guard Toniu Fonoti is still out with a broken hand, Dontarrious Thomas is questionable with a shoulder and LB Napoleon Harris (knee) and DL Spencer Johnson (knee) are both probable and expected to play.
* In their last two road games, the Vikings have fallen behind early and lost by scores of 37-8 and 30-10.
* Lions DB Dre Bly is going to be out for a month after having wrist surgery, which means he could miss one or both of the Lions games with the Vikings.
Culpepper NFC Offensive P.O.W.
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