Comeback Falters, 27-20

The Vikings finally did pull Daunte Culpepper, and Todd Bouman led a comeback with two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter. But when it counted, the defense couldn't hold and the Giants came away with a 27-20 win.

In one of the sloppiest games in memory, the following happened: The Giants missed two extra points and two field goals on ugly kicking and holding, the Giants scored their first touchdown on the heels of a blown long snap on a Vikings punt attempt, and five sacks of Vikings quarterbacks helped lead to Bryant McKinnie's streak being broken and Todd Bouman being inserted at quarterback.

Through it all, the Vikings overcame a 19-6 deficit with two touchdown drives with Bouman in the game in the second half, but immediately after taking a 20-19 lead the defense gave up the game-winning touchdown drive to the New York Giants, the eventual winner of a 27-20 game.

To add to the oddities, only one third down was converted by either team, and each team had 84 penalty yards. Daunte Culpepper finished with a 58.5 quarterback rating and avoided the interception, but Kerry Collins exploited the Vikings secondary for 300 yards, two touchdowns and a 104.5 rating.

The game didn't start well for the Vikings again. After stopping the Giants in four plays, Patrick Chukwurah was called for a hold on the punt attempt and New York had another opportunity to move the chains. Although the Giants were eventually stopped it was a portent of mistakes to come throughout the first half.

Minnesota picked up two first downs through Michael Bennett rushes, but when the Vikings needed to punt it all fell apart. Brody Liddiard's snap to Kyle Richardson went sailing over the punter's head and New York's Kevin Lewis fell on it, giving the Giants the ball at the 23-yard line. It took three plays and a penalty and the Giants had a 7-0 lead with 6:10 left in the first quarter on a 1-yard pass to Charles Stackhouse.

The Vikings defense was stumbling their way through the Giants' next drive when a Kenny Mixon interception turned it around and allowed the Vikings to drive into field goal position and pull within 7-3 with 12:36 left in the second quarter.

New York answered with another touchdown drive but this time went the length of the field. Collins led the Giants offense to the Vikings 30-yard line before Ron Dayne took the ball and found a huge hole in the middle of the field and open turf in front. Dayne went untouched beyond the line of scrimmage for the 30-yard touchdown. However, with a bad hold and missed extra point, the Giants lead was only 13-3 with 3:48 left in the first half.

While the Vikings offense continued to sputter, the defense survived another penalty-filled series without giving up points when kicker Matt Bryant pulled a 31-yard field goal attempt wide left on the last scoring opportunity for either team in the first half.

The second half started out cleaner for both teams, and on the Vikings' second possession they put up the first points of the half with a Gary Anderson field goal from 27 yards out to make it 13-6. But from there, the sloppy play started anew.

On New York's ensuing possession, Tiki Barber and Ron Dixon brought the Giants to the 18-yard line, but on the field goal attempt holder Tom Rouen muffed his second hold of the game and was charged with a fumble.

After stuffing the Vikings on the next drive with a Michael Barrow sack, the Giants opened the lead to 19-6 with an 11-yard touchdown to Amani Toomer, but the kick failed again. It was the secondary yielding the yards on that drive, giving up receptions of 27 yards to Dan Campbell and 33 yards to Ron Dixon on consecutive passes.

With the offense struggling mightily and 22 seconds left in the third quarter, Mike Tice went to Todd Bouman to try and save the game, and he nearly did, although it didn't start that way.

On his first time dropping back to pass, Bouman was hit by Frank Ferrara and fumbled. Cornelius Griffin recovered, but New York wouldn't be able to take advantage.

On his next series, Bouman led the most explosive drive of the year. It didn't take long, either. On his first pass attempt of the game, he connected with Randy Moss for 48 yards, then hit him for 32 yards at the 1-yard line on the next play. Moe Williams capped the three-play drive with a 1-yard dive to make it 19-13 with 12:06 left in the game.

The defense fed off the offensive momentum and shut down the Giants in six plays, and Michael Bennett followed by doing the damage on the next drive.

After a drive-opening incompletion, Bennett hit a hole in the middle of the line, followed Jim Kleinsasser and got a big block from Randy Moss. After that, he was off to the races for a 78-yard touchdown and the Vikings' first lead of the game, 20-19, with 8:36 left in the game.

However, when needed the most, the defense couldn't hold. Corey Chavous picked up a key pass interference on third-and-6, and passes of 15 yards and 29 yards to Ron Dixon put the Giants on the 28-yard line. From there, they used a short passing game to take time off the clock and continue to move to the end zone. Passes of 5 yards each to Jeremy Shockey and Barber put the ball on the 17-yard line, and from there Barber took it to the end zone in two carries, finishing with an 8-yard run with 2:43 left. The two-point conversion was completed with a tipped pass that Marcellus Rivers caught, and the Giants had a 27-20 lead.

Bouman started the hurry-up offense moving forward, but at midfield Bryant McKinnie gave up his first sack when Kenny Holmes blew past him for a 20-yard sack. Facing fourth-and-30, Tice elected to punt with just more than two minutes left, and after the defense let Barber pick up two first downs, it was over.

Again, the Vikings could say they fought the whole game, but that theme is tired. Instead, they finally pulled Culpepper in the second half and Bouman did lead a comeback. But with big holes to fill on defense that lead would vanish in one drive.

That's the bad news. The worse news? Brett Favre and the Packers are next.

Viking Update Top Stories