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Vikes' Moss Helps Smother Patriots

The Minnesota Vikings are getting the most out of their draft choices.

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  • pick Randy Moss caught a 44-yard touchdown pass, and last year's top choice, Dwayne Rudd, scored on a 34-yard interception return as Minnesota beat New England 28-0 in an exhibition game Sunday night.

    "I was so pumped up. My first touchdown. My first game. It was exciting," Moss said. "I want to relax a little more my next time out."

    After neither starting quarterback could move his team, Vikings backup Randall Cunningham threw two touchdown passes and was 9-for-16 for 165 yards. He was sacked three times.

    Minnesota starter Brad Johnson was 6-for-12 for 40 yards. New England's Drew Bledsoe was 7-for-14 for 74 yards with an interception and three sacks as the Patriots lost for the second time in two exhibition tries.

    "It's hard, when you lose 28-zip, to look at positives," Bledsoe said. "But I think we did make some strides."

    Patriots coach Pete Carroll called the team's performance unacceptable.

    "We take very little out of this game," he said. "Group-wise, we're not getting much done."

    Moss was considered one of the top talents in this year's draft, but questions about his character enabled the Vikings to pick him up at No. 21. He caught two passes for 54 yards, and also just missed another touchdown when his toe landed out of bounds.

    "It's hard for a rookie to come into this league and compete," Cunningham said of Moss. "But he has confidence. You don't see that in a rookie too much."

    Rudd was picked 20th in the first round by Minnesota last year. He played in every game and started the final four last season, recording five sacks -- the third-best total ever for a Vikings rookie.

    Meanwhile, New England's picks hav yet to show anything.

    Running back Robert Edwards, who was taken with the 18th pick in the first round, was a scratch because of a groin strain. Cornerback Tebucky Jones, taken later in the first round at No. 22, left the game in the fourth quarter after twisting his left ankle on a special teams play.

    With Edwards out, the Patriots only gained 66 yards on 24 running plays as they try to replace last year's backfield of Curtis Martin, Sam Gash and Dave Meggett.

    "We lost a very good player," offensive lineman Bruce Armstrong said of Martin. "There was never a game last year when we could not run the ball. It was never a question mark.

    "The crucial thing we have to ask is: 'Why isn't the first unit moving the ball?' This was an awful performance. Shades of the early '90s. We have too many good players to let that happen. ... In the regular season this will not happen."

    The Vikings made it 7-0 in the second quarter when Bledsoe's pass to Terry Glenn popped out of Glenn's arms -- thanks to cornerback Corey Fuller's defense -- and into Rudd's arms.

    He ran it in for a touchdown, diving the last yard and bellyflopping into the end zone to give the Vikings the lead.

    "If he gets his hands on the ball, somebody has to get on his horse and catch him. Nobody was going to catch him tonight," Moss said. "And then he did his Superman at the end. I'm happy for him."

    Most the starters were gone by the time Cunningham hooked up with Moss on a 44-yard TD in the third quarter -- Moss' first catch as a pro.

    The Vikings made it 21-0 on an 18-yard pass from Cunningham to Andrew Glover.

    Todd Bouman hit Moe Williams with a 13-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-0 with 9:55 left in the game.

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