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Vikes Shut Down Chiefs 34-0


The Minnesota Vikings' defense was overmatched much of last season and overlooked heading into the exhibition season. So far, the unit simply has been overwhelming.

While

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  • Brad Johnson threw his first touchdown pass in nine months, the Vikings recorded a second consecutive exhibition shutout for the first-time ever with a 34-0 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs Saturday night.

    The Vikings, who beat New England 28-0 last weekend, had six sacks, forced three turnovers and didn't allow the Chiefs to cross midfield until less than 10 minutes remained in the game.

    Pretty impressive for a defense that ranked 29th in the NFL last season.

    "If you would have asked before the preseason started, it probably would be far-fetched to say that we would have two shutouts," said safety Torrian Gray. "So it probably is surprising. But we've come out and all played as a unit and executed our techniques."

    After playing just three series last weekend, Johnson threw 11 yards to Cris Carter for a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.

    Randall Cunningham added two more TD passes in the quarter, a 49-yarder to Matthew Hatchette and a 5-yarder to first-round pick Randy Moss, as the Vikings (2-0) built a 24-0 halftime lead.

    The only other consecutive shutouts in franchise history came during the 1971 regular season, when Minnesota blanked Buffalo and Philadelphia.

    "I think it's awesome," Johnson said of the shutouts. "I think tat's what's going to make it (the offense) better as we go through the year. We have to face those guys every day. They want to rebound from what they had last year, and they're getting better."

    Kansas City's starting offense played the first quarter and managed two first downs and 42 yards. Halfback Donnell Bennett, trying to replace Marcus Allen and Greg Hill, carried seven times for 15 yards.

    Elvis Grbac was 2-for-7 for 12 yards. He was relieved by third-stringer Billy Joe Tolliver to start the second quarter. Tolliver went 6-for-10 for 23 yards and was sacked twice.

    The lone highlight for the Chiefs (2-1) came late in the first quarter when nickel back Mark McMillian, last year's AFC interception leader, picked off Johnson's pass at the Kansas City 2.

    It was the first exhibition shutout for the Chiefs since a 30-0 loss to the Vikings in 1992.

    "They had their way against us, and that's not acceptable," Kansas City coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "And I'm not going to buy into these issues, `Well, they had their first team in against our second team.' It doesn't matter. When you go out to play the game, you have to perform in a winning fashion, and we didn't do that."

    With new owner Red McCombs watching his team play in the Metrodome for the first time -- he sat in the upper deck with Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant part of the night -- the Vikings did their best to impress the largest home exhibition crowd in franchise history.

    The enthusiastic near-sellout crowd of 60,955 made the game seem more like an important regular-season matchup.

    "We're sitting on the sidelines saying, 'This is a preseason game? Just wait until the regular season,"' Cunningham said.

    Cunningham, who took over when Johnson was lost for the year with a neck injury last Dec. 1, took over with a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter. He was 8-for-10 for 140 yards and two TDs, and also led the Vikings 47 yards in 22 seconds to set up Gary Anderson's 34-yard field goal on the last play of the half.

    With both teams playing their third- and fourth-team players, Kansas City finally threatened in the fourth quarter.

    Led by Quarterback Pat Barnes, the Chiefs made it into Vikings territory for the first time on a 28-yard pass to Jesse Haynes with 9:48 remaining. That drive ended when Haynes fumbled at the Minnesota 11 with 7:28 left.

    Barnes also had a pass intercepted in the end zone by rookie Kerry Cooks with 5:14 to play, and Cooks added a second interception two minutes later.

    "Its the preseason and we're playing a lot of new people," Chiefs fullback Kimble Anders said. "They have to play so we know if they can help us during the season. We know we have the talent. We'll be all right."

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