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Vikes Survive Broncos' Scare


For 13 NFL seasons, Cris Carter has been a big-play artist. So when he says Sunday was a special performance, it means something.

Carter, helped by Leroy Hoard and Randy Moss, brought the big play back to Minnesota's repertoire in a 23-20 victory over Denver. The Vikings marched 73 yards in 13 plays, the most significant involving Carter, to Gary Anderson's 23-yard field goal with one second remaining.

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Game Summary

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  • "It was one of those kind of games that are hard to describe," Carter said after scoring two touchdowns and making eight receptions for 144 yards, with five for 87 in the fourth quarter. "It was as if it was in slow motion, and on some plays the ball was just hanging there for me."

    "I knew they would put a lot of pressure on Randy. I was looking forward to going against Ray Crockett. It was a challenge to me."

    He answered it with the kind of game only the best players provide.

    "That's why he is Cris Carter and he's going to the Hall of Fame," Jeff George said. "A quarterback in the clutch needs guys he knows will be there. Cris has a great feel for the open area."

    Hoard found lots of open area, too, rushing for 84 yards. He got 53 in stunning fashion, on a third-and-37 in the second quarter.

    "Everybody in the stadium said, `His slow butt won't get that,' " Hoard said with a laugh. "I'm not going to be making too many third-and-37s."

    Moss was double-covered all day, but he did make a 23-yard reception to open the final drive. Then he caught a ball tipped by cornerback Crockett who was torched all day to convert a third-and-10 on the winning drive.

    "Something inside tod me he was going to throw the ball to Cris," Moss said, "and my eyes saw the guy's hand bat the ball down, and it fell in my pocket."

    Carter made a sensational tip-toe sideline catch to the 3 before Anderson's kick.

    "Cris came up big on a couple of catches and made an incredible catch on the sidelines," Crockett said.

    Minnesota, a league-best 15-1 last year, got back to .500 at 4-4. Denver, which won the last two Super Bowls, sank to 2-6, its worst halfway mark since 1972. The Broncos were victimized by inexperienced quarterback Brian Griese, who was picked off once for a touchdown and also lost a fumble. He was sacked four times.

    "I didn't help, turning the ball over," he said. "If I don't turn the ball over on the 4, we win the game."

    "I've never been in this situation before. Morale is not good. I am going to fight and anybody who wants to fight with me can come along."

    If not for the play of receiver Rod Smith and some sharp running by rookie Olandis Gary, Denver would have fallen out of contention after opening a 12-0 lead. Instead, the Broncos tied it 20-20 on Griese's 1-yard pass to Byron Chamberlain after Smith made leaping catches of 25 and 18 yards.

    Gary, who rushed for 79 yards, ran in the 2-point conversion.

    Denver looked like a two-time champion early as Derek Loville burst through for a 36-yard touchdown only 2:48 into the game.

    The Broncos made it 9-0 when Trevor Pryce sacked George in the end zone only 1:35 later. And with Gary continuing his strong running, they moved 66 yards to Jason Elam's 19-yard field goal.

    But then they began making errors, and the Vikings gratefully took advantage. Griese made a bad pitch to Gary, and Minnesota's Duane Clemons recovered at the Vikings 41.

    Griese, perhaps rattled by a strong pass rush, later made a poor throw off the wrong foot from his 15. Orlando Thomas, who whiffed on a tackle on Loville's touchdown, picked it off and sped 27 yards into the end zone.

    Two plays after Hoard's long run, Carter beat Tory James down the right sideline for a 37-yard TD and a 13-12 lead. A conversion pass failed.

    The Broncos weren't through being charitable. Griese engineerd a spiffy drive of 74 yards, but fumbled on a run at the 4. Elam also missed a 37-yard field goal.

    Notes

  • Denver, which already has lost Terrell Davis and John Mobley for the season and Shannon Sharpe for two months, lost DE Alfred Williams with a ruptured right Achilles' tendon. Receiver Ed McCaffrey sprained his left knee and will have an MRI Monday. Loville reinjured his hamstring.
  • Chamberlain had his first career TD catch.
  • Loville's run also was a career best
  • Carter's 144 yards receiving put him over 11,000 for his career
  • Chris Doleman sacked Griese twice.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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