AP Story: Vikings Defeat Packers 31 - 21


It doesn't matter how well Green Bay is playing. The Packers always seem to have trouble in Minnesota.

Daunte Culpepper threw for two touchdowns and ran for another one, and the Vikings intercepted Brett Favre three times Sunday in a 31-21 victory.

The Packers (8-2) have lost nine of 11 at the Metrodome and missed out on a chance to become the earliest team to clinch a division title in a 16-game season.

Michael Bennett ran for 130 yards on 20 carries. His 62-yard run just before the 2-minute warning in the fourth quarter set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Moe Williams - his 10th of the year for the Vikings (3-7).

Minnesota's 31st-ranked defense held Ahman Green to 71 yards and kept Favre - who was 24-of-42 for 296 yards and two touchdowns - completely out of rhythm in the fourth quarter.

Despite adding three more turnovers to his league-high total of 22, Culpepper was 13-for-26 for 217 yards and lost one of his three fumbles. Randy Moss caught six passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.

Down by two scores in the third, Favre threw a 24-yard pass to Bubba Franks on fourth-and-1. After Lance Johnstone's second third-down roughing-the-passer penalty, Favre found Franks again for a 1-yard TD pass that cut the lead to 21-14.

Minnesota's Greg Biekert intercepted Favre twice, but both times Culpepper gave Green Bay the ball right back. Biekert returned his second pick to the Green Bay 5, but Culpepper fumbled the snap on third-and-goal at the 1.

Early in the fourth, Favre completed a third-and-10 pass to Donald Driver, whose catch and run turned into an 84-yard TD that tied the game at 21.

Gary Anderson's 32-yard field goal with 7:16 left put the Vikings up 24-21, and then their defense forced Favre into two straight three-and-outs before Bennett's run put the game away.

The game began ominously for the Packers, as it has so many times for them in Minnesota over the last decade.

Last season, Green Bay came into the game with a 4-1 record and fell behind 20-0 at halftime. Sure enough, Minnesota went up 14-0 barely eight minutes into this game and made 10 first downs to Green Bay's one in the first quarter.

Culpepper, benched in favor of Todd Bouman in the fourth quarter of last week's loss to the New York Giants, led Minnesota on a five-play, 79-yard drive that ended on a 29-yard TD pass to Moss for its first score.

Then the Vikings stopped Green for no gain on third-and-2 and forced a punt by Josh Bidwell that netted only 27 yards.

Capping a drive kept alive by a third-down pass interference penalty on Tyrone Williams, Culpepper lofted an 18-yard pass to D'Wayne Bates - who jumped over Williams' shoulder for the touchdown to put the Vikings up by two touchdowns.

The Packers drove 63 yards to pull to 14-7 on Green's 1-yard touchdown run. Thirty of those yards came on penalties.

Minnesota took the momentum back in the third quarter with an 81-yard drive, 28 coming on a pass interference penalty on Williams. Culpepper scored on a rollout, his fifth rushing TD of the season, to make it 21-7.

-- Associated Press

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