Daunte Culpepper threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score as the Vikings held on to beat the Lions 38-36 Sunday.
|Vikings safety Corey Chavous returns an interception 43 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.(CBS SportsLine Original)|
"It may not mean a lot to a lot of people, but being able to finish with one more win than last year gives you something that you can reach out and touch," Tice said. "We probably are a little bit better than our record. I don't think we're a 6-10 team."
The Lions (3-13) also improved on last year's 2-14 record, but that won't be much consolation to coach Marty Mornhinweg or chief executive Matt Millen. Detroit lost its final eight games and put together the worst two-year stretch (5-27) in franchise history.
Team owner William Clay Ford Sr. said he will decide whether Mornhinweg and Millen will be back for a third year. Millen was expected to talk by phone Sunday night with Ford, who is vacationing in Florida.
Mornhinweg, a head coach for the first time at any level, was asked why he should be back.
"I'm not answering those questions," he said. "But I will say this franchise is primed for some success."
Like they've often done during the Millen-Mornhinweg era, the Lions came close to winning Sunday.
Gary Anderson's 18-yard field goal put the Vikings ahead by eight with 1:09 left, but Mike McMahon's third TD pass -- a 19-yarder to Scotty Anderson -- got Detroit within two with 13 seconds left. The Vikings won when McMahon's 2-point conversion pass was incomplete.
Culpepper, who was 21-of-29 for 312 yards, injured his left foot during the game, but he wanted another opportunity to play.
"We definitely wish we had a chance at the postseason, because we feel we could make some noise," said Culpepper, who led Minnesota to wins over Miami and New Orleans this month.
Randy Moss caught six passes for 109 yards but was hindered late in the game with a sprained left knee. Moss refused to answer any questions after the game.
Kelly Campbell caught four passes for 60 yards and two TDs, which doubled the rookie's season total.
McMahon, in his second consecutive start for Joey Harrington, who was sidelined with an irregular heartbeat, was 19-of-44 for 293 yards with three TDs and three interceptions.
"I figured, hey, let's have some fun, so I took some shots downfield and the guys made some plays," McMahon said.
Bill Schroeder caught six passes for 132 yards and a TD for Detroit.
The teams combined for scores on the first five possessions and 35 points in the first 18:11 -- a lot of action for a game that meant little for both teams in the standings. Minnesota led 28-17 at halftime.
Lions rookie Andre Goodman intercepted a lob thrown well short of Moss just outside the end zone on the first drive of the second half. Detroit drove from its 5 to the Vikings 1, but McMahon threw three incomplete passes and James Stewart was stuffed on a run.
On Minnesota's next play, Kalimba Edwards stripped the ball from Culpepper in the end zone, and Robert Porcher recovered the fumble for his first career score to cut Detroit's deficit to 28-24 with 5:41 left in the third quarter.
Culpepper's second TD pass to Campbell gave the Vikings a 35-24 lead late in the third.
It appeared the Vikings were going to put Detroit away for good when Brian Williams' interception set up a field-goal attempt, but Detroit's Shaun Rogers blocked the kick and Todd Lyght returned it 75 yards for a score.
The Lions then forced Minnesota to punt, but McMahon's up-for-grabs pass was picked off by Eric Kelly at Minnesota's 27.
The Vikings were able to run out much of the clock on Culpepper's sneak on a fourth-and-inches at Detroit's 38, and Moe William's 25-yard draw on third-and-8 before Anderson's field goal.
- Minnesota's Michael Bennett ran for 82 yards and finished with the second-highest total (1,296) in team history.
- The Lions are 5-17 in single-digit games the past two seasons.
- Stewart ran for 25 yards on 11 carries to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his eight-year career.
The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 2002, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved