TAMPA, Fla. -- Jeff Garcia takes pride in excelling in a young man's game. Even if it does take a toll on his 38-year-old body.
"It's that Fountain of Youth I walk up to every single day, trying to keep myself as young as possible," the Tampa Bay quarterback said Sunday after leading the Buccaneers to a 19-13 victory against Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings.
Garcia threw for 255 yards without an interception and scrambled for two first downs on a time-consuming go-ahead field goal drive in the fourth quarter. He improved to 4-1 since regaining the starting quarterback job he lost when he played poorly in a season-opening loss.
Coach Jon Gruden benched the three-time Pro Bowl selection because he felt Garcia was not playing with the same reckless abandon he did in helping the Bucs (7-3) make the playoffs last year. Since getting another chance when Brian Griese was injured in Week 5, Garcia has rejuvenated the offense with his ability to improvise and make plays on the run.
"He moves around and you don't know what he's seeing and what he's thinking. That's his game," Gruden said. "He's a creative player, and his legs are his ally. I've tried to be honest with him the whole time. We need his legs and we need his scramble ability, his elusiveness in the pocket."
Peterson ran for 85 yards on 19 carries through three quarters, but his bid for a fifth consecutive 100-yard game fell short when the Vikings ran only eight plays -- none of them runs by the NFL's leading rusher -- in the fourth quarter.
Garcia, who completed 23 of 30 passes, was the main reason. He moved the Bucs 69 yards in 13 plays, burning nearly nine minutes off the clock to take a 16-13 lead on Matt Bryant's third field goal of the game.
Minnesota fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, Tampa Bay (7-3) recovered and Bryant added his fourth field goal for a six-point lead with 3:30 to go. The Vikings (5-5) had two opportunities to put together a winning drive, but turned the ball over on downs with 2:24 left and lost a fumble on their final possession.
"Honestly, I thought the first half we did a pretty good job running the ball. But the second half, we didn't have too many opportunities to run," Peterson said. "It took us totally out of our game. I really think that was the difference."
Bryant had field goals of 39, 26, 29 and 26 yards, and B.J. Askew scored the Bucs' lone touchdown on a 1-yard run in the third quarter. Gus Frerotte threw a 3-yard TD pass to Bobby Wade and Ryan Longwell kicked field goals of 43 and 37 yards in the first half for Minnesota.
"Tough outcome. We knew that we'd have to come down here and play error-free football," Viking coach Brad Childress said. "Probably the only positive is that we've got a chance to win the NFC North. Everybody is 5-5."
Peterson was coming off a 192-yard performance against Green Bay and was trying to match the Vikings' franchise record for consecutive 100-yard games set by Robert Smith in 2000. He gained 51 yards on six carries, but was not nearly as successful the rest of the day -- gaining 14 yards on six attempts in the second half.
The Bucs' defense, which embraced the challenge of facing Peterson for the first time, did not allow a 100-yard rusher in the first eight weeks of the season. Kansas City's Jamaal Charles stopped the streak, but Derrick Brooks and Co. were equal to the task of slowing Peterson.
"He had one or two breakout runs in the first half, but other than that we kept him pretty much under wraps," linebacker Barrett Ruud said.
Trailing 13-6, the Bucs took the second-half kickoff and drove 80 yards in 11 plays to tie the score on Askew's first career TD. Garcia overcame holding penalties on consecutive plays with a 31-yard completion to Jerramy Stevens on second-and-25 from the Vikings 32.
Brooks made one of the biggest defensive plays of the game, breaking up a deep pass intended for Peterson on fourth-and-1 from the Vikings 49, on Minnesota's next possession. The speedy running back might have turned it into a game-changing touchdown if Brooks hadn't made the play.
"This is a great accomplishment by these guys, and we're going to see more top (running backs) down the stretch," Gruden said.
Frerotte completed 14 of 20 passes for 138 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He was sacked five times.
The Bucs played most of the game without leading rusher Earnest Graham, slowed by knee and ankle injuries. Warrick Dunn gained 53 yards on 20 carries, and with Garcia scrambling for 21 yards on six attempts, Tampa Bay finished with 108 yards on the ground.
"These type of games definitely wear on you," Garcia said. "I can't play like this every single weekend, but there were opportunities for me to use my legs today."
- It was the first meeting since 2005 between the former NFC Central rivals. The Bucs have won eight of the past nine played in Tampa.
- Graham limped off after his only carry, a 3-yard gain.