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Halloween horror

Everything that could go wrong for the Vikings did

MINNEAPOLIS -- If you decided to watch the Vikings instead of raking leaves, walking the dog or changing your oil, that was probably a mistake.

If you decided to watch the Vikings instead of visiting grandma, combing your cat or doing the laundry, that was also probably a mistake.

For the Vikings, it was horrors and more horrors in Sunday's Halloween game against the New York Giants at the Metrodome. The final score was Giants 34, Vikings 13 in a game that wasn't that close. The Giants opened up a 34-0 lead before the Vikings even scored.

To make the holiday complete, there were even some boos.

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The Vikings took a 5-1 record and a four-game winning streak into the game. They were seven-point favorites.

Former Vikings coach Bud Grant used to have two words for what happened to a team that lost like that.

"Murphy's law,'' he would say.

That means, of course, that anything that can go wrong does go wrong.

And that was the story for the Vikings Sunday.

There was the pass from Daunte Culpepper to Mewelde Moore on the fourth play of the game that turned out to be a lateral that the Giants recovered and turned into the first three points of the game.

Vikings coach Mike Tice challenged the call and lost.

There was a 38-yard interference call on Corey Chavous that set up the Giants first touchdown.

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There was a punt that the Giants batted back at the goal line and was downed at the Vikings' 1-yard line. Tice also challenged that call and lost, meaning the Vikings were out of challenges before the first quarter was over.

The Vikings did move the ball from the 1-yard line all the way to the Giants' 39, but Culpepper, who had thrown only three interceptions all season, had a pass picked off by Gabril Wilson. That led to the Giants second TD.

The Vikings moved into field goal position, but a 38-yard attempt by Morten Andersen doinked off the left upright and back on to the field.

There was more.

Vikings' all-world wide receiver Randy Moss tried to play, but his hamstring injury kept him on the sidelines in a warmup suit for the entire second half.

Defensive end Kenechi Udeze, linebacker Raonall Smith and Moore all left the game with injuries of one sort or another.

Darren Bennett had a punt partially blocked and it went only nine yards.

Oh yes, New York quarterback Kurt Warner fumbled three times and, you guessed it, the Giants recovered all three of them.

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"I don't know what else could have gone wrong,'' Culpepper said. "It wasn't our day.''

Culpepper, who had a quarterback rating of 124.0 going into the game, finished the game with a 60.7 rating, completing 24 of 42 passes for 231 yards and one TD with two interceptions.

"The only good news I have is that we don't play the Giants next season,'' Tice said.

It was the third straight season the Giants beat the Vikings at the Metrodome. Last year the Vikings were 6-0 when they fell to the Giants. Minnesota won only three games the rest of the season.

"We did a lot of things poorly,'' Tice said of the performance turned in by the Vikings Sunday. "We normally don't have turnovers. Today we had turnovers (three). We're normally good on third downs, today it seemed like we had more three-and-outs (four, all in the first half) than we've had all season. We couldn't sustain our blocks. We couldn't run the ball. And Mewelde had an off day.''

Moore, the rookie who had accounted for 610 yards in the previous three games, rushed for 29 yards (on 8 carries) and caught one pass for 26 yards before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle.

Michael Bennett, back for only the second game after missing the first five, saw his most extensive action of the season, but he didn't fare any better than Moore. Bennett rushed for 20 yards and caught six passes for 18 yards.

"We were way off today,'' Tice said. "It wasn't until the end that we had any rhythm at all, but all those were stat yards, yards you get when the other team has things wrapped up.''

If the Vikings don't turn things around, and that task won't be easy, they could find themselves in the same situation they were in last season. Minnesota travels to Indianapolis next Monday night to face the high-powered Colts and then they go to Green Bay for a Nov. 14 game against the rejuvenated Packers, who have now won three in a row.

Culpepper doesn't think it will be a repeat of what happened to the Vikings last season.

"I don't buy into that,'' he said. "This is a totally different team than we had last year. I feel we've got what it takes to win week-in and week-out, even with Randy out of the lineup. The important thing now is to just get ready for Indianapolis.''

Bob Brown is executive sports editor of the Post-Bulletin. He can be reached at brown@postbulletin.com

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