Vikings 28, Giants 16

Big games call for big players.

On an emotional night that got the Minnesota Vikings back in the playoff hunt, Randy Moss had three touchdown catches and Cris Carter added one en route to a 28-16 victory over the New York Giants.

Fading from the NFC playoff race, the Vikings (4-5) turned to their big-play receivers. Moss and Carter combined for 20 catches, 217 yards receiving and several third- and fourth-down conversions.

"I think we gave them a lot of stuff," Giants rookie cornerback Will Allen said. "I don't think they came out and just took it to us. We gave them a lot of stuff."

Moss entered the game with three TDs on the season but had a pair in the first half and a 57-yarder to seal the win with 6:32 to play.

With Moss chewing up yardage, Carter extended drives, making 10 catches for 46 yards. His one-yard TD grab 5:57 into the fourth quarter gave Minnesota the lead for good, 21-16.

"Really, we just wanted to focus on the short passing game and keep the chains short and try to stay out of 3rd-and-long, where they could really put the pressure on us," Carter said.

Daunte Culpepper completed 26-of-38 passes for 277 yards for the Vikings, who moved within a game of the final wild card spot in the NFC. There are a pair of teams at 5-4.

"We played with a lot of pride," Carter said. "We really knew that our backs were against the wall and we had to win this game or we knew the season probably would have been for naught."

Coming off consecutive road losses, the Vikings welcomed a return home, where they won their fourth straight.

"I think we had a rough time on the road," said Green, whose team hosts Chicago next week in a key NFC Central matchup. "But we've been confident that we can win at home, and we've got one more game to do the exact same thing."

The Metrodome crowd was a little extra into it with the halftime ceremony honoring offensive tackle Korey Stringer, who died from complications of heat stroke on August 1. The Vikings retired Stringer's No. 77 jersey.

"Tears were about to run down my face," Culpepper said. "But I had to think what `Big K' wants us to do here right now. He would want us to go out there and play the best football we could play."

The Giants (5-5) took a hit in their postseason push, losing for the fourth time in six games. They host Oakland, which shares the best record in the AFC, next Sunday before going into their bye week.

"We're 5-5 in arguably one of the worst divisions in football," said cornerback Jason Sehorn, who played with a bad knee. "I would venture to say that ... the wild card won't come out of our division."

New York is 1 1/2 games behind first-place Philadelphia in the NFC East.

Giants coach Jim Fassel made a bold prediction last year that his team would make the playoffs after a 7-4 start, then won five straight en route to the Super Bowl. He also made quite a statement after this one.

"We're going to go out and win every game left," said Fassel, whose team lost a rematch of last season's NFC championship. "We're going to have to, and that's the attitude."

On their way to losing the game, the Giants lost their discipline, taking 16 penalties for 150 yards -- their highest total since 1949.

"The penalties, I knew we would have a few more with some false starts and things like that," Fassel said. "But 15 is inexcusable."

The Giants also can point to their inability to stop Moss and Carter, who worked every part of the defense.

Moss opened the scoring 2:29 into the first quarter with a leaping 28-yard catch in the left corner of the end zone. It capped a four-play, 76-yard drive that included a 38-yard pass interference call on Allen.

"The first drive was huge, especially when you get points and you have Randy making plays to get the home crowd excited," Carter said.

The Giants rebounded for a 10-7 lead after the first quarter. Morten Andersen kicked a 43-yard field goal. Culpepper later fumbled and New York turned it into a 41-yard TD drive, capped by Tiki Barber's one-yard run.

Minnesota took back the lead with 3:54 left in the first half. The Giants went with an all-out blitz, leaving Moss wide open down the right sideline for a 25-yard score and a 14-10 lead.

Moss taunted New York in his trot to the end zone, then flexed his muscles for the fans at the Metrodome, resulting in a 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff.

Carter, who took Moss under his wing when he was selected as a so-called troubled star in the 1998 draft, was unhappy with his teammate's antics and screamed at him on the bench.

Overcoming their barrage of penalties, the Giants grabbed a 16-14 lead on a pair of field goals by Andersen. After hitting the crossbar from 52 yards at the half, he made a 51-yarder 3:32 into the third quarter to give New York its last lead.

The Vikings chewed up nearly nine minutes with their go-ahead drive -- a 14-play, 62-yard march. Culpepper converted a pair of third downs, including a five-yard pass to Carter on 3rd-and-4 near midfield.

With Moss on the sidelines, Carter scored his touchdown on 4th-and-goal from the 1. After lining up in the backfield, he snuck through the line and was left uncovered in the left side of the end zone.

The Giants went three-and-out on their next possession and Moss followed with another third-down conversion and TD. He crossed over the middle on 3rd-and-15, made the catch and outraced safety Shaun Williams for a 57-yard score.

The Vikings were 7-of-12 on third-down conversions and 2-of-2 on fourth downs.

Moss finished with 171 yards receiving and his third career three-touchdown game. His other two came in his rookie season.

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