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Moss's Return Yields Victory for Vikings

Receiver Back From Hamstring Injury: Vikings 27, Jaguars 16

By Dave Campbell
Associated Press
Monday, November 29, 2004; Page D11

MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 28 -- Randy Moss and the Minnesota Vikings were energized by their reunion, giving them good hope for a late-season surge.

Moss caught a go-ahead touchdown pass in the third quarter, Kevin Williams returned Byron Leftwich's fumble 77 yards for the clinching score and the Vikings beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-16, on Sunday.

Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper (11) celebrate teammate Kevin William's fumble return for a late touchdown. (Eric Miller -- Reuters)

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"His presence is like so humongous for us," teammate Onterrio Smith said. "We were talking about what he was going to wear to the stadium. That's how fired up Randy was."

His hamstring finally healed, Moss had four receptions -- his first in six weeks -- for 40 yards after playing the majority of Minnesota's snaps. He politely declined to comment after the game with a shake of his head, but everybody else gladly spoke for him.

"To have Randy back, it lifts our spirits a little bit," said quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who completed 19 of 27 passes for 235 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Culpepper scored on a one-yard run in the first half, but committed what could've been a costly fumble in the fourth quarter.

Leading 20-16, the Vikings were on their way to another clock-eating touchdown drive when Culpepper was sacked by Bobby McCray at the Jacksonville 22. The fumble was recovered by Marcus Stroud with 7 minutes 46 seconds remaining, and the Jaguars marched to the other end before Leftwich fumbled away their chance.

Leftwich, kept out of the last two games with a sprained left knee, was sacked from behind by rookie Kenechi Udeze just before the two-minute warning on third and six from the 19.

The ball popped out and Williams picked it up on his way to an exhausting touchdown for the Vikings (7-4).

"If I would've seen him, I would've ducked," said Leftwich, who went 19 for 34 for 235 yards and one touchdown.

The Jaguars (6-5) lost for the third time in four games and are suddenly in trouble in the crowded AFC playoff race. They host 10-1 Pittsburgh next Sunday.

"The window is closing," Coach Jack Del Rio said. "The only thing we can control is next week."

Smith carried 20 times for 72 yards for the Vikings. Jermaine Wiggins caught four passes for 55 yards, and Marcus Robinson had four for 48 yards.

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