MINNEAPOLIS, OCT. 26 -- Darrin Nelson's runs of 72 and 16 yards set up two of D.J. Dozier's three short rushing touchdowns tonight as the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Denver Broncos, 34-27, in the teams' first game since the NFL strike ended.
The Vikings, who are 3-0 with their regular players but whose replacements went 0-3 during the 24-day strike, won even though Wade Wilson was intercepted five times.
Minnesota was helped by the Broncos' sloppy play. They were penalized 10 times for 128 yards. Denver was 1-0-1 before the strike and 2-1 during it.
Tonight's game was moved back a day so the Minnesota Twins could host the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the World Series Sunday. A crowd of 51,011 attended; there were 7,716 no-shows.
John Elway's 25-yard touchdown pass to Vance Johnson and Elway's one-yard touchdown dive helped Denver to a 17-14 halftime lead.
However, on the second half's first play from scrimmage, Nelson took off on the longest non-scoring run in Vikings history. Nelson, who benefitted from the strike because he had been trying to recover from a knee injury, raced through a hole, cut behind the right tackle and sprinted down the right sideline to Denver's 3-yard line.
On the next play, Dozier went around left tackle and into the end zone untouched for a 20-17 Minnesota lead. Later in the third quarter, Nelson's spinning 16-yard run put Dozier in position for a five-yard touchdown run.
Wilson, whose one-yard touchdown dive had tied the game, 7-7, then hit Leo Lewis for a five-yard scoring pass 2:45 into the fourth quarter that made it 34-17.
The Broncos closed to 34-27 as Elway threw a four-yard scoring pass to Gene Lang with 5:29 to play and then, following Wilson's fifth interception, Rich Karlis kicked a 51-yard field goal with 3:13 left.
There appeared to be only one serious injury in the game, to Denver running back Gerald Willhite early in the second quarter. At the end of a 29-yard run, longest of the year for the Broncos, Willhite was collared by Joey Browner just short of the end zone. Willhite came down hard on his right leg and X-rays revealed that the leg was fractured.
Denver 7 10 0 10 27 Minnesota 7 7 13 7 34
D -- Johnson 25 pass from Elway (Karlis kick), 7:53
M -- W. Wilson 1 run (C. Nelson kick), 11:23 Second Quarter
D -- Elway 1 run (Karlis kick), 1:18
M -- Dozier 1 run (C.Nelson kick), 5:42
D -- FG Karlis 43, 14:23 Third Quarter
M -- Dozier 3 run (kick failed), 1:16
M -- Dozier 5 run (C. Nelson kick), 14:02 Fourth Quarter
M -- Lewis 5 pass from W. Wilson (C. Nelson kick), 2:45
D -- Lang 4 pass from Elway (Karlis kick), 9:31
D -- FG Karlis 51, 11:47
A -- 51,011
Broncos Vikings First downs 21 27 Rushes-yards 27-123 36-197 Passing yards 206 196 Return yards 63 21 Passing 22-39-1 13-23-5 Sacked-yards lost 5-39 1-1 Punts-average 6-39 3-39 Fumbles-lost 2-0 0-0 Penalties-yards 10-128 4-29 Time of possession 33:3
RUSHING -- Denver: Willhite 8-57, Elway 7-37, Winder 9-26, Sewell 1-9, Lang 2-minus 6. Minnesota: D. Nelson
PASSING -- Denver: Elway 22-39-1, 245 yards. Minnesota: W. Wilson 13-23-5, 197.
RECEIVING -- Denver: Jackson 5-52, Johnson 5-48, Kay 4-63, Nattiel 3-32, Lang 2-15, Massie 1-19, Bell 1-8,