Vikings 20, Dolphins 17
The Minnesota Vikings had nothing to lose. So why not let Randy Moss throw the ball and send a 43-year-old kicker out for his longest field goal attempt in four years?
Moss threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to give Minnesota the lead early in the fourth quarter, and Gary Anderson's 53-yard kick with 17 seconds left gave the Vikings a 20-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins today.
Anderson's previous long this season was 44 yards, and his last successful attempt of 50 yards or more was a 53-yarder on Dec. 20, 1998, against Jacksonville.
Even though Anderson hadn't attempted a field goal as long as 53 yards since that game against the Jaguars, the NFL's all-time leading scorer was confident.
"You've got to bring your driver out," Anderson said with a laugh. "It's not a 5-iron shot."
The defeat prevented the Dolphins (9-6) from clinching a playoff spot. They lead New England by a half-game in the AFC East and can win the division by beating the Patriots in Foxboro, Mass., next week. A loss could leave them out of the playoffs.
"Life is simple for the next seven days," said defensive end Jason Taylor, who had 11/2 of his league-leading 181/2 sacks. "Win, or we're home for New Year's."
Moss, named to his fourth Pro Bowl this year after being left off last season, had seven receptions for 110 yards. He has 100 catches this season, 18 more than the career high he set last year.
The Vikings (5-10) continued taking risks, six days after Daunte Culpepper ran for a two-point conversion with 10 seconds left in a 32-31 victory at New Orleans. A kick would've sent the game into overtime.
Culpepper kept the pivotal drive going today by running three yards on fourth and two at the Miami 45. Minnesota Coach Mike Tice sent the punt team out, but he called a timeout and changed his mind as Vikings fans urged them to go for it.
"I heard them," Tice said. "What the heck. They deserve some fun. They've been through a long season."
The Vikings reached the 35, and Anderson made the line-drive kick. It curled right, grazed the right upright and sneaked over the crossbar.
"Everyone said he didn't have the leg," center Matt Birk said. "But he showed he had it, boy."
Three plays after he caught a 60-yard pass from Daunte Culpepper, Moss took the handoff, juked safety Shawn Wooden and threw the touchdown pass to D'Wayne Bates, giving the Vikings a 17-14 lead with 11 minutes 53 seconds remaining.
Bates was covered, so Moss intentionally threw the ball behind him.
"Big-time players make big plays," Tice said.