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Performance on Moss earns Panthers raves

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By DARRELL FRY

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 11, 2001


Know what the hottest film of the fall season is going to be? Around the NFL, it's going to be the one of Carolina's 24-13 upset of Minnesota.

The film contains never before seen footage of how to stop Vikings receiver Randy Moss (one catch for 28 yards), which ought to make it a must-see flick for every defensive coordinator from here to Seattle.

Basically, the Panthers double- and sometimes triple-covered Moss, daring Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper to try to force the ball his way. Culpepper obliged and the Panthers made him pay, picking off three passes, two in the red zone.

"A couple of times I tried to force the ball down the field," Culpepper said. "I have to hit the other guys ... and then come back to Randy. Our motto on offense is take what they give you, and I kind of got beside myself trying to get downfield."

Culpepper is not likely to make the same mistakes again, but you have to figure other teams will at least consider trying to take away Moss and dare someone else to beat them.

Of more concern to the Vikings should be the impact this loss might have on their season. After all, Minnesota has the toughest schedule in the league. Beating Carolina was supposed to be one of its few gimmes.

Instead, the Vikings already are swimming upstream at 0-1. Up next are none other than the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on the road. If the Vikings thought being 0-1 was bad, imagine how they'll feel if they fall to 0-2.

MAYBE HE DIDN'T WANT TO GET HIS HANDS DIRTY: The wimpy tackle of the year so far has to go to former Bucs quarterback Vinny Testaverde. It was embarrassing enough that his attempted handoff wound up in the hands of Colts defensive end Chukie Nwokorie, who ran 95 yards for the touchdown. What was worse was Testaverde's lame attempts to try to tackle Nwokorie.

You have to believe Testaverde got plenty of ribbing about that during the Jets' film session Monday.

DID YOU KNOW?: It may not have been a good opening day for the six new head coaches in the league (they all lost their debuts), but it was a pretty decent day for quarterbacks with new teams. They went a combined 6-3.

DID YOU KNOW II?: Among the seven-man crew of replacement officials who worked Sunday night's nationally televised Miami-Tennessee game was Larry Upson, the league's director of officiating who was the back judge, and Casey Moreland, the umpire, who worked a high school game two nights earlier.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Bears rookie receiver David Terrell, who obviously took one too many shots to the head in Baltimore's 17-6 win over Chicago: "They might be the world champions, but maybe we're better."

HURTIN' IN BEANTOWN: You had to figure New England, which went 5-11 last season, was going to be bad, but a loss to Cincinnati?

Frustration isn't even the word for what the Patriots are feeling.

"We can't let this happen again," defensive end Bobby Hamilton said. "No way, dawg. Nah, dawg. We ain't gonna let this happen this year. We've got too many guys in this room who won't let last year happen again."

WHAT WOULD YOU CALL IT?: Moss wouldn't admit that the Panthers shut him down. "I don't get shut down," he told reporters after the game.

Okay, Randy. What do you think it means when you're held to one catch for 28 yards?

"I don't know what it means," he said, "but I don't get shut down."

Sure, you don't, Randy. Sure, you don't.

- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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