MINNEAPOLIS -- After another loss to the New York Giants, Mike Tice walked into the interview room and announced the only good news of the afternoon for Minnesota.
"The Giants are not on our schedule next year," the coach said. "Thank God."
Thanks to a swarming defense, some tough runs by Tiki Barber, a few big catches by Jeremy Shockey and a turnover-free performance by Kurt Warner, the Giants beat the Vikings, 34-13, yesterday.
Going back to their 41-0 loss in the NFC championship game that followed the 2000 season, the Vikings haven't had much luck against New York. This was their third straight loss to the Giants -- all at home.
"For some reason, we just have great performances here," said Barber, who rushed 24 times for 101 yards and two short touchdowns. Shockey caught three balls for 60 yards, Warner went 13 for 21 for 144 yards, and New York (5-2) finally solved its red zone struggles by scoring all five times it reached the Minnesota 20 -- including four TDs. Backup Mike Cloud scored twice on short runs in the second half.
Randy Moss was in street clothes after halftime, going without a catch for the second straight game while a strained right hamstring kept him from running at full speed. Moss didn't aggravate the injury, but felt some tightness and the Vikings didn't want to risk it. "We've got to find a new personality until Randy's healthy," Tice said.
The Vikings (5-2) sure could have used him, because their prolific offense had by far the worst performance of the season. Culpepper finished 24 for 42 for 231 yards, one late touchdown, and two interceptions.
"Everything that could've went bad for us did," said Culpepper.
Rookie Mewelde Moore, who had 610 total yards in the last three games, was held to 29 yards on eight carries.
"I think we're a little spoiled, because we're used to putting up a lot of points," left tackle Bryant McKinnie said.
Culpepper threw a swing pass on the opening possession that glanced off Moore's hands and helmet that appeared to be an incompletion -- but Kevin Lewis scooped up the ball and returned it 16 yards to the Minnesota 22. It was ruled a fumble because the throw went behind the line of scrimmage.
A 38-yard pass interference penalty on Corey Chavous set up Barber's first touchdown, making it 10-0 a little more than seven minutes into the game.
Culpepper was intercepted by Gibril Wilson late in the first quarter, leading to Barber's next score. Marcus Robinson, who led the Vikings with 91 yards receiving, hauled in a 32-yard pass on the ensuing drive that reached the Giants 21 -- but Morten Andersen banged a 38-yard field goal off the left upright after a low snap by Cullen Loeffler.