SAN ANTONIO -- Daunte Culpepper gave the Minnesota Vikings an emotional boost in their first game since Korey Stringer's death.
Culpepper threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss and ran 11 yards for another score as the Vikings opened the exhibition season with a 28-21 victory over New Orleans on Saturday.
"He's always going to be on my mind," Culpepper said. "It's tough going out to play, but we always keep him in our thoughts. The passion for the game is still there. We showed a glimpse of that tonight. We showed a lot of great things but there's a long way to go."
"I was fairly pleased with my performance because we've had only 10 days to prepare for this game."
The Vikings have been in turmoil since July 31 when Stringer, the Pro Bowl offensive tackle, collapsed following a practice in Mankato, Minn., and died the following day of heatstroke.
"It's time to play football," Vikings coach Dennis Green said. "Any time we play we try to play well. I thought we played OK, we just made a lot of mistakes. We looked like everybody else is looking right now in preseason.
"You hope your team is ready, I didn't think we were on Wednesday or Thursday this week but tonight we were. You hope your guys take advantage of the situation and are ready to play."
Vikings players wore football-shaped patches on the left side of their jerseys bearing Stringer's No. 77 and joined the 46,752 fans in the Alamodome in a moment of silence before the kickoff.
Culpepper wasted no time in getting the Vikings thinking about football, leading them to a 21-7 halftime lead before sitting down for the rest of the game.
The quarterback ran 21 yards on Minnesota's first offensive play and needed only three plays to get a touchdown on the 60-yard pass to Moss, who pulled well ahead of cornerback Fred Weary.
"I think we responded well," receiver Cris Carter said. "We played one of the better teams in the NFC tonight We can do some exciting things. I am somewhat pleased.
"You think about it (Stringer) all the time, but the game gets going, it's so fast you don't have time to think about it. The competition is there and you have to think about that first."
Culpepper ran 11 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter before Todd Bouman replaced him and led the Vikings to a 1-yard touchdown dive by Michael Bennett, Minnesota's No. 1 draft pick.
Culpepper rushed four times for 66 yards and was 3-for-8 for 75 yards passing.
Saints reserve Jake Delhomme almost upstaged Culpepper. Delhomme threw second-half touchdown passes of 11 yards to Deuce McAllister and 6 yards to Onome Ojo to cut the lead and had the Saints on the Vikings' goal line as the game ended.
"The positive thing is that we hung on and we were in the game at the end," New Orleans coach Jim Haslett said. "We had a chance to tie the game. We couldn't get the snap off and we regrouped. We were 20 yards away from tying the game."
Aaron Brooks started at quarterback for the Saints instead of Jeff Blake, who started the first 11 games last season before he fractured and dislocated his left foot. Brooks replaced him and led the Saints to their first playoff victory in the team's history, 31-28 over St. Louis.
Resuming his quest for the starting job, Brooks was 10-of-10 for 129 yards and hit Willie Jackson with a 23-yard touchdown pass with 2:56 left in the first quarter.
"I'm not going to judge myself on one performance," Brooks said. "I've got to keep working and I'll leave it up to the coaches to make the decision."
Linebacker Craig Sauer intercepted Blake's pass in the second quarter, setting up Bennett's touchdown run. Blake also was sacked four times and drew an unsportsmanlike penalty for throwing the football at a Minnesota player after he was tackled. Blake also fumbled once.
The Vikings eliminated the Saints in the second round of last season's playoffs, 34-16.
Former University of Texas running back Ricky Williams played briefly for New Orleans. He rushed five times for minus-2 yards and caught one pass for 8 yards.
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