EDEN PRAIRIE (AP) -- The Minnesota Vikings, one of the NFL's elite teams not so long ago, are slipping into a Monday routine: Analyzing what went wrong on Sunday.
Daunte Culpepper turned in another poor performance, throwing a career-high four interceptions and fumbling once. He was also sacked five times as Carolina's defense pounded Minnesota's offensive line in the Panthers' 21-14 win.
Not helping matters, the Vikings defense again wore down in the fourth quarter and Minnesota dropped to 0-3, the team's worst start since 1967, Bud Grant's first year as coach.
Still, coach Mike Tice and the players said Monday it was too early to give up on the Vikings' offensive plan, which depends heavily on getting the ball to Randy Moss. Ironically, all of Culpepper's interceptions were passes intended for Moss, who often drew double coverage.
"There were some decisions I wish he would have made better," Tice said of Culpepper. "The turnovers seem to be haunting him."
Culpepper vowed to play better on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, another 0-3 team.
"Going 0-4 is not an option," Culpepper said.
Tice said the Vikings have to try harder to get a running game going against the Seahawks. After watching game film, he noted the Vikings used nine different running plays only once.
"To me, that means we did not have the patience in the running game," he said.
Culpepper, with 32 yards on four carries, was the team's top rusher. Without much of a running attack to defend, Carolina's secondary put the clamps on Moss, who caught only four balls for 16 yards.
Sideline bickering, which erupted during the team's 5-11 season a year ago, returned, with Culpepper shouting at Moss after one of his interceptions.
Culpepper downplayed the incident with Moss.
"Randy and I are very close and we expect a lot out of each other," Culpepper said Monday. "There's really no reason to make a big deal about it."
The stalled offense negated what may have been the defense's best game of the season. Although they tired out in the fourth quarter for the third consecutive game, the Vikings defense had given the offense several opportunities to score in the previous three quarters. Carolina's first touchdown came after Culpepper was intercepted deep in Minnesota territory.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.