GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Daunte Culpepper, bruised, battered and no longer unbeaten, is daring the Green Bay Packers to blitz him like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did.
"Someone might try to copycat somebody, but they might not have the same personnel on defense," the Minnesota Vikings' undaunted quarterback said as he recovered from the Buccaneer's 41-13 whooping and prepared for Monday night's showdown at Lambeau Field.
"We'll be happy if they blitz, because we'll be in 1-on-1 situations," added Culpepper, relishing the notion of Randy Moss and Cris Carter burning Packers' cornerbacks Tyrone Williams and Mike McKenzie.
Culpepper lost a fumble and threw two interceptions in the face of Tampa Bay's unceasing blitzkrieg of the previously unbeaten Vikings last week.
"We like the blitz," Vikings coach Dennis Green said. "Tampa does a better job of it, because they bring more speed."
And the Vikings don't think it's a blueprint on how to beat them.
"We get blitzed more than other teams," center Matt Birk said. "It's something we expect. Our attitude has to be to welcome the blitz. Then you have man-to-man coverage against our receivers, and no one can cover them 1-on-1. The blitz isn't anything you should be scared of."
The Packers (3-5) must find some way to beat the Vikings (7-1) and keep their slim playoff hopes alive, and so far they've been at their best when new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell has turned his troops loose on the passer.
And that will probably be his plan to contain Moss, who has scored six TDs and averaged 24.4 yards on 20 catches against the Packers.
Moss has eight TD receptions this year, and has plenty to do with Robert Smith's big year, too.
With defenses unwilling to play eight men against the run, keeping safeties in coverage to help shut down Moss, Smith has averaged 5.2 yards a carry.
"There's no way you can take care of every one of those weapons on every single play," Donatell said. "If you did, then you'd have a Hall of Fame defense."
Green is concerned about his own defense, which has only 13 sacks and three interceptions.
"We have to figure out a way to play better defense," he said.
And they'll have to do so without free safety Orlando Thomas (shoulder), who's out for two months, forcing untested rookie Tyrone Carter into the starting lineup Monday night.
"Believe me, Tyrone Carter is being rushed into play," Green said. "You can't just step in there."
Still, Green called Carter a ball hawk who can hold his own.
Carter is only 5-feet-8, but he won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back last year at the University of Minnesota, and his 414 solo tackles are an NCAA Division 1-A record.
Green said he didn't expect the Packers to exploit Carter, whom defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas calls "a short big man."
"It's hard to go after a free safety," Green said. "You go after running backs, quarterbacks. It's hard to go after a guy who's sitting in the middle."
Culpepper, a veteran of all of eight starts, offered some advice to Carter.
"I just told him to do what he does -- make plays," Culpepper said. "That's what he's done all his career."
Besides, Carter is accustomed to dashing debuts.
He had three touchdowns in his first start in high school and set an NCAA mark with two fumble recoveries for scores in his first collegiate start against Syracuse.
"So I'm looking forward to scoring one on Monday night," he said.
Unlike his coach, Carter expects he'll get picked on.
"No doubt. Brett Favre or any quarterback will look for the weak link," Carter said. "That's his job."
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