MINNEAPOLIS -- Todd Bouman has taken advantage of three-plus seasons as a Minnesota backup. On Sunday, he showed off his knowledge of the Vikings' offensive system.
As Daunte Culpepper watched from the sideline with a sprained knee, Bouman passed for 348 yards and four touchdowns, leading the Minnesota Vikings to a 42-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
"You never know when it's going to come," Bouman said. "Brad Johnson told me to be patient, and things will work out if you keep working hard."
Wide receiver Cris Carter noted the similarity between Bouman and Johnson, who toiled for four seasons before getting his chance to start for Minnesota in 1996.
"They're at such an advantage," Carter said. "They really understand the system, they know where people are going to be. I knew Todd could do it."
Staying on the fringes of the NFC playoff hunt, the Vikings (5-7) scored four touchdowns in a 12-minute stretch spanning the second and third quarters.
Michael Bennett ran for two touchdowns, finally looking like the back who was supposed to replace the retired Robert Smith. He had 113 yards on 16 carries, the first 100-yard game by a Minnesota back since Smith did it against Detroit on Nov. 30, 2000.
Randy Moss, who reiterated this week he plays only when he wants to play, was booed the first few times his name was announced. But eventually, he was cheered after catching seven passes for 158 yards, including a 73-yard TD catch with 2:35 left.
For the Titans (5-7) the loss all but dashed their playoff chances.
"This is very frustrating," said safety Perry Phenix. "We play well one week, then the next week we're inconsistent. We've got to fix this somehow."
Minnesota coach Dennis Green didn't reveal his starter until Bouman jogged out for the Vikings' first possession midway through the first quarter.
"I made up my mind about Friday and waited until the last minute to announce it," Green said. "I didn't want him under any undue pressure, but we told him Friday and he was ready to go. He was fantastic."
Bouman, asked how he felt when he learned he was the starter, contradicted his coach.
"Friday? I just found out today. I don't know who told you that," Bouman said, later realizing his mistake. "Friday, Saturday, Sunday, one of those days."
It didn't matter to the Titans.
"We prepared our defense to play the Viking offense," said coach Jeff Fisher. "As far as the quarterbacks were concerned, there wasn't a difference."
Getting solid protection, Bouman completed 21 of 31 passes, was intercepted once and became the first Vikings quarterback to throw three or more TDs in his first NFL start.
Bouman, who didn't take a snap in his first four seasons, has six touchdowns and 548 yards in his past two games. He relieved a hobbled Culpepper in the fourth quarter last week against Pittsburgh.
Tennessee's Steve McNair, playing in pain again, completed 25 of 33 passes for 302 yards and two scores.
McNair, whose left elbow was badly bruised last week against Cleveland when his arm was inadvertently stepped on, completed his first nine passes. Eddie George ran for 66 yards before intermission as the Titans jumped to a 10-0 lead.
But Minnesota scored four straight TDs, and Bouman's 38-yard dump-off pass to Doug Chapman made it 28-10 in the third quarter.
After two shaky possessions, Bouman was solid. Late in the first half, he sprinted 16 yards on third-and-12 to the Tennessee 28.
Bouman finished the drive by lofting a pass to Jake Reed in the corner of the end zone. It was tipped by Michael Booker and caught with one hand by Reed to put the Vikings ahead 14-10 with 40 seconds left. Then they scored twice in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the third quarter to take control.
"Given the pressure we've been under and the circumstances, I really haven't had much fun this year," Carter said. "Today, we had fun. That was the important part."
Notes: Moss went over 1,000 yards on the season and became the first receiver in NFL history to reach that mark in each of his first four seasons. ... George is still without a 100-yard rushing game this year. ... The Vikings didn't allow a sack for the second straight game.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.