NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints needed to control Daunte Culpepper in the closing seconds to clinch a playoff spot.
But Culpepper was unstoppable, throwing a 13-yard touchdown pass, then scrambling after a botched snap to run in for a 2-point conversion that gave the Minnesota Vikings a 32-31 victory Sunday.
"I was thinking, 'Just grab it,' " said Culpepper, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more. "We've been practicing that play for the same situation for a 2-point play to win the game. I knew the offensive line was going to execute it, so I knew the hole was going to be big."
Culpepper's run, with 5 seconds left, allowed the Vikings (4-10) to rally for their first regular-season road win in 16 games.
"It was like a horror show," Saints cornerback Dale Carter said.
The Saints (9-5) could have secured a playoff spot, but fell two games behind Tampa Bay in the NFC South.
Minnesota, which had lost six of 10 when leading or tied in the fourth quarter, was trailing 31-24 with 5:21 left.
Culpepper drove the Vikings 73 yards before hitting a double-teamed Randy Moss for a 13-yard touchdown to pull the Vikings to 31-30. Instead of kicking an extra point to force overtime, Minnesota went for 2. The conversion gave Minnesota its first road win since Thanksgiving Day 2000, when it beat Dallas.
"It was not a question," Vikings coach Mike Tice said. "In the middle of the drive, I told the coaches to have your 2-point play ready."
Culpepper completed 26 of 36 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns. Culpepper also was the game's leading rusher with 73 yards and two touchdowns.
Moss caught 11 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
"Moss is the money man," Culpepper said. "In the clutch you've got to go to him."
Deuce McAllister, playing with a sprained ankle, rushed for 69 yards on 18 carries for the Saints. He had a 78-yard touchdown run nullified by a holding call.
"We needed to put another touchdown on the board," McAllister said. "We should have in the first half."
The Saints opened the game with a 40-yard field goal by John Carney.
The Vikings came back with two touchdowns rushing by Culpepper, a 4-yarder and a 6-yarder to take a 14-3 lead.
Michael Lewis returned the kickoff for a touchdown for the second time this season. His 97-yarder late in the first quarter pulled New Orleans to 14-10.
After an exchange of field goals, Minnesota led 17-13.
Aaron Brooks hit Jake Reed for a 35-yard touchdown with 53 seconds left in the half, putting the Saints up 20-17. But Culpepper and Moss weren't through, and the Vikings took back the lead 24-20 after a one-handed grab by Moss of a 33-yard pass with 12 seconds remaining in the second period.
After scoring 44 points in the first 30 minutes, both offenses struggled in the second half.
The Saints staged an eight-minute drive in the third quarter that ended in Carney's 27-yard field goal.
That was the only score until New Orleans went up 32-24 with 5:21 left. A scrambling Brooks found McAllister, who dived into the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown. Brooks hit Joe Horn in the end zone for the 2-point conversion.
Notes: Moss has played four games against New Orleans under coach Jim Haslett, two regular-season, a preseason, and a playoff game. In those games Moss has caught 18 passes for 342 yards and six touchdowns. ... The Saints wore special gold jerseys that they were selling for $399 and up. That allowed the Vikings to wear their purple jerseys.
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