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Moss shows up Packers

There are a number of tasks for which Randy Moss likely is not the ideal choice.

Guest speaker for a third-grade class. Lifeboat captain. Scooping ice cream at a church social. But when it comes to catching touchdowns in the playoffs? Against the Packers?

Well, Moss is the man.

Moss caught two of Daunte Culpepper's four touchdowns, including the clincher, in Minnesota's 31-17 victory against Green Bay in an NFC wild-card game Sunday.

Moss' big-play performance on a badly sprained ankle atoned for a week of self-inflicted controversy, but the lightning rod receiver likely sparked another with a mooning gesture in the end zone at Lambeau Field after his second score.

"That's Randy," Vikings center Matt Birk said. "You take the good with the bad. He'll probably never be a model citizen."

Attempting to rally from an early 17-0 deficit, quarterback Brett Favre threw four interceptions as Green Bay lost for only the second time in 16 home playoff games.

"I was as disappointed as I've ever been after a loss," Packers coach Mike Sherman said. "I can handle losing, but losing the way we did, not playing smart, was disappointing."

Minnesota, which eked into the playoffs despite losing seven of its final 10, spent the week dodging distractions: the swoon, a disappointing loss to the Redskins in the finale and the fact that Moss, whose career has been plagued by questionable actions, angrily left the field in that game with two seconds left.

During television interviews in which Moss tried to explain his actions, he made things worse with a less-than-ringing endorsement of embattled Vikings coach Mike Tice.

"Randy felt real bad about what he did last week," Culpepper said. "But he's a good friend of mine and I know he has it inside of him to be a winner."

Culpepper, whose stellar season was overshadowed by the record performance Sunday of the Colts' Peyton Manning, was flawless in his biggest game. The sturdy quarterback completed 19 of 29 passes for 284 yards and also led the Vikings in rushing with 54 yards on six carries. He threw touchdowns of 20 and 34 yards to Moss, 68 to Moe Williams and 19 to Nate Burleson.

Three of the TDs came on audibles.

After Green Bay cut the margin to 24-17 early in the fourth, Culpepper calmly drove the Vikings. On first down at the Packers 34, he read Green Bay's blitz formation and signaled to Moss to fake a slant and cut upfield. Cornerback Al Harris jumped the inside route and Moss ran under the lofted pass in the end zone.

"We called an all-out blitz," said Harris, who also was beaten on Moss' first touchdown. "There is no way possible that you should have time to run a double move."

After the catch, Moss ran to the goal post, turned his back to the fans and motioned as if he were pulling down his pants. Fox television aired it live, but refused to show a replay.

"I don't give a ---- what they talk about," Moss said of his celebration, which he added was not meant to be disrespectful. "They better talk about this W that we put on Lambeau Field."

After restoring the Vikings' two-touchdown lead midway through the fourth, Moss spent most of the remaining minutes on the sideline. He stuck around to watch the final seconds tick off Minnesota's first road playoff victory since 1997.

Moss has nine touchdowns in seven career playoff games. He also has 70 catches for 1,313 yards and 14 touchdowns in 14 career games against the Packers, the Vikings' fellow NFC North team and biggest rival. It's the most TDs Moss has against any team.

"I had no doubt in my mind he was going to play well," said Tice, who claimed he was unaware of Moss' gesture. "I think the young man tried to do the right thing with some interviews last week and it didn't turn out the way he wanted it to."

Moving on in the wide-open NFC, Minnesota will go to Philadelphia again hoping to silence its many critics. A challenging season goes on for what likely will be another challenging week.

"We're used to a certain level of drama," Birk said. "It seems like there's always something going on. After all the bad things that were said, there was no pressure, no reason for us to be uptight."

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