Moon Gets His First Victory in Buffalo : Interconference: With help from Carter and Del Rio, Viking quarterback ends hex against Bills; Kelly sprains knee.

From Associated Press

Warren Moon never won in Buffalo in 10 years with the Houston Oilers. Maybe he should have had Cris Carter and Jack Del Rio on his team then.

Carter caught nine passes for 111 yards on Sunday to lead Minnesota to a 21-17 victory over Buffalo and give the Vikings’ new quarterback his first victory at Rich Stadium in six tries.

Carter needs one more catch to tie Sterling Sharpe’s record of 112.

Del Rio had an interception to kill one Buffalo drive and sacked Jim Kelly to stop another.


“I knew exactly what’s happened here in the past,” Moon said. “But I also knew that if I play my type of game and if I don’t make any major mistakes, we can win up here. . . . At some point, the law of averages had to kick in.”

The Vikings (9-5), who scored the last 12 points, lost three in a row in November, but they have now won two in a row to solidify their hold on first place in the NFC Central.

“This keeps us in the playoff hunt. And also the monkey’s off my back as far as me never having won up here,” said Moon, who was 21 of 34 for 261 yards to top the 4,000-yard milestone for the fourth time.

“I think I accomplished two different things up here.”

With 1:29 left and Minnesota needing only a first down to run out the clock, Phil Hansen stripped the ball from Terry Allen to give the Bills another chance.

But Kelly was injured and carted off after the second play and Thurman Thomas was hurt on the fourth play.

Kelly suffered sprained ligaments in his left knee and will have further tests today. Thomas hyperextended his knee, but was said to be OK.


Backup quarterback Frank Reich, who led the Bills’ back from a 32-point deficit to knock Moon and the Oilers out of the playoffs in 1992, couldn’t pull it out this time.

“It would have been another storybook ending, wouldn’t it?” Buffalo center Kent Hull said.

Buffalo (7-7), which has not won consecutive games since September, again lost after an emotional victory. One week after defeating the AFC East-leading Dolphins to stay in the division race, the Bills dropped to third place.

Although still in the wild-card race, a Miami victory over Kansas City on Monday night would destroy Buffalo’s chances of a sixth AFC East title in seven years.

“I am sure we can recover. You all know we can recover,” cornerback Thomas Smith told reporters. “I guess nobody’s seen the Bills’ backs against the wall this far, but we still have a chance.”

In his first year with the Vikings, Moon already has begun to rewrite their record books.

He now has 4,078 yards for the year to top Tommy Kramer’s team record of 3,912. He also has 356 completions, surpassing Fran Tarkenton’s team record of 345.

The Bills took advantage of seven Minnesota penalties in the first half--including one that negated an interception and three that saved Buffalo from punting--to open a 10-9 lead.


They made it 17-9 on the opening drive of the third quarter, but a short kickoff led to one of Fuad Reveiz’s five field goals, this one from 25 yards.

The Bills drove to the Viking 26 on their next possession, but Del Rio, a 10-year pro from USC, made a one-handed interception that led to the Vikings’ only touchdown.

“It’s a big play,” Buffalo Coach Marv Levy said. “But they still had 75 yards to go to score after the interception, and they did.”

Moon was five of six on the drive, including a 22-yard pass to Qadry Ismail on third and seven to give Minnesota a first down at the two.

Allen, who had 90 yards rushing, ran it in two plays later. After a missed two-point conversion, Minnesota led, 18-17, with 9:44 left.

Del Rio sacked Kelly for a loss of seven on Buffalo’s next possession, when the Bills went three and out, holding the ball for 43 seconds.


The Vikings added a 22-yard field goal with 2:38 left.