Johnson a Super Substitute, but Moon Still the Vikings’ Man
Brad Johnson led the Minnesota Vikings to their first 2-0 start in nine years. Now, it’s back to the bench.
Johnson, making the first start of his five-year NFL career because of an injury to Warren Moon, threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns Sunday as the Vikings handed the Atlanta Falcons a rare home loss, 23-17.
Moon suffered ankle and foot injuries in the opener last week, when Johnson came off the bench to throw a 31-yard touchdown pass with about a minute remaining to defeat Detroit, 17-13.
Moon took part in the warmup Sunday and was designated the primary backup to Johnson, but he wanted to give his 39-year-old body an extra week to recover. Johnson did just fine filling in, but Moon should return to the lineup next week at Chicago.
“I’m the backup here,” Johnson said. “It’s Warren’s job. It’s Warren’s team. There’s no doubt I would love to get another chance to start and play. But everybody is ready to get Warren back out there.”
Johnson wasn’t the only Minnesota player who emerged from obscurity to play a starring role. Third-string tight end David Frisch scored the first touchdown of his four-year pro career--and the game-winner--on a three-yard pass with 10:27 remaining.
Johnson didn’t complete that many passes, 15 for 26, but he averaged 18.3 yards for each one that was caught. Jake Reed was the receiver on two of the Vikings’ biggest plays of the day: a 42-yard reception in the first quarter and a 71-yarder in the third, both of which set up field goals by Scott Sisson.
But it was a couple of short tosses that gave the Vikings their two touchdowns. Johnson threw a seven-yard pass to Cris Carter for the only touchdown of the first half, then a three-yarder to Frisch that put the Vikings ahead for good in the second half.
Frisch, who spent the last three years with Cincinnati and New England, scored his touchdown after Harlon Barnett recovered a fumble by Jamal Anderson at the Atlanta 34-yard line.
On second and 17, Johnson threw a 40-yard pass to Carter, who got behind Darnell Walker and Devin Bush along the left sideline and was tackled just short of the end zone.
Two play later, Johnson found Frisch sliding free along the goal line for the touchdown that gave the Vikings a 20-17 lead.
The Falcons, an NFC wild-card team last season, are off to their worst start since losing the first five games of 1993. The run-and-shoot offense had not scored a touchdown until Jeff George connected with Terance Mathis on a three-yard pass in the third quarter.