The first time Randy Moss burned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they were covering him with a backup. The next time they were using their best cover man.
All that's left to try to stop the rookie is double coverage. Cris Carter, Jake Reed, Robert Smith and the rest of the Minnesota Vikings' offense can't wait for that.Moss wasted no time proving how he can make one of the NFL's most potent offenses even more dangerous, catching touchdown passes of 48 and 31 yards Sunday as the Vikings dominated the Buccaneers 31-7 in their highly anticipated NFC Central matchup.
Carter also caught two TDs and Brad Johnson matched a career high with four scoring passes as the Vikings took advantage of their myriad offensive options to dissect a defense considered to be among the league's best.
"Adding Randy just added another weapon to our team," said Reed, who had only one catch. "Now other teams can't just sit back and just double team one guy. They've got to really get out and play some honest football. Randy Moss really let everyone now he's not a fluke."
Most people picked the Buccaneers to be the most serious threat to Green Bay in the Central. Coming off its first playoff season in 15 years, Tampa hoped to make good on its Super Bowl aspirations by beating the Vikings and doing the same in Green Bay next week.
Instead, they head to Lambeau Field with a humiliating defeat that left quarterback Trent Dilfer on the sidelines with a thigh bruise and receiver Bert Emanuel out two weeks with an ankle sprain.
"I thought we were as prepared as we have ever been offensively," said Dilfer, who hit his first 11 passes and finished 17-for-24 for 207 yards and a touchdown before leaving late in the third quarter.
The Bucs managed only 62 yards rushing and self-destructed on nearly every drive in the first half, resurrecting images of the hapless era that ended last season.
Mike Alstott fumbled on the second drive, leading to Moss' first TD and a 14-0 lead. Michael Husted missed badly on a 41-yard field goal on Tampa Bay's next drive, and Minnesota responded with Moss' second TD.
Tampa then drove to a third-and-1 at the Minnesota 12. Tony Williams and Dixon Edwards stopped Alstott for a 2-yard loss and Dilfer's fourth-down pass went through Emanuel's hands.
The Bucs had 12 penalties for 124 penalties, compared to four for 30 for the Vikings. Tampa Bay's penalties included a roughing-the-punter penalty that allowed the Vikings to drive to a field goal that made it 24-7 early in the fourth quarter.
JAGUARS 24, BEARS 23: Mark Brunell went 8-for-9 in an 87-yard game-winning drive Sunday as Jacksonville rallied at Chicago. Brunell threw for 73 yards on the drive, hitting Jimmy Smith with a 4-yard TD pass with 29 seconds left.
Smith finished with nine catches for 90 yards.
CHARGERS 16, BILLS 14: John Carney's 54-yard field goal bounced off the left upright and went through with 4:30 to play. Then Christie was wide left on a 39-yard field-goal attempt with three seconds left. Christie also shanked a 21-yard attempt early in the fourth quarter at San Diego.
Doug Flutie, in relief of Rob Johnson, was superb, with touchdown passes of 43 and 5 yards to Andre Reed. The 35-year-old quarterback spent the last eight years in the CFL.
Ryan Leaf, the second overall pick in the draft, had a mediocre debut for the Chargers.
SAINTS 24, RAMS 17: New Orleans turned two first-half turnovers into touchdowns and had only one turnover, contrasting with a mistake-filled performance from St. Louis. Lamar Smith caught one touchdown pass and threw for another on an option play.
But the Saints lost Hobert when he ruptured his right Achilles' tendon dropping back to pass on the artificial turf.
CHIEFS 28, RAIDERS 8: Derrick Thomas nearly matched his NFL record of seven sacks, getting to Jeff George six times as the hosts dumped George 10 times. Kansas City ran up a 17-0 lead before Oakland ran a successful play, making for a painful debut for 35-year-old Raiders coach Jon Gruden.
Donnell Bennett rushed 23 times for 115 yards for Kansas City, which supposedly doesn't have a running threat.
OILERS 23, BENGALS 14: Al Del Greco made his first three field-goal attempts, while Dave Krieg took over for McNair and played well. But Tennessee lost five players to injury: McNair, DT Henry Ford, safety Blaine Bishop, cornerback Steve Jackson and center Erik Norgard.
Cincinnati running back Ki-Jana Carter broke his left wrist and will be out eight to 12 weeks.
STEELERS 20, RAVENS 13: Kordell Stewart scored Pittsburgh's first touchdown after Baltimore botched a punt, and threw for another. The Steelers took advantage of the Ravens' shoddy kicking game in the opener at Baltimore's new stadium.
Matt Stover missed three field goals, two of them because of poor snaps. Backup long snapper Harper Le Bel lowlighted a miserable day by sending a one-hopper to punter Kyle Richardson in the third quarter, and Richardson was tackled for a 31-yard loss.
GIANTS 31, REDSKINS 24: All-Pro defensive end Michael Strahan scored on a 24-yard interception return as New York's opportunistic defense scored or set up three third-quarter touchdowns over the error-prone visitors.
The Giants defense had eight sacks and intercepted consecutive passes by Frerotte. One of the sacks forced Frerotte out, but third-string quarterback Trent Green twice got Washington within seven points.
FALCONS 19, PANTHERS 14: Kevin Green managed three sacks, but it did not deter the Falcons, who converted one interception and two Carolina punting miscues into 12 points, dooming the Panthers to their fourth consecutive home loss.
Chris Chandler threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Falcons win their road opener for the first time since 1986.
SEAHAWKS 38, EAGLES 0: Joey Galloway had a career-high 142 yards receiving and scored two touchdowns as Seattle handed Philadelphia its first shutout in a home opener since 1941. It was the worst opening loss in Eagles history.
Rookie Ahman Green rushed for 100 yards on six carries, all in the second half.
COWBOYS 38, CARDINALS 10: Troy Aikman ran for two touchdowns - more than he's had in any season - and passed for two more to snap host Dallas' 10-game losing streak that included five 1998 exhibition games and the last five games of 1997.
DOLPHINS 24, COLTS 15: Top overall draft pick Peyton Manning had an inauspicious debut, throwing three interceptions, with Terrell Buckley returning one 21 yards for a score. He also was sacked four times. Dan Marino had a 44-yard TD pass at Indianapolis.
New England (0-0) at Denver (0-0), (6 p.m. MDT, Ch. 4): The Broncos are coming off their first NFL championship with most key elements intact, including Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Terrell Davis at running back.
The Patriots, who lost star runner Curtis Martin in free agency, are 0-9 against Elway-led Broncos in regular season.