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Kicker not shocked by winning boot

MINNEAPOLIS -- Forty-three years and more than a half of the Metrodome football field to go. Those were two factors the Minnesota Vikings had to overcome with 22 seconds remaining Saturday.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Forty-three years and more than a half of the Metrodome football field to go. Those were two factors the Minnesota Vikings had to overcome with 22 seconds remaining Saturday.

Gary Anderson wondered outloud after the game what the big fuss was all about. The NFL's all-time leading scorer connected on a 53-yard field goal to give the Vikings a 20-17 win over Miami, proving his kicking leg still has life in it over 50.

"Everybody is thrilled for him," said Vikings coach Mike Tice. "That's about as far as he could kick it. I think he dropped a kidney out there after he kicked that thing, but we'll get that cleaned up and he'll be good to go tomorrow."

Anderson's teammates and fans went wild.

"You saw it out there on the field, the excitement and just the accumulation for the opposite of the frustration we've had this year," Anderson said.

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At least one Miami player -- a former Vikings teammate -- had big doubts about the kick.

"I knew it was going to come out low," Cris Carter said. "I didn't think he could make it. They made the kick."

The field goal jubilation for the Vikings helped clear -- at least for the moment -- the ugliness of quarterback Daunte Culpepper's play in the first half. Two interceptions in the end zone and three fumbles amounted to no more than a 7-3 halftime lead for the Dolphins.

"You might look at it as a rough first half, but to me I wasn't thinking that," Culpepper said. "I was thinking we could move the ball on these guys. We just needed another opportunity to get out there and do it."

Anderson's longest career boot prior to the game was also from 53 yards against Jacksonville during his perfect regular season of 1998. While Saturday's kick resembled something like a bladed golf shot, Anderson gave the ball just enough juice before it brushed the upright and went through.

"When I hit my hardest shot, it will actually fade a little bit, and for a while I was getting concerned about it," Anderson said. "It was about online with the right goalpost and then it came back a little bit. I used my radar on that a little bit."

Culpepper said he held hands with receiver Randy Moss as they watched the kick. Running back Michael Bennett couldn't even watch.

"It was breathtaking," Bennett said. "I put my head down and when I heard the fans go crazy I knew we had made the field goal."

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The Vikings were left with few options after they methodically moved the ball down to the Miami 35. The Vikings gained just two yards on consecutive runs on second and third down before Anderson came on the field. The team's other option was to use kickoff specialist Hayden Epstein, who had just banged up his left knee making a saving tackle on Miami returner Travis Milnor in the same quarter.

"I'm realistic about that," Anderson said. "If it had been 56, 57 yards, I'd tell Mike that Hayden would have a better chance of getting that there than I would."

Anderson made a point that while he doesn't get the opportunity to kick many long field goals during a game, he still lets them rip during pregame warm-ups.

"Maybe I surprised a few people out there, but I didn't surprise myself," Anderson said. "Somebody at the big press conference out there asked me, 'When's the last time you kicked a kick that long?' and they expected me to say 'five years ago.' I think I said '10 minutes before the game started.'"

Anderson's longest kick this season had been 44 yards. He's also had attempts of 43 and 46 yards blocked.

"It's not something that I worry about," he said. "Obviously, you're in the situation for the last kick of regulation time and anyone kicking that kick, you have to kick it a little lower than normal."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Rob Beer at (701) 241-5590

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