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Vikings win fourth consecutive game

MINNEAPOLIS (Nov. 27, 2005) -- These Minnesota Vikings are proud to be boring. Most of their flashy teams in the past wound up failing anyway.

After enduring a miserable, mistake-filled start to their season, the Vikings are winning with a grind-it-out-style -- and by taking advantage of everyone else's errors.

Brad Johnson threw three touchdown passes to Marcus Robinson, each of them set up by Cleveland turnovers, and the Vikings beat the Browns 24-12 for their fourth straight victory.

"That's the only way we can win," coach Mike Tice said. "It's the type of talent we have. It's the type of quarterback we have. We're going to be have to be that style."

Rookie C.J. Mosley and Keith Newman both forced fumbles by Trent Dilfer with sacks, leading to Robinson's first two scores.

Dilfer, who hurt his right knee in the third quarter, was replaced early in the fourth by rookie Charlie Frye -- who was intercepted by Darren Sharper on the first play. Dilfer was the best option for Cleveland's next possession, coach Romeo Crennel said, but Sharper picked him off in the end zone to seal it for Minnesota (6-5).

Johnson, 4-0 since taking over as the starter after Daunte Culpepper's season ended because of a knee injury, was his usual efficient self. He went 19 for 28 for 207 yards, with one interception, spreading the ball between Robinson, Travis Taylor and scrappy tight end Jermaine Wiggins.

"That's just kind of the way it is," Johnson said. "It's been so explosive for so long for a lot of different reasons. Early in the year, we got behind the 8-ball. But now, playing with the lead changes the way you play the game and the way you attack."

After defeating the Miami Dolphins 22-0 last week, the Browns (4-7) continued to play pretty well on defense -- holding the Vikings to 38 yards rushing through the first three quarters.

Reuben Droughns ran 19 times for a tough 73 yards and had five receptions for 46 yards, but he had only five carries after halftime.

"I'd rather compete and be close than worry about how many times I get the ball," said Droughns, who moved within 59 yards of becoming Cleveland's first 1,000-yard rusher since 1985.

"Not my call," he added, smiling.

A first-quarter pass nicked off the hands of first-round draft pick Braylon Edwards and into the arms of Antoine Winfield for Dilfer's first interception. Leading receiver Antonio Bryant dropped a second-down pass in the second quarter, with Cleveland trying to move into field goal range.

And then there were the fumbles, and Frye's interception, that preceded touchdown drives by Minnesota of 35, 17 and 32 yards.

"It's very frustrating," Droughns said. "You always want to take a step forward, not two steps back."

Dilfer threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Northcutt with 1:06 left, cutting the deficit to 12, but Droughns was stuffed in the backfield on the 2-point conversion. Dilfer finished 23 for 35 for 214 yards.

The Browns fell to 1-5 on the road.

"If you have to go back and re-teach and make up ground that you thought you covered," Crennel said, "you're not making progress."

Mosley had two of Minnesota's sacks after replacing Kevin Williams at tackle. Williams, an All-Pro last year who has just one sack this season, sprained his right knee in the first quarter and didn't return.

The success by Mosley, a sixth-round draft pick who hasn't played much, was more evidence of a defense that is getting better and gaining confidence. Besides the five turnovers, Minnesota had a season-high five sacks.

Though they will still have a difficult time making the playoffs, the Vikings have come a long way since losing four of their first five and embarrassing themselves with a bye-week boat party that produced allegations of sexual misconduct by several players.

"I don't know if we'll ever put it all together. We're pretty dysfunctional," Tice said. "It's a maturity. I don't know where that came from. It probably came from some of the adversity we've faced."

Notes:Vikings rookie Marcus Johnson, who started for Mike Rosenthal at right tackle, was pulled after his third false-start penalty on the opening drive. Later, Johnson negated a touchdown run by Mewelde Moore with a holding penalty -- the fourth of his five infractions. ... Cleveland tight end Steve Heiden had five catches for 55 yards. He played at Rushford-Peterson High School, in southeast Minnesota. ... Sharper now has seven INTs and 265 return yards, which established a Vikings season record. Jimmy Hitchcock held the old mark, with 242 in 1998. ... One highlight for the Browns was Joshua Cribbs, who returned five kickoffs for 155 yards and a long of 48. ... Minnesota went 4-0 in November for the first time since 1999. ... Cleveland starting left guard Joe Andruzzi (knee, calf) missed his second straight game.

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