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MOON, VIKINGS OVERCOME MASTERFUL MARINO RALLY

Enough. Warren Moon had seen enough. Enough Dan Marino. Enough record-setting comebacks against his team. Enough runs off tackle and short passes. Enough protecting the football.

So after watching his Minnesota Vikings blow a 28-0 lead to Marino and the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Moon had a brief chat with offensive coordinator Brian Billick. His message: "Let me do what I do best. Let me throw the ball down the field. If I screw it up, I screw it up."He didn't screw it up. Moon led Minnesota on a 70-yard touchdown drive that was capped by Scottie Graham's 3-yard run with 7:25 to play and the Vikings held on for a 38-35 victory.

Moon, in his first season with the Vikings (3-1), helped the Houston Oilers take a 35-3 lead over the Buffalo Bills in the 1992 postseason. But Moon and the Oilers did nothing the rest of the game and Buffalo rallied for a 41-38 victory.

Sunday, Marino completed 29 of 54 passes for 431 yards - the fourth-best total of his illustrious career - and threatened to put Moon and the Vikings in the regular-season record book alongside the New Orleans Saints, who blew a 28-point lead in losing 38-35 to San Francisco in 1980.

But after the Dolphins (3-1) made it 28-28 on Bernie Parmalee's 10-yard run with 10:34, Moon threw passes of 13 and 22 yards to Jake Reed, and Terry Allen had a 30-yard run before Graham scored the winner.

Asked if he thought about the Buffalo collapse as he watched Miami rally, Moon said: "You're darn tootin'. But I also thought that this where I have to rise and make a play and I went over to Brian and said, `Let's just throw it down the field and let me be the guy to either make or break this thing.'

"I just knew I had to raise my level. I put it more in my hands to throw the ball down the field and get something going. That's what I thought they brought me here for, to make big plays when it's time to make big plays," he said.

"I have a lot of confidence in myself to do what I know I do best. I'm not going to rock the boat completely, but I will make some suggestions from time to time."

Moon had his best game as a Viking - 26-of-37 for 326 yards, including three touchdown passes to Cris Carter. Moon has 201 career touchdown passes, tying him with Roman Gabriel for 15th in league history.

"He's the guy. He's the triggerman. He's just leading us," Carter said. "He's the man. During the week, he doesn't say much. During the game, you can tell he's been successful. He's done so many things, it would be nice for him to win the Super Bowl as much as he's put into the game. He really deserves it."

Marino is another quarterback who has put up big numbers but has no championships to show for it. He threw three touchdown passes Sunday, giving him 310 in his career.

"You try to make things happen," said Marino, who was intercepted twice by Jack Del Rio and once by Lamar McGriggs. "When you're down, sometimes you have to take chances. I tried to force it.

"But we still almost won. I really felt like we weren't going to lose."

After watching the teams combine for 931 yards, including 473 by his team, Dolphins coach Don Shula said: "It could have been one of the greatest comebacks, and we would have loved to be associated with that. This has got to be one of our most disappointing losses."

Doubly disappointing, actually.

Miami's top back, Terry Kirby, suffered ligament damage on his right knee during an unsuccessful, 2-point conversion run at the end of the first half and "it looks like he's going to be out for the year," Shula said.

The Dolphins still had a chance to win after Graham scored, but Parmalee failed to handle the ensuing kickoff and Fuad Reveiz kicked a 38-yard field goal to make it 38-28. That drive was helped by a personal foul penalty against Miami's volatile Bryan Cox.

"Do you think I'm happy about getting 15-yard penalty?" Cox shouted at reporters in an expletive-laced diatribe. "You gotta be out of your mind!"

Marino led the Dolphins right back to Minnesota's 2, but Parmalee was stuffed on first down and Marino threw three straight incompletions, the last with 2:24 left.

Miami got the ball back once again and Keith Byars scored on a 1-yard run with 1:04 remaining, but Chris Walsh recovered the Dolphins' onside kick to wrap up the Vikings' third consecutive victory.

"It was ugly," Del Rio said. "A lot of teams might have packed it up and said, `Oh, Dan's hot. We can't ever stop him.' But we were able to come up with just enough plays."

In addition to Moon's TD passes of 2, 44 and 8 yards to Carter and Graham's run, Allen had an 8-yard touchdown run for Minnesota.

Allen finished with 113 yards on 15 carries. Reed caught nine passes for 129 yards and Carter seven for 81.

Marino's touchdown passes were 26 yards to O.J. McDuffie, 3 yards to Greg Baty and 25 yards to Keith Jackson.

Irving Fryar caught six passes for 160 yards for Miami.