MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Vikings endured a miserable start to their season, making mistake after mistake. Now they’re winning by taking advantage of everyone else’s.

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.

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 came back in for Cleveland’s next possession, and Sharper picked him off in the end zone, sealing it for Minnesota (6-5).

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. Ruben Droughns ran 19 times for a tough 73 yards and had five receptions for 46 yards, but the passing game just wasn’t working.

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.

Johnson, who is 4-0 since taking over as the Vikings’ starter after Daunte Culpepper suffered a season-ending 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.

Minnesota wasn’t dominant by any means, and punter Chris Kluwe got a good workout. Rookie Marcus Johnson, who replaced Mike Rosenthal as the starting right tackle, was pulled after his third false-start penalty on the opening drive. Johnson came back in later and negated a touchdown run by Mewelde Moore with a holding penalty – the fourth of his five infractions.

But with a defense that had five sacks and forced five turnovers, the Vikings did just enough with the ball to ease their way to another win.

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 went 23-for-35 for 214 yards.

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.

AP-ES-11-27-05 1621EST


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.