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Jackson, booed by the fans here in a preseason game in August as well as a few times during his struggles as a starter in 2007 and 2008, drew cheers when he jogged out for the next possession.
He sent a pass to Greg Camarillo on a simple out pattern that Florence read perfectly and jumped for a 40-yard touchdown, but with hardly any time to think about the mistake Jackson came right back and went 4 for 4 for 76 yards and the tying score on the next drive.
Rice’s nine-game absence following hip surgery was one of a constant stream of setbacks, dropoffs and letdowns the Vikings faced between their loss in the NFC championship game last January and the firing of Childress two weeks ago.
Looking like the Pro Bowl player from last year, Rice jumped over Leodis McKelvin to catch a 31-pass up the sideline from Jackson and wrestled the ball away as he landed his torso in the end zone before rolling out. The initial call was incomplete, but Frazier challenged the play and the ruling was reversed.
McKelvin fumbled the ensuing kickoff, when Tyrell Johnson punched the ball out at the 19. The Vikings scored in four plays, on a 2-yard push by Peterson set up by a pass interference penalty on McKelvin.
Antoine Winfield, who began his 12-year career with the Bills, intercepted an under-pressure pass by Ryan Fitzpatrick on third-and-11 midway through the second quarter and returned it to the 5 to set up another highlight-reel catch by Rice for Minnesota’s fourth straight touchdown. He ran a crossing pattern and pulled in the ball with both hands near the side edge as he hit the ground, putting the Vikings up 28-7.
Fitzpatrick has injected some much-needed life into a Bills offense that hasn’t had any for years, with a couple of 300-yard, four-touchdown games since replacing Trent Edwards as the starter in September.
This was one of his worst performances of the season, with just 9 yards passing in the first half. Fitzpatrick faced a relentless pass rush led by Jared Allen, who slapped the ball out of Fitzpatrick’s arm on the first play of the fourth quarter for Buffalo’s fourth turnover.
The fifth was a fumbled snap by Fitzpatrick on third-and-goal from the 1.
By Bob Dole
The industrious island has proved itself worthy of U.S. inclusion
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