American Football: King guides Tampa to top

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS held on to a share of first place in the NFC Central division with a 24-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Florida, their fifth win in a row.

Tampa, boasting one of the most parsimonious defences in the league and fresh from their unexpected defeat of Seattle, took advantage of four Minnesota turnovers in Monday night's match.

They put the Vikings on the back foot when Donnie Abraham intercepted quarterback Jeff George on the third play of the game and returned it for a touchdown for a 7-0 lead. Minnesota slipped further behind after a Martin Gramatica field goal but fought back with a pair of touchdowns to lead 14-10.

Tampa Bay regained control in the third quarter, however, when their rookie quarterback, Shaun King, whose fumble led to Minnesota's first touchdown, led the offence on a six-play 57-yard scoring drive. His 29- yard scoring toss to Jacquez Green provided a 17-14 advantage and the Buccaneers were never bettered.

King, pressed into action last week when the starting quarterback, Trent Dilfer, broke his collarbone, stretched the lead to 24-14 when he hit Dave Moore with a one-yard scoring strike in the fourth quarter.

Minnesota added a Gary Anderson 34-yard field goal, but could not close the gap. "In a game like this, you can't make mistakes and win," said the Vikings coach, Dennis Green. Minnesota are now in second place, a game behind Detroit and Tampa Bay in the division.

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