Monday night was supposed to be Tarvaris Jackson's coming-out party. Facing an elite defense in the New York Giants, Jackson had a chance to make a case for the Vikings to look ahead with him as the replacement for Brett Favre, who could be done for the season and may get placed on injured reserve this week. With Favre's 297-game streak of regular-season starts done, Jackson had his chance to start his own consecutive-games streak, but, unfortunately, his inability to produce not only put his long-term future as a starting QB in question, but put his stamp on the turning point of the game.
With 8:11 to play in the second quarter, the Giants had just scored their first points of the game, set up by a 73-yard run from Brandon Jacobs, who capped the drive three plays later with a 1-yard touchdown run to give New York a 7-3 lead. It was Jackson's chance to bring the Vikings back and make a game of it. The results? Vintage T-Jack.
Drive No. 1—Faced with a third-and-2, Bryant McKinnie started early to back the Vikings up 5 yards and, on the next play, Jackson was sacked for a 10-yard loss. Result—Three plays, minus-2 yards.
Drive No. 2—Still trailing 7-3 with 3:32 to play in the first half, the Vikings started at their own 45-yard with a short field to get into field goal range. At midfield, a holding call pushed the Vikings back 10 yards and a botched exchange in the shotgun on third down resulted in a 16-yard loss. Result—Three plays, minus-15 yards.
Drive No. 3—Trailing 14-3 with 11:35 to play in the third quarter, the Vikings opened on their own 36-yard line. After throwing a first-down incompletion, Jackson threw a pass almost directly into the chest of linebacker Keith Bullock, giving the ball over to the Giants. Result—Two plays, 0 yards.
Drive No. 4—Starting on their own 10-yard line, Jackson's only completion was to Bernard Berrian, which lost 2 yards. Result— Three plays, minus-1 yards.
Drive No. 5—Still trailing 14-3 with 5:18 to play in the third quarter, the Vikings were pinned on their own 8-yard line. A pair of Peterson runs and a Jackson incompletion forced the Vikings to punt again. A false start on the punt sent them back another 5 yards. The Giants gashed the Vikings with a 48-yard touchdown run by Ahmad Bradshaw on the next drive to give the Giants a 21-3 lead with 2:46 to play in the third quarter. Result—Three plays, 3 yards.
From the moment the Vikings first fell behind with 8:11 to play in the second quarter, the offense had the ball six times before it earned its next first down – which came on a third-and-15 conversion with 1:11 to play in the third quarter. In a game that lasts just 60 minutes, the Vikings had five possessions in which fourteen offensive plays netted minus-15 yards. It was the chance for Jackson to assert himself as a viable candidate as a replacement for Favre – both in the short-term and the long-term. Instead, his ineptitude for a 22-minute span between first downs set back that process significantly and turned into a devastating turning point.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Turning point: Jackson's defining drives fail
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