The one thing that is expected in preseason games, especially preseason openers, is sloppy play. Turnovers are part of that equation and two critical turnovers in the first half resulted in a 14-0 halftime deficit to the Tennessee Titans and the turning point of the game.
The Vikings were fortunate to be tied in a scoreless game midway through the second quarter, because the Titans had made their own miscues to take points off the board that they could have and should have had. Tennessee had driven to the red zone twice on a pair of long, effective drives, but a 30-yard loss on a botched handoff and resulting bumbling by large men trying to cover the ball killed the Titans' first long drive. On Tennessee's next drive, a missed 38-yard field goal attempt by Rob Bironas kept the game scoreless. But it would Vikings' miscues that turned the game in the Titans' favor.
With the ball at midfield, running back Lorenzo Booker got a handoff up the middle. As he was going down, rookie defensive tackle Jurrell Casey stripped the ball loose as Booker was going down and Tennessee recovered on the Minnesota 45. On the next play, rookie QB Jake Locker dropped a shotgun snap, but scooped up the ball and found wide receiver Yamon Figurs wide open behind Chris Cook, who took a step toward the loose ball and, just eight seconds after getting the ball from the Tennessee defense, the Titans offense cashed in and scored a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead with 4:55 to play in the first half.
On the ensuing drive, the Vikings got to their own 44-yard line, but Joe Webb threw a floating pass over the middle that was intercepted by Jordan Babineaux, who returned the interception to the Vikings 22-yard line. It looked as though the defense would hold the Titans to a field goal, but on a third-and-8 play from the 20-yard line, Locker floated a pass that landed three yards out of bounds, but cornerback Marcus Sherels was called for pass interference that put the ball on the 2-yard line. The Titans scored on the next play for a 14-0 lead.
In a first half in which both teams put players on the field that are expected to be major contributors when the regular season gets underway – both with starters and key reserves – it was two critical turnovers by the Vikings and the Titans ability to cash them in for two touchdowns that turned momentum into Tennessee's favor and, as the front-line players were concerned, resulted in an emphatic and opportunistic turning point of the game.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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.
Titans turn turnovers into a win
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