When NFL teams are playing the fourth preseason game, it doesn't look much like the standard NFL game. The star players didn't even put on pads and the second half was dominated by and large by players who won't be on the final roster when the regular season starts Sept. 11. But it was the Vikings' ability on defense to cause turnovers that created the turning point of the game in their 28-0 win over Houston.
The game went to halftime with the Vikings leading 7-0 in a turnover-free first half. That would change in the third quarter, as the third-stringers took the field.
The Texans got the kickoff to open the second half and moved the ball near midfield, looking to put up their first points of the game. Instead, defensive end Adrian Awasom came almost unblocked and drilled T.J. Yates, forcing a fumble that was recovered by DE David Akinniyi at the Houston 42, putting the Vikings offense in excellent scoring position.
It took advantage of the opportunity. The team got into the red zone quickly, as Christian Ponder scrambled for five yards after being face-masked to put the ball on the 22-yard line. Five plays later, running back Alexander Robinson capped off the drive with a 4-yard run for a score to give the Vikings a 14-0 lead with 10:19 to play in the third quarter.
After an exchange of punts, Yates was looking to make an impact. He did, but it wasn't the kind of impact the Texans were looking for. On the second play of the drive from his own 25, Yates tried to throw a long pass that was intercepted by rookie Brandon Burton at the Vikings 41-yard line. As they did with their first defensive turnover, the Vikings offense took advantage.
Joe Webb was at QB and converted three consecutive third-down plays – the first coming on a 17-yard pass to Manny Arceneaux on a third-and-6 play, the second coming on a 12-yard scramble by Webb on a third-and-12 and the third coming on a 9-yard run from running back Caleb King on a third-and-1 play. On the second play of the fourth quarter, King completed the 11-play drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to give the Vikings a 21-0 lead that, for all intents, ended the game.
While most of the players that made the defining plays of the third quarter either won't be on their respective teams when the regular season arrives or will be bench players, those on the Vikings side can look back at the third quarter as the point where the Vikings took control of the contest and, by taking advantage of two defensive turnovers with two offensive touchdowns, created the 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 story on our subscriber message board.
Turning point: Turnovers turn into win
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