Turning point: Defense, special teams lapses

The Vikings showed why time of possession can be a misleading stat when all it takes is one – or four – big mistakes to turn a stats-sheet domination into a scoreboard disappointment.

On a night when the Vikings' backups held the ball for more than 36 minutes and rolled up 562 yards of offense, you would have thought they would have won Thursday's preseason finale by double digits. Instead, it was a series of gaffes in the other two phases of the team that led to a 28-24 loss to the Houston Texans and created a head-scratching turning point of the game.

In each of the first three preseason games, the Vikings started the game with the ball. Thursday in Houston, they didn't … and the defense helped create a hole the offense was never able to climb out of. On the second play of the game, running back Justin Forsett broke off a 52-yard run to get the Texans deep into Vikings territory. Four plays later, Forsett closed out the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to give Houston a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.

The Vikings dominated time of possession over the next 22 minutes of game action, but after the first two possessions of the game the Vikings were still behind 7-3. They had Houston pinned on its own 20-yard line and had the Texans defense on its heels. That was until Larry Dean tried to make a kill shot instead of a tackle.

Quarterback John Beck threw a 15-yard crossing pass to rookie DeVier Posey and Dean launched himself with his shoulder rather than trying to make a wrap-up tackle. He ended up on the highlight film, but not in the way he intended. Posey was knocked sideways but not off his feet. When safety Eric Frampton slid down Posey's legs, Posey was off to the races, finishing off an 80-yard touchdown. Despite have a massive disparity in time of possession, the Texans led 14-3 with 4:21 to play in the first half.

The Vikings put together an impressive drive in the final two minutes of the first half to cut the deficit to 14-10, but it was now the special teams' turn to get into the act. After the Vikings' first drive of the second half stalled before it could get started, the Vikings had to punt. Trindon Holliday, who has been one of the players most discussed as a breakout type after returning two punts for touchdowns already in the preseason, did it yet again. Fielding the punt on his own 24-yard line, Holliday got a couple of early blocks and, once in the open field, he wasn't going to get caught – racing 76 yards for a touchdown. Despite having the ball for less than 10 minutes of the game's first 31:34, they led 21-10.

After the Vikings offense again used the big play to get back into the game at 21-17, the defense finally stepped up and got a three-and-out from Houston. Momentum was finally turning back toward the Vikings. However, the special teams again made a critical error. Punt returner Reggie Jones muffed a punt and couldn't find it and the Texans recovered on the Vikings 32-yard line. Five plays later, Forsett crossed the goal line and, despite a near two-to-one time of possession disparity, Houston held a 28-17 lead.

On a night when several Vikings players made big impressions on offense, it was the gaffes from the defense and special teams that gave the Texans the win.


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.



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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" On a night when the Vikings' backups held the ball for more than 36 minutes and rolled up 562 yards of offense, you would have thought they would have won Thursday's preseason finale by double digits. Instead, it was a series of gaffes in the other two phases of the team that led to a 28-24 loss to the Houston Texans and created a head-scratching turning point of the game. In each of the first three preseason games, the Vikings started the game with the ball. Thursday in Houston, they didn't … and the defense helped create a hole the offense was never able to climb out of. On the second play of the game, running back Justin Forsett broke off a 52-yard run to get the Texans deep into Vikings territory. Four plays later, Forsett closed out the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to give Houston a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game. The Vikings dominated time of possession over the next 22 minutes of game action, but after the first two possessions of the game the Vikings were still behind 7-3. They had Houston pinned on its own 20-yard line and had the Texans defense on its heels. That was until Larry Dean tried to make a kill shot instead of a tackle. Quarterback John Beck threw a 15-yard crossing pass to rookie DeVier Posey and Dean launched himself with his shoulder rather than trying to make a wrap-up tackle. He ended up on the highlight film, but not in the way he intended. Posey was knocked sideways but not off his feet. When safety Eric Frampton slid down Posey's legs, Posey was off to the races, finishing off an 80-yard touchdown. Despite have a massive disparity in time of possession, the Texans led 14-3 with 4:21 to play in the first half. The Vikings put together an impressive drive in the final two minutes of the first half to cut the deficit to 14-10, but it was now the special teams' turn to get into the act. After the Vikings' first drive of the second half stalled before it could get started, the Vikings had to punt. Trindon Holliday, who has been one of the players most discussed as a breakout type after returning two punts for touchdowns already in the preseason, did it yet again. Fielding the punt on his own 24-yard line, Holliday got a couple of early blocks and, once in the open field, he wasn't going to get caught – racing 76 yards for a touchdown. Despite having the ball for less than 10 minutes of the game's first 31:34, they led 21-10. After the Vikings offense again used the big play to get back into the game at 21-17, the defense finally stepped up and got a three-and-out from Houston. Momentum was finally turning back toward the Vikings. However, the special teams again made a critical error. Punt returner Reggie Jones muffed a punt and couldn't find it and the Texans recovered on the Vikings 32-yard line. Five plays later, Forsett crossed the goal line and, despite a near two-to-one time of possession disparity, Houston held a 28-17 lead. On a night when several Vikings players made big impressions on offense, it was the gaffes from the defense and special teams that gave the Texans the win. 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