Turning Point: The Drive To Win

First the Vikings got out of the shadow of their own end zone, and then they decided it was time to win the game with an impressive (and lengthy) drive in the fourth quarter. It left Daunte Culpepper and Mike Tice impressed with the way it worked out.

Had the Vikings' final offensive drive of Sunday night's game been in December or in a January playoff game, it would have earned a nickname like John Elway's "The Drive." After building a 17-3 lead in the second quarter, the Vikings offense had fallen silent, allowing the Bears to climb back within 17-13 with 12:38 to play. After a Chicago punt was covered on the 7-yard line, the Vikings were 93 yards from paydirt with momentum on the other sideline.

"I don't think I've seen many things prettier than the final drive," Vikings coach Mike Tice told VU. "We hadn't been able to get any rhythm in the second half, but the guys pulled it together."

Perhaps the most gratifying aspect was how many different players made contributions to the drive. Starting from the 7-yard line, the Vikings ran four straight times — twice by Moe Williams and twice by Onterrio Smith to move the ball out to the 32-yard line. At that point, the Vikings coaches started looking at the clock.

"After we got those first two (first downs), the coaches started telling me to work the clock down before the snap," Daunte Culpepper told VU. "We weren't looking at the clock. It was just working out that way."

Following the two initial first downs, the Vikings found themselves facing three consecutive third-and-1 plays. They converted all of them, on a 2-yard sweep by Williams, a 19-yard reverse by Kelly Campbell and a 17-yard run by Williams to the 3-yard line.

Not only did the Vikings' drive consume almost 10 minutes, it would have taken more had the Bears not stopped the clock twice with timeouts. In the end, the timeouts didn't help, as Culpepper converted a fourth straight third down with an 11-yard TD pass to Jim Kleinsasser.

There are drives that build the character of teams and this drive, while it solidified a win, was not only the turning point of the game, but it has a chance to be the turning point of the season.



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