Mike Tice is one of those coaches who constantly harps on "explosive plays" — game-turning plays of 20 or more yards that can turn wins into losses (and vice versa) in a hurry. Sunday, there weren't a lot of big plays, but the biggest were all for the Vikings and created the turning points of the game.
There wasn't a play of 20 yards or more until early in the second quarter. Avoiding a sack, Daunte Culpepper threw an awkward shovel pass to Moe Williams that he turned into a 22-yard gain with the Vikings trailing 10-0. Two plays later, that deficit was reduced to 10-6 when the Vikings scored a touchdown.
The next two explosive plays came on the same drive. Pinned on their own 2-yard line, the Vikings needed a drive to get momentum away from the Lions. It came in a hurry, as Williams bounced an inside run outside and found open space for 61 yards. Two plays later, a short crossing pass to Nate Burleson became a 29-yard gain to the Lions 2-yard line. On the next play, the Vikings would take the lead for good at 13-10.
A fourth big play came with 35 seconds left in the first half. With Culpepper out, the Lions weren't expecting backup Gus Frerotte to go for the throat, but he completed a 72-yard bomb to Randy Moss that led to a field goal and a 16-10 Vikings halftime lead.
A fifth and final big play came on the second drive of the second half. Frerotte found Kelly Campbell behind the defense and completed a 72-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 23-13 lead.
The Lions had a couple explosive plays of their own in the second half — a 23-yard pass to Bill Schroeder and a 34-yarder to Mikhael Ricks — but neither would factor into any scoring. The final score on the big-play counter was 5-2 in favor of the Vikings, with the two Lions explosive plays leading to no points and the five Vikings big plays leading to all 23 points.
Turning Point: Vikings Explosion
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