Turning Point: Vikings Explosion

The Vikings used the big play for all of their scoring drives, and the Vikings defense limited Detroit's explosiveness.

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.



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