Turning Point: Early Strikes

The Vikings won the coin toss and easily won the battle for early momentum, putting the crowd in a frenzy and both the offense and defense in "the zone" against the 49ers.

A game can turn on several key moments. As players and coaches will attest, each game has its own flow and style. Sometimes a game can be over for one team before it gets a chance to begin. In Sunday's win over the 49ers, the game turned before the opening kickoff, and something as seemingly meaningless as a coin flip proved to be the turning point of the game.

As the road team, the 49ers were able to call the coin toss and called "tails." It came up heads and the Vikings fans, already in a frenzy from the pregame introductions, got to see their offensive heroes on the field to start the game. It was the third time in four games that the Vikings offense was on the field first. For the third straight time, the team scored a TD on the opening drive and would never trail.

This start would snowball and never let up, as big plays mounted early and never allowed the 49ers to have a chance. Consider the following:

* After winning the toss, the Vikings drove 72 yards in nine plays, highlighted by a 22-yard pass to Randy Moss and a 15-yard Moss TD. Crowd gets loud.

* The crowd caused a false start on the Niners' first offensive play. On Jeff Garcia's second pass attempt, he was intercepted by Corey Chavous, who returned the pick to the 49ers 38-yard line. Crowd noise much louder.

* The Vikings drove eight plays for another touchdown — the final seven of them runs — to take a 14-0 lead with 2:36 left in the first quarter. Crowd gets painfully loud.

* After a pair of defensive stands, the Vikings offense put together an 88-yard drive, highlighted by a 35-yard TD pass to Moss. Crowd becomes deafening.

* After a second Garcia interception, Gus Frerotte threw his third TD of the day, this time to Nate Burleson, to give the Vikings a 28-0 lead. Crowd noise begins to subside, because the game is effectively over.

The 49ers never had a chance in the game. The Vikings took control of the momentum early and never let loose — offensively or defensively. And it all began with the 49ers losing the coin toss — and inadvertently creating the turning point of the game.

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