Turning Point: Nine-Minute Difference

The Vikings scored in a variety of ways during a flurry surrounding halftime and seized momentum from the Broncos in a hurry.

Every game has an ebb and flow of its own. For much of the first half of the Vikings-Broncos game, the defenses dominated. The Broncos had some explosive playmakers at their disposal, but in a span of nine minutes the Denver offense was only on the field for three plays — and it was this stretch that clearly created the turning point of the game.

The Broncos had been victimized by turnovers in the first half, but following a nine-play drive, Denver was tied with Minnesota at 7-7 with 1:51 to play in the half and, while not satisfied with their offensive performance, the Broncos were still very much in the game.

That is, until the roof caved in.

The Vikings seemed prepared to run out the clock in the first half after a sack of Daunte Culpepper, but with 12 seconds remaining and the clock ticking, Culpepper dialed up Randy Moss for a long pass. Moss caught the pass on the 11-yard line and was going to be tackled when he flipped the ball over his head like a no-look pass in basketball. The flip hit Moe Williams in stride and he took the pitch the remaining 15 yards, giving the Vikings a 14-7 lead at halftime and crushing any momentum the Broncos had built.

"It was a great play by a great athlete," Denver coach Mike Shanahan said. "He had the presence to know it was the end of the half and made something happen because he knew time was running out. He did what a great athlete does — he made a play."

Coming out of halftime, the Vikings got the second-half kickoff and marched 71 yards on 10 plays, culminating with a 5-yard TD run by Onterrio Smith to open a 21-7 lead without Denver's offense touching the ball.

When the Broncos finally did get the ball, it ended badly. After a pair of rushes, Steve Beuerlein's first pass was intercepted by Lance Johnstone and returned 33 yards for a touchdown, giving the Vikings a 28-7 lead with 7:57 to play in the third quarter and turning the game from a nail-biter into a rout.

Denver would make a late rally, but it was too little too late. In the end, during the time it took Denver's offense to run three plays after scoring its first points, the Vikings scored three touchdowns, creating a span that turned the game in the Vikings' favor.

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