Turning Point: Long Ball

The Vikings' first- and second-string offenses tried to sustain drives, but when they needed to score it was the long ball that did the job.

In preseason games, coaches and players know that the front-line troops will see limited action, making their drives more important. The Vikings came out looking to sustain drives, but, when they went back to going for the big play — their hallmark over the last few seasons — they created the turning point of the game.

It was clear from the outset that the Vikings were going to try to get Randy Moss involved with short possession passes. When Daunte Culpepper did try to go long to Moss in the first possession, he threw into triple coverage and was intercepted. On the second drive, Culpepper completed three straight short passes before a low pass to Moss ended the second drive.

The Vikings offense had dialed up Moss on two-thirds of their pass plays with little to show for it.

Shifting gears in the second quarter, the Vikings threw out the short controlled game, with quick and game-turning results. On their first drive of the second quarter, Culpepper completed passes of 16 yards to Nate Burleson and 15 yards to Jermaine Wiggins. With the defense now concerned about more than just Moss, the Vikings went back to No. 84 on a 48-yard bomb for a touchdown.

With the starters out, Gus Frerotte continued the formula that was working, connecting on a 55-yard catch-and-run to Marcus Robinson to the Arizona 7-yard line, setting up a field goal to give the Vikes a 10-3 lead. On the next drive, Frerotte again used the deep ball — a 24-yard pass to Burleson — to set up another field goal to give the Vikings a 13-3 lead they would take to halftime.

Sometimes, the best laid plans don't pan out the way coaches intended. Fortunately for the Vikings, they can fall back on what works well for them — the long ball. In this instance, it turned a lackluster opener into domination.

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