In most games, the tempo can be lopsided in one team's favor in the opening minutes. When it came to Friday's game with the hapless 49ers, it was critical for the Vikings to get off to a fast start and create the turning point of the game.
The Vikings wasted little time in dispatching the 49ers, both offensively and defensively. The Vikings did just that — taking what the Niners would give them on offense and getting the San Francisco offense off the field in a hurry. They did both with an assassin's precision.
The Vikes took the opening kickoff and got a 43-yard return from Mewelde Moore to set up in 49ers territory. With the defense bracketing Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper completed passes of 8, 21 and 17 yards to Nate Burleson — the last of the three being a touchdown pass to give the Vikes a 7-0 lead just two minutes in.
The defense did its part early, forcing the Niners into a three-and-out thanks to a sack by Kenechi Udeze. With momentum firmly on their side, Culpepper came out passing again. After completing consecutive passes of 6 and 11 yards to Jim Kleinsasser and 4 and 8 yards to Moss, Culpepper went deep to Kelly Campbell — connecting with a perfect 26-yard strike for another touchdown and a 13-0 Vikings lead.
The dominance in the first quarter was oppressive. The Vikings outgained the 49ers 175 yards to 9 in the first quarter, with 132 yards passing compared to just 3 for the 49ers. The objective of taking the Niners' first team out of the game early and showing Minnesota's dominance on both sides of the ball was executed to perfection and, in the process, created a very early turning point of the game.
Turning Point: First-Quarter Oppression
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