Turning Point: Patience In Passing

The Bears came out and dared the Vikings to stay patient in their passing game with underneath options. Mike Tice said he knew that approach was coming, and after the Vikings did stay patient they were finally given an opportunity to explode.

For six quarters, the Vikings offense had been the subject of a similar defensive style — one installed by former Vikings defensive coordinator Tony Dungy. Both the Eagles the previous Monday and the Bears on Sunday employed the same defense and made the Vikings attack it. Once they figured out how to attack it, things turned around — and created the turning point of the game.

"Both of them used a Tampa Cover-2 defense," coach Mike Tice told VU. "They would give up a lot of underneath stuff and didn't think we would have the patience for them."

As it turned out, they did.

While Daunte Culpepper completed most of his passes in the first half, almost all of them were of the short variety — essentially taking what the Bears defense was allowing. In the second half, however, the Bears tried to mix up coverages and got burned by it in many key respects.

Ahead just 10-6 at halftime, the Vikings had only one play of more than 20 yards that keyed a scoring drive. In the second half, that changed in a big way.

On the first drive of the second half, Culpepper completed a 44-yard bomb to Randy Moss on a third-and-23 play and, one play later, with the Bears anticipating pass, a draw to Onterrio Smith picked up 38 yards — leading to a Vikings TD and a 17-6 lead.

With the lead shaved to 17-9, a 33-yard crossing pass to Moss put the Vikings in scoring position again. Morten Andersen made good on the field position with a 24-yard field goal to make the score 20-9.

After the Bears had again cut into the lead, it was another monster play — a 63-yard catch-and-run by Nate Burleson that set up the Vikings' final touchdown.

During the Eagles game and the first half of the Bears game, the Vikings had been content to take what the Cover-2 allows, completing short passes underneath while the cornerbacks and safeties followed the wideouts down the field. Once the Vikings proved they could succeed, the Bears tried to switch things up. The result? Four plays that combined to gain 178 of the Vikings' 360 total yards and 17 of their 27 points — finding a patient way to make the turning point of the game.

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