Turning Point: Unlikely Playmakers?

The Vikings got contributions from a number of unlikely sources Sunday in Houston, but two of the biggest plays came from veterans who previously had their roles limited by head coach Mike Tice.

Head coach Mike Tice has had a history of calling players out in public. For some players, that strategy hasn't worked. But for two players who Tice had called out for their lack of production it seemed to serve as a motivator and helped dictate the turning point of the game.

Tice, along with Vikings fans, had been expecting big things from wide receiver Marcus Robinson and defensive tackle Chris Hovan. Robinson, who was brought in as a free agent to be the speed receiver opposite Randy Moss, was called to the carpet by Tice during the preseason, when hamstring problems had Robinson shutting down his practice routine and losing his starting job. For Hovan, a four-year starter for the Vikings, his limited number of plays became public at a media-open practice last week — a move Hovan strongly disagreed with.

But both would play a critical role in saving a victory for the Vikings.

With the game tied in overtime, the Vikings offense was sputtering. The three previous drives had ended in three-and-out series and, for the first time since the first quarter, the Texans had the ball with a chance to take the lead — in overtime their first lead would be the last lead. Fortunately for the Vikings, that never happened.

Quarterback David Carr, who had led the Texans on three scoring drives in the fourth quarter, was back at it again — completing passes of 9 yards to Corey Bradford and 17 yards to Derick Armstrong to get their first overtime drive started. But, faced with third-and-2, Hovan broke through the line for a sack — his first of the season — to force a punt.

Then it was Robinson's turn for redemption. He got the Vikings' second overtime drive started with an 11-yard reception. After dropping what looked to be a potential touchdown pass later in the drive, Robinson put a speed move on rookie cornerback Dunta Robinson, and Daunte Culpepper hit his speedy wide receiver in stride for a 50-yard touchdown to end the game.

Whether fans agree with Tice's practice of calling out players to get more out of them is irrelevant. It seems to have worked for both Hovan and Robinson and, when the Vikings needed big plays, both of them came through — creating the overtime turning point of the game.

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