Turning Point: Knocked Down And Out

The Vikings haven't always been able to create a frantic pass rush, but when they got one early against the Titans it created the turning point of the game.

Whenever NFL teams face an opponent that is struggling but isn't convinced they're as bad their record would indicate, you can expect to see anything and everything from them. But when the Vikings knocked out the Titans' team leader, they crushed that dream for Tennessee. The Vikings defense did exactly that Sunday, making its own turning point of the game.

Heading into the second quarter, the game was tied 3-3 and the vaunted Vikings offense was being stymied by the Titans attack defense. The Vikings defense needed to provide a spark, and on the first play of the second quarter they got it in a big way.

With quarterback Steve McNair looking for something deep, he was hit low by Chris Hovan and high by Kevin Williams, aggravating McNair's sternum injury that had sidelined him earlier this season. Backup Billy Volek was forced into duty and, unlike his 56-pass performance earlier this year in relief of McNair, he wasn't expecting to come in and was bum-rushed by the Vikings defense.

With the Vikings defense in full attack mode, Volek completed only 17 of 36 passes for 190 yards. In addition, the Vikings defense, which had just one interception in the first five games, notched three — one each from Antoine Winfield, Raonall Smith and Terrance Shaw.

It didn't end there, however, as the Vikings also made a point to hammer running back Chris Brown at every turn. After gaining 31 yards on his first four carries, Brown managed only 24 yards on his final 10 rushes and was never a factor the rest of the way.

The maligned Vikings defense took control of every aspect of the game — winning the battle at the line of scrimmage, shutting down one of the best young running backs in the league and pressuring Volek on nearly every snap. But all of that was possible because of a devastating hit that knocked one of the toughest quarterbacks in the league out of the game and, in the process, created the turning point of the game.

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