Turning Point: Time To Win

The Vikings had a number of opportunities to improve their position in Monday night's loss to the Colts, but those opportunities were often wasted because they burned timeouts earlier in the game when it wasn't necessary.

It's a mantra that has been spoken about in Vikings circles for the last couple of years — manage the clock and make wise use of timeouts. Over the last year or so, the team has gotten better at it, but there are still many questionable losses of timeouts — through bad clock management and ill-advised challenges.

Monday the inability to work the clock in either half ended up being the turning point of the game.

In the first half, the Vikings barely had a chance to consider their timeouts. After a 28-yard loss on the first offensive play of the game, the Vikings called a timeout from the sideline, facing third-and-33 from their own 11. The Vikings had a 20-yard completion negated because of the last-second timeout and, upon their return to the field, ran the ball.

On the first defensive possession, the Vikings found themselves without the right personnel on the field and, faced with first-and-10, called their second timeout less than four minutes into the game.

As the half wound down, the Vikings got into Colts territory but let time run off the clock before taking their final timeout and settling for a Morten Andersen field goal. That cut the deficit to 14-6 on a drive that easily could have used two timeouts and taken at least one shot at the end zone.

In the second half, the Vikings had to burn both their timeouts earlier than they wanted. The first, with 8:30 to play in the fourth quarter, was because they had 10 men on defense — an inexcusable faux pas. With 3:49 to play and faced with fourth-and-1, immediate indecision led to the play clock running down, and the Vikings were forced to burn a second timeout. While the drive led to points, it also left the Vikings dependent on a defensive stop that never came.

Instead of potentially forcing the Colts to kick the go-ahead field goal with more than a minute to play, being without timeouts left the Vikings at Indy's mercy. Because of clock-management issues, the Colts were able to dictate the final minutes, kick the game-winner with two seconds to play and leave the Vikings offense on the sideline — making mental mistakes the turning point of the game.

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