The Vikings offense has been nothing short of spectacular this season, but there are three phases to the game — offense, defense and special teams. Every time it seemed the Vikings offense pulled them back into the game, one of the other units let them down — creating a pathetic turning point of the game.
In any 34-31 game, there will be big plays on both sides of the ball, but the Vikings' inability to stop the Packers at key times of momentum shifts made all the difference — and there were many to choose from.
o FIRST QUARTER — Faced with third-and-10 from midfield on the game's first drive, Brett Favre launched a bomb that look destined to be intercepted by Brian Williams. But, as Williams kept running to cradle the ball in, Javon Walker adjusted his route, jumped up and made the catch at the 5-yard line, walking in for a touchdown.
o SECOND QUARTER — After scoring a field goal to cut the Packers' lead to 14-10, Ahman Green gashed the Vikings for consecutive runs of 35 and 17 yards. On the next play, Favre hit Bubba Franks for a 17-yard touchdown — moving the Packers 69 yards in three plays to take a 21-10 lead.
o SECOND QUARTER — In the final minute of the first half, the Vikings allowed Favre to convert a pair of third downs — one on a 14-yard pass on third-and-8 in Packers territory — to set up a Ryan Longwell field goal to end the half and give the Packers a 24-10 lead.
o THIRD QUARTER — After the Vikings cut into the lead with another touchdown, a special teams gaffe allowed Robert Ferguson to return the ensuing kickoff 55 yards. Favre converted two third-down passes — a 14-yarder to Antonio Chatman on third-and-10, and a 12-yarder to Walker on third-and-8 — to set up another TD and a 31-17 Packer lead.
o FOURTH QUARTER — After rallying to tie, the special teams again let Ferguson run free to the 46-yard line, where the defense surrendered a 25-yard pass to Tony Fisher that set up the game-winning field goal as time expired.
It's one thing to have a single critical play cost a team a game, but the Vikings gave up critical plays throughout the game — from beginning to end — creating their own turning point of the game.
Turning Point: Key Giveaways
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