Interception Turns Game Around

The Vikings had a chance to take a halftime lead -- or at least tie the game -- but a bad interception late in the first half turned an unlikely bid for a road upset into the Ravens' halftime momentum.

Some turning points aren't very obvious. Some are so obvious they slap you across the face. The Vikings saw their fortunes spin three times in the span of 45 seconds that changed the complexion of Monday's game and turned a possible playoff-ending game for the Ravens into a victory.

The Vikings defense had played admirably, especially in the red zone, during the first half. With little more than a minute to play in the half, long snapper Dale Hellestrae — brought in days before the game after a punting decable the previous week — one-hopped a snap to punter Kyle Richardson, who couldn't handle the bouncing ball and fell on it at the Ravens 10-yard line. After a half in which the Vikings had accomplished little on offense, they had a chance to go into halftime with the lead or, at worst, a tie … or so one would think.

On the next play, Spergon Wynn went for the lead, throwing a fade pass for Randy Moss. The ball was woefully underthrown and intercepted by Chris McAlister. Moss never had a chance to catch the ball and did his best to play the role of defensive back. The pass was so poorly thrown that McAllister, who leaped in the air expecting a jump ball, caught the ball on his hip and fell in the end zone.

With the Ravens having the ball back, they were content to be conservative to avoid giving the Vikings another chance. After running the ball once, Elvis Grbac threw a 5-yard crossing pass to Brandon Stokley, who caught the ball and found a blown coverage and missed tackles he exploited for a 46-yard gain.

In the span of just 45 seconds, the Vikings had gone from a chance to take a 10-6 lead into halftime, which could have provided the spark the team would need. They were getting the opening kickoff of the second half, and that could have propelled them to an unlikely win. Even if the drive had sputtered, the Vikings could have gone into halftime tied 6-6 — a moral victory that they could have used to build upon in the second half.

Instead, the Vikings trailed 9-3 after the Stokley catch led to a Matt Stover field goal as time ran out in the half. The team was deflated. After getting the big break it needed to compete in the game, in 45 seconds it all went away. Three plays out of more than 130 during the game came in succession and created the turning point of the game. VU

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