On a day when everything isn't running as smoothly as the Vikings would like it, big players needed to make big plays. On a day when Minnesota was outplayed for most of the game's 60 minutes, Lance Johnstone kept the Vikings in the game with a trio of huge plays, creating the turning point of the game.
The Vikings struggled both offensively and defensively and needed someone to provide a spark. That would be Johnstone at critical times during the game — each resulting in a game-turning play.
The first came in the second quarter. Already trailing 14-7, the Lions took over on their own 8-yard line and drove all the way to the Vikings 21 on 10 plays. The 11th play was a pass attempt, but Johnstone whipped his man in protection and came free for a 7-yard sack. The play forced the Lions to settle for a field goal and a 17-7 lead that kept the Vikings very much alive.
The second came in the third quarter. Still trailing 17-7, the Vikings offense went three-and-out on its first drive of the half — much to the dismay of the Vikings faithful. With the boo birds in full throat and the Lions at midfield looking to put away the Vikings, Johnstone again ended a drive with a third-down sack of Joey Harrington to force a punt and keep the Vikings within striking distance.
The third came in the final four minutes of the game. After taking a 22-19 lead, Vikings fans again feared that the defense would collapse late. But Johnstone would have none of that. For a third time on third down, Johnstone broke through and sacked Harrington — ending yet another drive.
On a day where big plays were hard to come by for most of the day, Johnstone's individual effort to get the Minnesota defense off the field and the Vikings offense another chance to do damage earned him a game ball.
Turning Point: Johnstone's Sacks
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