Turning Point: Timely Playmakers

The Vikings offense got big plays and sustained drives early, and the defense seemed to get a big play every time they needed it. Their new and old playmakers made plays. Those were some of the most important aspects in a contest that pitted two similar teams.

Few things are more important to a football team than getting off to a strong start offensively and making big plays defensively to kill drives In the 27-16 preseason-pening win over the Chiefs Friday night, the Vikings did both – pulling away from the Chiefs early and never allowing them back in the game.

"We needed to get a rhythm going early," Daunte Culpepper said. "Some people might say I'm nitpicking, but I hate three-and-outs. A couple of years ago, we were close to setting an NFL record for least three-and-outs. Every time I go out on the field, I'm looking to put points on the board and we did that early."

In the first drive of the game, Culpepper led the Vikings on 65-yard march in which he completed all five of his passes, culminating with a 33-yard pass and catch to Nate Burleson in which Culpepper avoided a sack and Burleson adjusted his route and found a seam down the middle of the Chiefs defense.

The same happened when Brad Johnson came into the game. After one drive that never got off the ground, Johnson led the offense on a 72-yard drive – highlighted by a 50-yard run by Mewelde Moore and ended with a 7-yard pass from Johnson to Moore for a touchdown.

The Vikings got into the Red Zone just twice in the first half, but made the most of it – scoring 20 points.

Conversely, the Vikings defense was rolled over for much of the first half – except when the Chiefs got in close and had a chance to change the complexion of the game. In the first half, Kansas City got past midfield on four of their five drives and twice got into the Red Zone, but came away from the first half with just three points.

The Chiefs rushing attack looked solid early – Priest Holmes rushed for 42 yards on his first four carries and Larry Johnson 35 yards on his first three rushes. But, when the defense needed a stop, it got it – Kenechi Udeze stuffed Johnson at the 1-yard line in the first quarter to force the Chiefs to settle for a field goal. Later, the defense got end zone break-ups by Darren Sharper and Ralph Brown that led to a missed field goal after the Chiefs had penetrated inside the Vikings 20.

"We would have liked to have been a little better against the run," Sharper told VU. "But when we had to have a play we seemed to get it. To hold them to just three points in the first half isn't easy to do."

Both teams came into their opener looking to set a tone for the season, by being dominant on offense and making drive-killing plays on defense. The Vikings accomplished that task and the Chiefs didn't – creating the turning point of the game.

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