Turning Point: Bad Endings

The Vikings had a good start on offense, but mistakes late in the first half by the first-team defense, followed by miscues all around for the rest of the game, did in the Vikings.

In preseason games, more times than not it's how the starters finish that's important to them and how the second-line players start out that's important to them. Neither turned out well for the Vikings and helped create the turning point of the game.

The Vikings had dominated the opening to the game. Of the first 22 minutes, 33 seconds of game action, the Vikings had held the ball for 18:41 – as opposed to just 3:52 for the Jets. But, after a scoreless first quarter, the Vikings put together a drive that covered 76 yards and took five and a half minutes. For Daunte Culpepper and some of the other offensive starters, the game was over. The full starting defense was prepared for one more series in hopes of a third straight three-and-out series. It wouldn't materialize.

After doing nothing through his first two series, Chad Pennington peppered the Vikings with passes, starting with an incomplete bomb that got a standing ovation from Jets fans worried about his surgically repaired shoulder. Pennington would complete his next six passes – culminating with a 20-yard TD to Laveranues Coles, who burned Brian Williams for the score to tie the game 7-7.

A Michael Bennett fumble put the defense back on the field less than two minutes later, and backup Jay Fiedler found the pickings just as easy. He needed only two plays – a 17-yard pass to Jerricho Cotchery and an 18-yard TD to Wayne Chrebet (again burning Brian Williams for another score).

Brad Johnson wouldn't be able to muster another first down in the first half, sending the Vikings to halftime trailing 14-7. But, things looked to improve when the Vikings stopped the Jets on downs on their first series, but a muffed punt by Daryle Jones gave the Jets the ball on the 3-yard line, where a pass interference penalty by Adrian Ward on third down kept the drive alive and led to another touchdown and a 21-7 Jets lead.

From the offensive perspective, the Vikings' first-teamers left the field with a 7-0 lead, but thanks to collapses on offense, defense and special teams, an awful last look and first look for a lot of players let the momentum of the game alter drastically.

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