Turning Point: Early Snowballs

The Vikings' road rash started early in 2005. On the second play of the game, the Bengals beat Minnesota deep and it never seemed to get any better for the mistake-prone Vikings.

The Vikings have consistently struggled outdoors in recent years. Since 2001, in their last 25 regular-season games outdoors, the Vikings have won just three. They were hoping to reverse that curse Sunday, but to do that the team knew it had to get out of the gate strong and let the Bengals know they were going to be a handful to contend with. Instead, the Vikings came out flat again and created the Turning Point of the Game very early.

It didn't take long for things to go from bad to worse for the Vikings. Needing a defensive stop early to set the tone, Minnesota allowed the Bengals to go deep on the second play of the game, when wide receiver Chad Johnson got behind Antoine Winfield and QB Carson Palmer found him deep over the middle for a 70-yard touchdown to give the Bengals a 7-0 lead in the first minute of the game.

Needing an answer, the Vikings got a couple of big carries from Michael Bennett, who had runs of 9 and 23 yards to start the game, but on his third carry he uncharacteristically fumbled and gave the ball to the Bengals in Vikings territory. Palmer again picked apart the Vikings defense, converting a pair of first downs on passes to T.J. Houshmandzadeh before finding him again on a third-and-9 play from the 12-yard line for a touchdown to give the Bengals a 14-0 lead.

The Vikings never seemed to have an opportunity to regain the early deficit they found themselves in and the problems began to snowball. When he returned to game after being benched for a quarter, Bennett fumbled again and the rout was on.

The team needed to have an answer for the Bengals' hot start and it never materialized. The damage got worse with each passing moment and, what had been envisioned as a road win to set the tone, turned into a blowout. The team never was in serious contention in the game, and it was the hot start by the Bengals and poor early showing by the Vikings that created the turning point early on.

Viking Update Top Stories