Turning Point: Failing to be Special

The Vikings' mistakes on special teams were enormous. Without four crucial mistakes on special teams, the Vikings could have easily had the lead in the fourth quarter.

It seems almost like clockwork that when the Vikings play in Chicago, they lower their level of play to meet the low-scoring style of the Bears. In such a scenario, one of two huge plays on offense or defense can make the difference between winning and losing. But, the Turning Point of the Game came neither against the offense nor defense, but the special teams, which stunk up the joint in a 28-3 loss.

For much of the first half, the Vikings were dominating the action. In the game's opening drive, the team drove from its own 23 all the way to the Bears 27 without even facing a third-down situation. But, when they did on a third-and-2 from the 19, Moe Williams was stuffed for no gain. The team appeared willing to settle for three points on the opening drive, but a bad snap to Brad Johnson – who had never been a holder prior to this season – botched an easy field goal attempt and the score remained 0-0.

With the game still scoreless after one quarter, the Vikings had another chance to take the lead – this time on a 52-yard attempt by Edinger. This time the snap was good, but he pushed the kick wide right and instead of potentially being ahead 6-0 the Vikings were still scoreless.

The Vikings would have a 3-0 lead that it looked like they would take to halftime, but the special teams struck again. Chris Kluwe launched a long punt that, under ordinary circumstances, most teams would have let land in the end zone. But return man Bobby Wade dropped all the way to his own 2-yard line and returned the punt 49 yards into Vikings territory. With a short field to work with in the final two minutes, the Bears scored the go-ahead touchdown. After spending the entire first half without getting into Minnesota territory, Chicago went to halftime with a 7-3 lead, thanks almost solely to the mistakes of the special teams.

Needing a spark to regain control of the game, the Vikings got a turnover from the defense when Pat Williams forced a fumble by Thomas Jones and Keith Newman recovered. The Vikings once again got into the red zone and sputtered, but a field goal by Edinger would have cut the deficit to 7-6. Instead the kick was blocked and the Vikings wouldn't score again.

Had the team made just one of its three field goal attempts in the first 35 minutes of the game, even once the Bears scored a second touchdown it would have remained a one-possession game. But because of the numerous mistakes – that took nine points off the board for the Vikings and set up the Bears' only points at the time.


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