For the entire 2005 season, the Vikings and Detroit Lions have shared one shameful statistic – they've both been beaten down in the second quarter.
Coming into today's game, it was clear that whoever won the second quarter would likely win the game. Why? Because in their combined nine losses coming in, both the Vikings and Lions had seen games get away from them in the second quarter. For the Lions, that meant being outscored 68-31 – the only quarter in which 3-4 Detroit had been outscored by their opponents. In the same vein, the Vikings had been outscored 94-10 in the second quarter, as opposed to being outscored 99-93 in the other three quarters combined.
Something had to give and, as expected, it did – in a big way – to create the Turning Point of the Game.
"We've had games like this all year – where it's close after one quarter and then something goes wrong," cornerback Antoine Winfield told VU. "We've been on both sides of that and today when things got going well for us, it just kept building."
It was a full-team effort that got started with the special teams, when Mewelde Moore had a 30-yard punt return to put the Vikings in Detroit territory for their first drive of the second quarter. The offense did its job, as Brad Johnson converted a pair of third downs with passes to rookie Troy Williamson and finished the drive with a 5-yard shovel pass to Michael Bennett for a touchdown and a 10-0 Vikings lead. Now it was time for the defense to get into the act.
With the Lions looking to stop the bleeding, Joey Harrington was hit from behind by a blitzing Brian Williams and fumbled. It was recovered by Kevin Williams, who returned the ball to the Lions 14-yard line. From there, it took just three plays – capped by the first career touchdown for rookie Ciatrick Fason – to give the Vikings a 17-0 lead and the rout appeared to be on.
Refusing to let up, the Vikings kept the pressure on the Lions and, as if on cue, another turnover was the result. A big pass rush on Harrington forced him to throw a high pass to running back Artose Pinner, who made an attempt to pull it down, but instead tipped the ball in the air before it was intercepted by Antoine Winfield and returned to the Detroit 11.
It took the Vikings just three plays to capitalize on that turnover, as Johnson completed a 15-yard mini-Hail Mary to Nate Burleson for a touchdown, a 24-0 lead and the feeling that for once things were on the Vikings' side.
"We went on a hard count, (center) Melvin Fowler saw the guy jump and we knew we had a free play," Johnson said. "I just closed my eyes and threw it into the end zone. I thought it would go out of bounds and didn't see what had happened until I saw the referee signal touchdown."
In the span of seven offensive plays, the Vikings scored 21 points and turned what could have been a second-half nail-biter into a blowout, as strong play from the offense, defense and special teams created the Turning Point of the Game.
Turning Point: Second-Quarter Barrage
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