Turning Point: Many Happy Returns

Until this year, special teams were never a highlight of the Mike Tice head-coaching era. Until this game, the NFL had never seen the likes of what the Vikings accomplished with their return units – NFL history.

In some games, a turning point can come from a single play or a group of plays – either in a row or spread out through a game. But, when you do something that has never been done in the history of the game, if that doesn't qualify as the Turning Point of the Game, nothing will.

In Sunday's 24-21 win over the Giants, the Vikings offense didn't score until 10 seconds were left on the clock, thanks to a feat that had never been accomplished in the annals of NFL history – scoring touchdowns on a kickoff return, a punt return and an interception return.

Of all the numbers that dominated the game, the one that stood out is the one fans have to dig deep to find – the number 394. No, it's not the highway of the same number that runs a few miles north of Winter Park. That is how many yards the Vikings had in returns Sunday – almost three times as many as they had on offense.

Three components made up the 394-yard total. The first was interception return yards. The Vikings had four interceptions of Eli Manning that gained 149 yards. Of that, 92 yards came on an interception by Darren Sharper that was returned for a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter, giving some consolation to the Vikings not making good on two field goal attempts in the first quarter.

The second number that led into the 394 yards on returns was in kickoff returns. The Vikings only had four returns but picked up 158 yards – 86 of those coming from Koren Robinson on the opening play of the second half for a second Vikings touchdown that gave the team a 14-6 lead.

After the Giants had cut the deficit to 14-13 on their first drive of the second half, the final component of the 394 came into play – 87 yards of punt returns. The Giants only punted three times, but one of them was a 71-yard touchdown return by Mewelde Moore that gave the Vikings a 21-13 lead.

While the Vikings offense came up with just enough forward movement at the end of the game to get into range for the winning field goal, it was the 394 yards in returns that made all the difference and, in the process, created the Turning Point of the Game.

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