There are drives – both good and bad – that can define a season. The Vikings offense had been putrid for more than two games, going more than 125 minutes of game time without an offensive touchdown. Despite forcing Green Bay into a pair of three-and-outs to start to start the second half, the Vikings offense needed everyone to pull together for a big-time drive to get back into Monday night's game with the Packers. What they got was the drive of the year and the Turning Point of the Game.
The Vikings started the drive with 9:19 to play in the third quarter, trailing 14-7. The team got production from several key players to get the drive that they may look back on later as the big difference-maker in their season. But it almost got snuffed before it got started.
The Vikings were faced with a third-and-2 early in the drive and, if they failed on that play, they would have to punt to the Packers – who would likely set up shop in Vikings territory. Instead, Brad Johnson flipped a pass to Koren Robinson, who made a diving catch for a 5-yard gain to move the chains.
Jermaine Wiggins then got into the act, as Johnson converted another first down with a pass of 13 yards. The team then employed a little trickery with an 8-yard reverse to Troy Williamson, which was followed up by a 7-yard run by Mewelde Moore to move the chains and get the Vikings into Green Bay territory.
The big plays kept on coming, as Johnson flipped a short pass to Wiggins, who hurdled a tackler to pick up 17 yards and, on the next play, Moore took a handoff wide for 13 more yards down to the Green Bay 16-yard line.
The drive looked to stall out as the team was faced with a third-and-6 from the 12 and Johnson went for Wiggins in the end zone. It was a good call, but safety Mark Roman pushed Wiggins at the goal line – which appeared to be a pass interference because the ball was in the air, but instead was ruled illegal contact that gave the Vikings a first down on the 7-yard line.
One play later, the Packers were again called for pass interference, as Jason Horton cut off Koren Robinson trying to get a slant route in the end zone and the ball was placed on the 1-yard line. It would take two plays, but Ciatrick Fason would plow in from a yard out to give the Vikings a touchdown to tie the game and put the pressure squarely on the Packers in the fourth quarter.
When the frozen dust has settled, the numbers were staggering – 13 plays (15 plays if you add in the two plays that had penalties attached) for 88 yards in a drive that took 8:33 off the clock. What started as a chance for the Packers to put away the Vikings with nine minutes left in the third turned into a game-tying score. To make matters better was that everyone got involved. The offensive line opened enough holes to allow the Vikings to run nine times for 35 yards and complete 4-of-4 passes for 37 yards. Johnson did his part, Moore moved the chains twice, Michael Bennett added a couple of runs, Wiggins caught three passes for 31 yards, K-Rob moved the sticks and Fason finished off the drive with seven points instead of three. It may well turn out not to be the drive of the year when all is said and done, but it most surely was the Turning Point of the Game that kept the team's playoff hopes alive and well.
Turning Point: The Drive That Counted Most
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