One of the keys to winning on the road, especially in domed stadiums, is to get the crowd out of the game and not let them become a factor. The Vikings were able to do that on both of their opening possession of each half – giving themselves a huge advantage and creating the Turning Point of the Game.
Coming into Sunday's game, the Vikings had no idea what sort of Lions team they would be facing. The team had fired its coach and benched its starting quarterback and, in some instances, everyone else on the team rallies around that to bring additional emotion to the sidelines. Taking the fans out of the game was going to be critical, and the Vikings did it twice – in very different manners.
The Ford Field crowd was into the game early, as the Lions put together a 13-play drive to open the game. While Detroit had to settle for a field goal, Lions fans and players had reason for optimism. That was, until the Vikings offense took the field.
Primed to attack the Lions' high-risk, high-reward corners, the Vikings came out with a play designed to be a game-breaker – a bomb for speedster Koren Robinson. On the snap, Robinson gave an inside move that turned cornerback R.W. McQuarters around. He then kicked in his speed and sped full stride down the right sideline. Brad Johnson sold the play with a pump fake and had Robinson wide open for an 80-yard touchdown, and the cheers that had started the game turned quickly to boos as the Vikings had the ball just 10 seconds on offense and had seven points to show for it.
The Lions got a huge break late in the first half when a 38-yard punt return by Eddie Drummond set the Lions up on the Vikings 18-yard line. But three incompletions later, the Lions settled for a field goal and, despite being hugely outplayed in the first half, trailed by just eight points. The fans were back into the game and the Vikings needed another drive to silence them.
They would produce again. Starting from his own 36-yard line, Johnson would engineer a drive of a much different type than they used to open the game. While Koren Robinson had been the star on the opening play, Johnson moved the chains with passes of 14 yards to Travis Taylor, 15 yards to Nate Burleson and 13 yards to K-Rob to get the Vikings in the red zone. After a couple of runs got the Vikings to the 5-yard line, a little flip pass to Michael Bennett got the remaining five yards and a touchdown to give the Vikings a 21-6 lead that they never fully surrendered.
As it would turn out, those would be the last points of the game for the Vikings, but it proved to be all they would need. The crowd wouldn't get back into the game until the fourth quarter and, by that point, the Lions were playing out of desperation. The Vikings took the crowd out of the game and, in the process, created the Turning Point of the Game.
Turning Point: Different Means, Same End
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