It's hard to define a turning point in a game where the starters are out after one quarter, but, in the Vikings' 16-13 loss, there were dozens of potential turning points – from the first play to the last. The game started with the Vikings fumbling the opening kickoff and ended with the team refusing to kick a potential game-tying field goal that would have sent the game to overtime.
After digging an early hole when Troy Williamson's fumble gave the Raiders the game's first break inside the Vikings 20, the Vikings first drive of the Brad Childress era was anything but impressive – a 4-yard run by Chester Taylor and a pair of short completions from Brad Johnson to Tony Richardson that came up short of the first down. But, with their second chance, the offense gave Vikings fans what they expect will be a sneak peak into the future – a drive that will define the type of offense they run.
"You need to have a rhythm in this type of offense and we got a little of that on our second drive," running back Chester Taylor said. "You don't have to have huge plays to succeed. Just a bunch of plays that work."
The Vikings did just that in the drive that gave them a 7-3 lead. A pair of Taylor runs and a couple of offside penalties on the Raiders got the drive rolling. Johnson then took over the controls, completing passes of 7 yards to Koren Robinson and 8 yards to Williamson. The Vikings didn't face a third-down situation until the team was on Oakland's 25-yard line and then went to what might be their bread and butter – a run to the left side by Taylor on a third-and-2 that picked up a first down.
After a pass interference penalty put the ball on the 3-yard line, the Vikings came out with split backs behind Johnson, giving the ball to Richardson with Taylor as his lead blocker. Richardson scored on a 3-yard run for the score – his first touchdown since 2002. For a guy who has made blocking his bread and butter as running backs Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson have set scoring records, getting in the end zone was something he enjoyed about the versatility of the West Coast Offense, but not something he's counting on too often.
"They kind of ‘sugar' the fullback during preseason," Richardson said with a smile. "I may not get back in the end zone the rest of the year. I know once the regular season starts, Chester will be diving over the top and I'll end up with mud in my facemask. It was good to get the ball in tonight, but I'm not going to expect it too many times."
Whether or not it becomes a trend or not, the first-team offense's scoring drive was indicative of what Vikings fans can expect from the West Coast Offense – a methodical, ram-the-ball-down-your throat offense that will key on mismatches and quick reads. It worked to perfection for one drive Monday night and may be the result of many turning points of the game in the 2006 season for the Vikings.
Turning Point: Vikings Hang Hat on 2nd Drive
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