Turning Point: Fumbling the Game

Plenty of blame was taken for a fourth-quarter fumble that could potentially impact the shaping of the division and even the conference playoff picture, but at least one player was upset that the Vikings were even in that position.

It has been a recurring theme throughout not only the Vikings' season to date this year, but in almost all of the games between the Vikings and Bears in recent years – one or two big plays in the fourth quarter making all the difference. The Bears had one such play in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 19-16 win over the Vikings – a big defensive play in the final minutes that created the biggest turning point of the game and of the season to date.

The Vikings appeared to have the game in control after a huge third-down run by Mewelde Moore with 4:29 to play that converted a third-and-5. It was a play in which he made five Chicago defenders miss. The clock was rolling inside of four minutes and the Vikings appeared to have the game nearly locked up with the clock running.

After a first-down run by Chester Taylor, the Bears called a timeout (their second of the half) and it appeared for all intents that, even if the Vikings didn't pass the ball again or convert a first down, they could run the clock down to less than three minutes, have the Bears incapable of stopping the clock and likely pinned deep with a punt … and that would be a best-case scenario for the Bears.

Instead, the Vikings went for the throat coming out of the timeout. Brad Johnson threw an incompletion and, bent on forcing the Bears to use their final time out or let 40 seconds roll off the clock, the Vikings called a running play to Chester Taylor. As Johnson turned to hand the ball to Taylor, defensive tackle Tommie Harris hit the ball an instant after Taylor got it. The ball came loose and Chicago's Adewale Ogunleye fell on it – giving Chicago the ball on the Vikings 37-yard line.

While Taylor was branded as the player responsible for the fumble, guard Steve Hutchinson said blame is available to be shared throughout the offense.

"Ball security is a lot more than just the quarterback and the running back handing off an exchange," Hutchinson told VU. "We all have to do our job and we didn't on that play."

He went on the vent some frustration that the Vikings have had chances to put away all three of their opponents this year by larger margins than the two victories they already have and the first loss of the season Sunday.

"We've gone up and down the field against everyone we've played," Hutchinson said. "It just seems that when we get in the red zone, we shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties or sacks. It's nothing the defenses are doing to us. We've moved the ball from the 20 to the 20 (yard line) in our sleep, but then something happens to kill a drive. Today's game never should have come down to one play in the fourth quarter giving them a chance to win."

Unfortunately for the Vikings, it did and the Bears capitalized – scoring three plays later for the game-winning score with 1:53 to play. While it's too early to call any Week 3 game a "must-win" situation, the loss gives the Bears a victory over all three of the teams in the division and a road win at their strongest contender, which could make the fumble not only the Turning Point of the Game, but could eventually turn it into the Turning Point of the Season as it pertains to trying to knock the Bears off their perch atop the NFC North.

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