Turning Point: Defensive Lockdowns

The Vikings needed big plays from their defense to overcome a 17-3 fourth-quarter deficit and got more than just turnovers, they got defensive touchdowns. See what some of the playmakers had to say about them.

In every season, there are defining moments that coaches or players point to as being the moments that turned things around for the team – for better or for worse. If the Vikings are a playoff team this year, they may well point back to a couple of big plays in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 26-17 win over the Lions as being not only the Turning Point of the Game Sunday, but one of the pivotal moments of the season.

Playing in front of the 89th consecutive sellout at the Metrodome, the Vikings' fans were anything but happy when the team fell behind 17-3 in the second half. Entering the fourth quarter, the Vikings offense was finally knocking on the door for a score, but they were still down by seven points after their touchdown and would need some big plays from the defense to get the job completely done.

The Lions looked to have the game sewn up when kick returner Eddie Drummond returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown that would have made the score 24-10. Instead, a block-in-the-back penalty on linebacker Donte Curry brought the touchdown back and pinned the Lions on the 10-yard line.

As Jon Kitna tried to get the Lions out of trouble, Pat Williams blew through an open hole and hit Kitna as he was still dropping to pass. The ball came out and rolled into the end zone, where Ben Leber chased it down for a touchdown. But, problems on the ensuing extra point haunted the Vikings, leaving them still behind 17-16.

"They tried to set up a screen right by me and I just played it quick and was gone," said the nimble Williams. "It was all downhill after that."

After a three-and-out on the next series, the Vikings offense got as close as the Lions 1-yard line, but had to settle for a field goal to give Minnesota a 19-17 lead.

With the game still very much up in the air, the Vikings defense again went into lockdown mode. Flushed from the pocket on a fourth-down play, Kitna was intercepted by E.J. Henderson, who returned the pick 45 yards for a touchdown to salt the game away for the Vikings.

"I think he was trying to throw it up for grabs, hoping somebody (from the Lions) would catch it," Henderson said. "I just happened to be there. He did that on the one that Big Pat (Williams) got him."

While there may be bigger games later in the season, to this point, there were no bigger defensive stands than the Vikings made in the final 15 minutes Sunday, creating one of the biggest Turning Points of the Game of the Brad Childress era.
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