Turning Point: Special Teams Gaffes

The Vikings had several chances to seize momentum – and the lead – but two costly penalties on special teams erased a touchdown and their final hopes at the end of the game.

Momentum is a funny thing. It's something that, once it starts, can steamroll over a team. It's also something that can just as quickly be dashed in a moment. The Vikings had a couple of huge chances to attempt to win Sunday's game, but a pair of special teams mistakes by running back Artose Pinner created the Turning Point of the Game.

Pinner has tried to find his way with the Vikings, contributing where he can as a part-time running back and full-time special teams player. As the Vikings tried to get momentum back on their side in Sunday's loss, a pair of costly mistakes by Pinner killed the chance both times.

The first came on the opening kick of the second half. After spotting the Packers a 10-point lead in the first quarter, the Vikings came back to take a 14-10 lead – only to have Brett Favre seize back momentum with a perfectly thrown 82-yard touchdown in the closing moments of the first half to Donald Driver.

The Vikings needed a spark in the second half and Bethel Johnson appeared to deliver, taking the opening kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown. As the fans and players celebrated, only a few of them noticed the penalty flag lying on the 18-yard line. It was thown because of an illegal block on Pinner that negated the touchdown and kept the Packers in front – a lead they would never relinquish.

With one last-gasp chance to make a comeback and trailing by six points, the Vikings recovered an onside kick. Once again, the crowd and players celebrated – until they saw the penalty flag at the 30-yard line. This time, Pinner was flagged for being offside.

"They grabbed our momentum," head coach Brad Childress said. "We had some momentum there for a while but weren't able to seize on that. Penalties, you can't have them. You can't take points off the board."

While Pinner was far from the only reason the Vikings lost Sunday, his two miscues and, more importantly, the timing of the penalties, helped create the Turning Point of the Game.

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