For much of the season, the Vikings offense has spit and sputtered to the point that its point production was barely ahead of the number of points produced by the defense and special teams. But, with the Vikings needing an offensive lift, a pair of consecutive drives to close the first half and open the second half proved to be the Turning Point of the Game.
"We've needed to give the team a lift on offense," center Matt Birk said. "It's been frustrating for all of us. Being able to string together drives has been something we haven't done a lot this year. We knew that with the kind of offense they had that we needed to put up some points. Fortunately, we were able to get that done today.
It didn't come easy. Trailing 13-7 late in the first half, the Vikings started a drive on their own 20-yard line with 3:48 to play. Brad Johnson came out throwing, completing passes of 15 yards to Chester Taylor and five each to Travis Taylor and Chester Taylor to keep the chains moving as the clocked ticked down to the final minute of the half. With the ball at the Arizona 39-yard line with 45 seconds to play, Brad Childress opted not to play it safe. Instead, he went for a first down on a fourth-and-7 and was rewarded with a 22-yard reception to Jermaine Wiggins to the Cardinals 17-yard line. One play later, Johnson found Marcus Robinson for a 17-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 14-13 lead at halftime despite being outplayed for much of the first half.
"First half, we had some great drives, two 10-play drives and two nine-play drives," Johnson said. "The most critical drive of the day I thought was right there in the end of the half, scoring and putting us up 14-13."
With the ball to start the second half, the Vikings again began at their own 20 and again Johnson came out throwing. He completed passes of 11 yards to Travis Taylor, 22 yards to Robinson and 12 yards to Robinson to get the ball inside the Arizona 25-yard line. Faced with a third down from the 9-yard line that has so often resulted in the team settling for a field goal, Johnson hit Billy McMullen with a slant pass for a touchdown.
In the span of eight minutes on the game clock, the Arizona offense was on the field for just 30 seconds and never had a chance to get a drive started. But the next time they took the field, instead of having the 13-7 lead they hoped to bring into halftime, they now trailed 21-13 and had a sense of desperation. For a Vikings offense that had been a liability much of the season, those two touchdown drives provided the spark the team needed and made the difference in winning and losing. And, along the way, provided what would turn out to be the Turning Point of the Game.
Turning Point: Offense Finds Its Groove
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