Ever since there have been coaches spouting cliches and media members writing down their words, they have reiterated a similar mantra – turnovers decide games. You need to take advantage of them and make a team pay for sloppy play. In a game in which the Vikings and Bears combined for more turnovers (10) than in any other NFL game this season, Chicago made much more of the Vikings' miscues than Minnesota did of Bears' mistakes. In one span of less than six minutes, Vikings turnovers and mistakes by Brad Johnson made the difference in the final score and caused an ugly Turning Point of the Game.
With 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Vikings trailed 7-6, despite five Bears turnovers. The Vikings didn't have any points coming off of turnovers despite numerous chances. But when Johnson got in the giving mood, the Bears took advantage.
The Vikings appeared to have momentum firmly on their side. After taking the opening kickoff and driving 69 yards on 11 plays, the Vikings settled for a Ryan Longwell field goal to cut the deficit to 7-6. On the next play, Pat Williams tipped a pass that was intercepted by Ben Leber on the Bears 46-yard line with 9:55 to play in the third. In the next seven minutes, the Vikings would see the game slip away.
With the Vikings looking to seize control of the game, Johnson threw a perfect pass 20 yards downfield to tight end Jeff Dugan. Wide open on a crossing route, Dugan let the ball come to his body, where it hit a pad and popped up into the air. Bears linebacker Lance Briggs picked off the pass and turned what looked to be a gain inside the Bears 25-yard line into a turnover.
The Bears failed to capitalize on the miscue, but it wouldn't be their last chance. On the ensuing Vikings drive, Ciatrick Fason gave the team a boost with a pair of 13-yard runs to get into Bears territory. But, as Johnson tried to complete a third-down slant route, nickel back Ricky Manning stepped in to pick off the pass. With a head of steam, he returned the interception 54 yards for a touchdown … and what looked as though it could be a potential drive to give the Vikings a lead became a 14-6 Bears advantage.
With the fans in a frenzy and the Bears defense smelling blood, they brought a first-down blitz on Johnson on the next Vikings offensive play. With both Briggs and Tank Johnson bearing down on him, Johnson tried to float a pass over the middle to Chester Taylor. Instead, the pass sailed five yards over Taylor and was picked off by Brian Urlacher on the Vikings 33-yard line. Four plays later, on a fourth-and-1, Cedric Benson bounced a run outside, found a gap and rumbled for a 24-yard touchdown and a 21-6 Bears lead.
In a critical game where the Bears had given the Vikings several chances to take advantage of turnovers, they didn't do it. When given the same opportunity, the Bears put up 14 points in the span of 1:29 off the game clock and turned a nail-biter into a blowout – and gave the Vikings a Turning Point of the Game they would just as soon forget.
Turning Point: No Capitalization
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