Turning Point: Defensive Stand Proves Point

The Vikings were holding to a precarious 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter when – who else – their run defenders put together a goal-line stand that extinguished the Lions' last realistic remaining hope.

There are times in a season when a defining moment emerges that ignites a playoff run. The Vikings may have had that moment in the closing minutes of their 30-20 win over the Detroit Lions Sunday.

After opening a 20-0 lead early in the game, the Vikings looked on the brink of potentially squandering the huge lead. With 10:48 to play, the Lions scored a touchdown on a swing pass to running back Kevin Jones to cut the Vikings' lead to 30-20. After a three-and-out by the Vikings offense, the Lions came out passing and looked have momentum clearly on their side.

Quarterback Jon Kitna was lighting up the Vikings' prevent defense, completing three consecutive passes of 19 yards to Jones, Roy Williams and Dan Campbell to get in the red zone. Kitna then completed a first-down pass to Corey Bradford to the 1-yard line with 5:43 to play in the game.

At a minimum, it looked as though the Lions would cut the deficit to one score – whether seven points or three – unless the Vikings defense could make a stand. With their backs pressed against the goal line, their most probable hope was to delay the inevitable – forcing the Lions to use time to get their points and helping their offense have less time to kill off if and when Detroit scored. On second down, the Lions tried to punch the ball in from the 1-yard line with Jones. But he was drilled in the hole by Kenechi Udeze, and Darrion Scott pulled him backward to prevent him from getting in the end zone.

Tick, tick, tick.

With Jones helped off the field, backup Arlen Harris came in and, while many believed the Lions would try a pass play, they attempted another run up the middle, where E.J. Henderson met Harris in the hole and dropped him for a minor loss.

Tick, tick, tick.

Faced with a fourth down from just inside the 2-yard line, the Lions were faced with a dilemma. They need two scores and the clock was rolling. If they attempt to go for a touchdown and fail, they're still two scores down. If they attempt a field goal, their defense will have to stop the Vikings, get the ball back and have their offense travel the length of the field.

Tick, tick, tick.

Due to some confusion, the play clock had to be reset to 25 seconds, but the game clock continued to roll. After taking the snap on the third-down play with 4:45 to go, by the time they snapped the ball on fourth down, just 3:46 remained. This time, Kitna attempted to throw for the score, but a blitzing Dwight Smith got hold of him and brought him down for a 3-yard sack, killing the drive and allowing the Vikings to run the clock down to the two-minute warning.

You can bet in Detroit they will be second-guessing the Lions coaches, but in Vikings Country there was no debate – go after the Vikings run defense at your own risk. The Lions killed almost two minutes off the game clock from the Vikings 1-yard line and came away empty – killing any chance of winning and giving the Vikings defense the Turning Point of the Game.

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