Turning Point: Early Interceptions

The Vikings were hoping for an explosive performance from rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, but when he threw a touchdown pass to the wrong team on the first drive, it put the Vikings in an early hole, one that got deeper throughout the first three quarters.

There are times when a game turns in the final minute of a contest, where a big catch or costly turnover changes the course. In Sunday's 41-21 loss, it came early … very early.

On just the third play of the game, rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson attempted a sideline pass to Billy McMullen. Rams nickel back Ron Bartell jumped the route and returned the interception 38 yards for a touchdown, putting Vikings fans that braved the weather and were ready to cheer on their team into stunned silence.

Bartell credited former Viking Corey Chavous and his copious film study as a reason why he was able to sniff out what play was coming and jump the route.

"(It was) the easiest touchdown I've ever had," Bartell said. "It felt nice to get my first touchdown in the NFL. I think (that play) counts as a lot of film study with Corey and me. Corey has been like a big brother and a big influence on me."

Bartell would strike again in the second quarter, picking off a dying quail of a pass from Jackson and setting up another Rams score that gave the team a 17-7 lead that would put the Vikings in a hole that would just get deeper as the game went on.

In both instances, Jackson tried to force a pass into an area where it was dangerous for his receiver and teammates. In both instances, Bartell got to the ball and, in both instances, the Rams got a touchdown as a result.

"You have to know what plays you can make and what plays you can't make," head coach Brad Childress said. "It's OK to punt the football. It's hard to give them the ball (with just) half the field (to work with)."

While Childress wasn't pleased with the plays, they're understandable for a quarterback many in the organization believe will be the future – perhaps as early as 2007. But those same qualities that got the Vikings to take Jackson were the ones that burned him Sunday – his ability to get out of trouble and throw passes into coverage. On Sunday, they didn't work out as planned and, along the way, created the Turning Point of the Game.

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