Turning Point: Defense Stiffens

The Vikings defense eventually broke, but for the most part it shut down the Rams' attack once it crossed midfield to keep the Vikings in the game.

While the Vikings came out on the short end of a 13-10 loss to the Rams Friday night, their defense came up big at crucial times, keeping the Rams offense out of the end zone for all but one drive, despite having their end of the field penetrated early and often, creating a Turning Point of the Game in a contest in which players were constantly shuffling in and out.

While the Rams won the game, the Vikings defense did its part most of the day, bending but never yielding much in the way of big plays.

In all, the Rams got into Vikings territory seven times, but came away with points on just three of those drives. It began with their first drive, which got to midfield before stalling. On their second drive, the Rams got to the Vikings 39-yard line before Dwight Smith came up with a big interception to kill the drive and keep the game scoreless.

After allowing a touchdown in the final minutes of the first half, the Vikings defense again set the tone. With the ball on the Vikings 41-yard line, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick went for a Hail Mary to the end zone as time expired, but linebacker Dontarrious Thomas followed the play downfield and made an interception in the end zone to kill the scoring chance.

Thomas would come up big on the first drive of the second half as well. The Rams took the opening kickoff and brought the ball to the Vikings 27-yard line. On the 10th play of the drive and already in scoring position, Fitzpatrick was nailed by linebacker Heath Farwell and his pass floated to Thomas, who intercepted the pass on the 18-yard line and returned the interception 82 yards for the Vikings' only touchdown.

The Rams ventured into the Vikings red zone again as the game rolled over into the fourth quarter, but once again the Vikings defense would stiffen near the goal line and force the Rams to settle for a 39-yard field goal.

While the third-stringers did allow the Rams to get into scoring position in the final seconds as time ran out for the 13-10 loss, it was a night that, for the most part, the Vikings defense played solid and refused to allow the Rams to finish off drives with seven points. Of their seven drives that got into Vikings territory, they came away empty on four of them and, even in defeat, the Vikings defense helped create the Turning Point of the Game.

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