One play can sometimes make or break a game that is played over three hours of real time and 60 minutes of clock time. But in the Vikings' 24-14 loss to the Cowboys, one play so changed the momentum of the game that one single snap of the ball created the Turning Point of the Game.
That snap came with three minutes remaining in the third quarter with the game tied 14-14. Despite having a huge edge in total yards and time of possession, until the Cowboys scored with 6:55 to play in the third quarter, the Vikings had the lead 14-7. Having pinned the Vikings deep in their own territory, the Cowboys had a short field to work with on their scoring drive and needed just four plays to cover the required 36 yards to tie the game. The Vikings offense needed an answer. Not necessarily a touchdown, but something to at least show the offense could hang with the Cowboys.
After a touchdown drive on their first possession, the next four Vikings possessions ended in three-and-outs and, facing a third-and-8 from their own 26, it looked like another one was coming. However, Jackson completed a 16-yard pass to Bobby Wade to move the chains. That was followed up by runs of 12 yards by Jackson on a scramble and a 15-yard sweep by Adrian Peterson to get the ball to the Dallas 31 and into scoring position.
The drive stalled, but the Vikings still appeared ready to come away with points and re-take the lead at 17-14. The kicking team came out and had only 10 men – Ryan Cook was late coming out onto the field and the Vikings had to call a timeout. Whether the additional time would have changed the play or not isn't known, but on the snap after the timeout, Dallas defensive end Chris Canty – a 6-7 behemoth with long arms – blew over the top of center Cullen Loeffler, knocking him flat on his back. Canty tripped over Loeffler, but got his arms out within a few feet of where Ryan Longwell made contact with the ball. Canty stuffed the ball like a basketball player into the turf and cornerback Patrick Watkins caught it on its long journey down. With a couple of blockers in front of him and offensive linemen and tight ends chasing him, Watkins raced 68 yards untouched for a Cowboys touchdown.
What, for all intents looked to be a field goal well within Longwell's range and skill level became a 10-point swing. Instead of a 17-14 lead and a chance for the Vikings defense to make a stand heading into the fourth quarter, the Cowboys had a 21-14 lead from which the Vikings wouldn't have an answer. The tide of the game swept over Texas Stadium with that play and the momentum swung as heavily for the home team as it possibly could have. In the span of 15 seconds on the game clock, the Cowboys created the Turning Point of the Game.
Turning Point: One Snap, 10-Point Swing
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