In a game that was a 27-7 blowout win for the Vikings over San Francisco, there are many moments early that could be viewed as a turning points of the game. But, the game-changing moments got superseded by the non-game-changing moments that made the difference in Sunday's win and proved to be the Anti-Turning Point of the Game. In simpler terms, the 49ers rarely took advantage of the opportunities they were given.
Early in the second quarter, the Vikings had a 17-0 lead and had the game in control. The 49ers offense was struggling. Their defense was getting shredded. The fans were booing the home team. They needed something to give them a spark to try to get back in the game. As it turned out, they got four – but the Vikings turned back all of the opportunities for the 49ers to breathe life into what appeared to be a lifeless carcass.
The first came with 14:14 remaining in the second quarter. Following a field goal by Ryan Longwell to give the Vikings a 17-0 lead, returner Maurice Hicks brought the kick back 55 yards to the Vikings 44-yard line. The defense needed a stop and got it, as quarterback Trent Dilfer had a second-down pass to Darrell Jackson stopped for a 1-yard loss and a third-down pass go incomplete to force and three-and-out and allow the Vikings' special teams to get bailed out by the defense.
After stopping the Vikings offense for the first time in the game and forcing a punt with 8:55 to play in the first half, the Niners had another shot to get back into the game with a sustained drive. Instead, Frank Gore was stripped by Conrad Bolston and E.J. Henderson returned to the fumble to the 49ers 23-yard line. The Vikings offense wouldn't fully capitalize on the break, but a field goal made the score 20-0 and kept the Vikings in control with 7:16 to play in the half.
On the ensuing kick, Hicks returned another kickoff 55 yards to the Vikings 45. Still three scores down, the 49ers had a short field and a golden opportunity to at least put points on the board before halftime. But the Vikings defense pressured Dilfer into three straight incompletions that snuffed the drive before it could get started.
In the final three minutes of the half, the 49ers got one more golden opportunity – this time the result of the offense. Pinned on his own 14-yard line, Tarvaris Jackson completed a pass to Aundrae Allison, who fumbled the ball and Patrick Willis recovered for the 49ers on the Vikings 28-yard line. With another chance to put points up, the Vikings defense stiffened at the 9-yard line. Dilfer, trying to get a first down on a fourth-down scramble was hit by Charles Gordon, knocked down short of the first down and, in the process, knocked out of the game.
With that stop, the game went to halftime with the Vikings leading 27-0. While the big start by both the offense and the defense made the difference in building a big lead, it was four stops by the Vikings defense when San Francisco had a chance to get back into the game that made up the Turning Point of the Game.
Turning Point: Defensive Dominance
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