In a game where your quarterback threw three interceptions, your offense got into enemy territory six times and scored once and your defense gave up 13 plays of 15 yards or more, it's hard to blame one guy. But one player and one play created the turning point of the game.
The Vikings were nothing short of awful in the first half. The Jets had dominated time of possession and the turnover battle, but, with seven minutes left in the second quarter, the Jets still were ahead by only a 3-0 score and the Vikings were one score away from taking back control of the game — much like they did against Detroit.
The team needed a big play on defense and, forcing young quarterback Chad Pennington into a third-and-15 situation from his own 11-yard line, the Vikings seemed poised to make the defensive play that could change their fortunes. They would make the play they needed, but unthinking frustration would cost them dearly.
Cornerback Tyrone Carter, who has been picked on consistently by offensive coordinators, was again the target of a pass pattern. On a pass to Santana Moss, Carter corralled Moss and forced him out of bounds a yard short of the first down. However, Moss wouldn't go down and, more than a couple of yards out of bounds, Carter picked Moss off the ground and slammed him to the turf. It looked as though he realized midstream what he was doing and tried to stop, but the damage was done. The flags flew and he was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul.
Instead of being in a position to get a punt that could have the offense at midfield with a 3-0 deficit and seven minutes to play in the third quarter, the Jets kept possession and went 10 more plays to score a touchdown. That made the score 10-0, forced the Vikings to almost completely abandon the run and made the offense one-dimensional in trying to overcome a two-score deficit.
It's difficult to lay blame on one play that made the difference in winning and losing, but it had such implications that a simple act of frustration made the difference in the remainder of the game and created the turning point of the game.
Turning Point: Penalty Alters Game
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