Turning Point: Failed Defensive Stands

Willie Shaw's defense had numerous opportunities to shut the door on the Giants, but a porous pass defense and penalties kept them from doing that when they needed it most.

It's easy to point fingers at the Vikings defense. But Sunday's loss to the Giants wasn't just mistakes on special teams or ineffectiveness on offense. It was the inability of the Vikings to make the stops when they needed them to win — creating the turning point of the game.

The problems weren't isolated. It began with the first drive. The Vikings forced the Giants off the field in the first two minutes of the game and the crowd was pumped up. On the Giants punt, Patrick Chukwurah was called for holding before the kick got off and the drive remained alive. While the Giants didn't score, it was a missed opportunity — and more would follow.

* Second quarter, 12:36 to play. The Vikings have just scored their first points of the game to cut the deficit to 7-3. The crowd is into the game for the first time and a defensive stand could turn momentum quickly. The Giants roll 72 yards in only seven plays — capped by a 30-yard run by Ron Dayne to take a 13-3 lead.

* Third quarter, 3:27 to play. The Vikings trail 13-6 and the defensive players know that Daunte Culpepper is going to be pulled from the game. Todd Bouman may be able to provide the spark the team needs — if the defense can make a stop. With the Giants pinned on the 9-yard line, the defense allows consecutive plays of 16 yards to Tiki Barber, 27 yards to TE Dan Campbell and 33 yards to Ron Dixon. The Giants will eventually score on an 11-yard TD pass to Amani Toomer and the deficit is now 19-6.

* Fourth quarter, 8:36 to play. The Vikings have completely shaken the momentum. Bouman and Randy Moss have connected on a pair of bombs and Michael Bennett has run for a 78-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 20-19 lead. One stop and the Metrodome will be a madhouse. Instead, a critical third-down pass interference call allows the New York drive to stay alive, and the Giants drive 80 yards in six minutes to score the game-winning touchdown.

There were several opportunities for the Vikings to seize control of Sunday's game. Every time they needed a big stop, they never got it, and those failures became the turning points of the game.

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