Turning Point: Silencing Cheeseheads

While Green Bay's fans had several key moments to fill the Metrodome in support of their Packers, the Vikings turned the momentum in their favor in most instances.

There was no questioning the importance the crowd was going to have in Sunday's game. With 64,153 people in attendance, there was some question as to which team had the home crowd.

"Every time (the Packers) did anything, you heard a big cheer from the crowd," Michael Bennett told VU. "It was like we were at Lambeau at times, so it was important to keep them out of the game."

Three times, Vikings fans were being drowned out by Packers fans and, almost in the same way a team can be inspired by its own fans, hearing cheers in the Metrodome for the visitor didn't sit well and may have contributed to the turning point of the game.

As the game began, Green Bay fans appeared to outnumber Vikings fans and were certainly louder. As long as the Packers were ahead — or not losing — the Vikings would have to deal with a loud crowd cheering against them. It didn't take long for the Vikings to silence them. After the opening kickoff, Daunte Culpepper completed passes of 20 and 18 yards to Byron Chamberlain and hit Randy Moss with a 24-yard TD in the first three minutes to take an early lead that would balloon to 14-0 five minutes later.

Yet, as the Vikings went to halftime, they led only 14-7 and Green Bay was getting the second-half kick. The Cheeseheads were in full throat, but the Vikings had the answer. After forcing Brett Favre off the field in three plays, the Vikings drove 81 yards and took a 21-7 lead six minutes into the half and again silenced their once-vocal Packers critics.

The third time the Packers fans got into the game was when the Vikings fell into a tie with Green Bay at 21-21. Following a huge touchdown of 84 yards to Donald Driver, Green Bay had fought all the way back. Moe Williams shut the crowd up with a 51-yard kick return that would set up a Gary Anderson field goal. From that point on, the Packers wouldn't gain another first down, and a monster run by Michael Bennett would set up the game's final score.

Vikings players and coaches have always been irritated by the decibel level of Green Bay fans at the Metrodome, but it seemed to inspire the Vikings Sunday. Every time they began to drown out Vikings fans, the team responded — inadvertently providing the turning point of the game.

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