In a game in which almost no starters were on the field, Thursday's 16-10 loss by the Vikings to the Dallas Cowboys had a chance to swing on several plays. But it was one play that changed the momentum of the game within the first eight minutes of play – a play that was the Turning Point of the Game that affected the 52 minutes of game time that followed.
The play came on the Vikings' first offensive possession of the game. John David Booty, being given every opportunity to beat out veteran Brooks Bollinger for the third quarterback spot, was given the start and told to manage the game against the Dallas J.V. team. Things didn't go anywhere close to what was planned.
The Cowboys had eaten the first six-and-a-half minutes off the game clock with their opening drive, but, once inside the Vikings 10-yard line, the defense had stiffened. Dallas had been forced to settle for a field goal and, after a 12-play drive to open the game, coming away with three points was viewed more as a consolation prize than an outright victory. The Vikings had dodged an early bullet and it was their time to answer. However, the answer wasn't what anyone, especially Booty or head coach Brad Childress, was looking for.
Trying to throw a timing pass, Booty was hit on his non-throwing shoulder in the pocket. Instead of taking a sack or throwing the ball away, Booty attempted to continue the same play. His pass was late, off the mark and intercepted by linebacker Tyson Smith, who had a free lane to the ball and a pass coming directly to him. He made the interception and the Cowboys offense was back on the field after being on the sideline for a scant 46 seconds of game time.
As good teams do, the Cowboys took advantage of the mistake and needed only two plays to cash in for a touchdown. Just eight minutes and one second into the game, the Cowboys led 10-0.
The Vikings spent the rest of the game fighting out of the hole created by Booty's early interception. Twice they cut the deficit to three points, but never did they come all the way back and have a chance to take a lead. The play typified Booty's first pro training camp and preseason. As a team, the Vikings have thrown 134 passes in the preseason and had four of them intercepted – three on 41 passes from Booty and one in 93 passes thrown by the other three Vikings quarterbacks.
While Booty is still expected to make the final roster, his performance was once again uninspired and somewhat choppy. He made some good throws during the game, but it was his first pass that was the most critical, because it caused of the Turning Point of the Game for the Vikings the rest of the way.
Turning Point: First Pass Cut Deepest
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