Turning Point: ‘Atomic' plays

The Vikings surrendered a trio of ‘atomic plays' on Monday night. What are atomic plays? Actually, it's just a term we're placing on plays that were far more lengthy than the standard ‘explosive plays,' and they blasted the Vikings in the opener.

From the time head coach Brad Childress came to the Vikings, one of his standard post-game mantras has been discussing the critical nature of "explosive plays." Explosive players are defined differently by different teams, but in general they cover 20 or more yards and, in most instances, the team that has the most explosive plays is the team that wins. There may not be a word for plays of more than 50 yards, but if there is, they could be called "atomic plays." The Packers had three of them and they had the affect of being an atomic bomb against the Vikings, as a trio of big plays created the Turning Point of the Game.

For much of the first quarter, there was little in the way of either QB Aaron Rodgers or Tarvaris Jackson taking too many chances. Both teams tried to establish the run and the passes that were thrown were of the short variety. That was until the first explosive play of the game. Less than two minutes into the second quarter, the Vikings led 3-0. A short kickoff by Ryan Longwell that came down on the 14-yard line was returned to the 38 – a spot where many teams don't feel hesitant to take a shot deep in hopes of catching a defense looking for the run. Complicating matters for the Vikings and making the decision easier for the Packers was that Cedric Griffin had been injured on the kickoff and Charles Gordon was lined up on the right side of the defense with rookie Tyrell Johnson over the top. The Packers took a chance and faked a run and had Rodgers roll to his right out of the pocket. He launched a bomb down the center of the field and, with Johnson getting turned around after biting on the play fake, Jennings was one-on-one with Gordon. He won the battle for the ball and came down with it to give the Packers the ball on the 6-yard line. They would score on a 1-yard pass from Rodgers to take a 7-3 lead.

With the score 10-6 Packers with less than seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Vikings tried to pin a punt near the sideline. Return man Will Blackmon fielded a Chris Kluwe punt within a few feet of the sidelines and appeared to simply attempt to gain as many yards as possible before going out of bounds. It appeared as though some of the Vikings defenders let up when it became apparent Blackmon would step out, but he made a couple of cuts and returned toward the middle of the field. Once at full speed, he picked up a couple of blocks, ran all the way to the far sideline and was off to the races for a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown. Instead of having a nail-biter, the Vikings now trailed the Packers 17-6.

Flash forward to the fourth quarter. The Vikings cut the Packers lead to 17-12 and, with seven minutes remaining, needed a big stop. The run defense had done an excellent job of bottling up RB Ryan Grant, who had just 35 yards on 11 carries at that point. But, with one more atomic play, the Packers effectively put the game out of reach. Grant took a handoff over the right side and raced untouched into the secondary, where he rumbled 57 yards before being brought down on the 2-yard line. Rodgers would score on his second QB sneak in as many plays and the Packers lead was 24-12.

The Vikings did many things well during Monday's game, but it was a trio of atomic plays that gutted the team's list of successes during the game. The Vikings may have won more of the battles, but the big bombs dropped by the Packers resulted in the Turning Point of the Game.



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","mobileBody":" From the time head coach Brad Childress came to the Vikings, one of his standard post-game mantras has been discussing the critical nature of \"explosive plays.\" Explosive players are defined differently by different teams, but in general they cover 20 or more yards and, in most instances, the team that has the most explosive plays is the team that wins. There may not be a word for plays of more than 50 yards, but if there is, they could be called \"atomic plays.\" The Packers had three of them and they had the affect of being an atomic bomb against the Vikings, as a trio of big plays created the Turning Point of the Game.

For much of the first quarter, there was little in the way of either QB Aaron Rodgers or Tarvaris Jackson taking too many chances. Both teams tried to establish the run and the passes that were thrown were of the short variety. That was until the first explosive play of the game. Less than two minutes into the second quarter, the Vikings led 3-0. A short kickoff by Ryan Longwell that came down on the 14-yard line was returned to the 38 – a spot where many teams don't feel hesitant to take a shot deep in hopes of catching a defense looking for the run. Complicating matters for the Vikings and making the decision easier for the Packers was that Cedric Griffin had been injured on the kickoff and Charles Gordon was lined up on the right side of the defense with rookie Tyrell Johnson over the top. The Packers took a chance and faked a run and had Rodgers roll to his right out of the pocket. He launched a bomb down the center of the field and, with Johnson getting turned around after biting on the play fake, Jennings was one-on-one with Gordon. He won the battle for the ball and came down with it to give the Packers the ball on the 6-yard line. They would score on a 1-yard pass from Rodgers to take a 7-3 lead.

With the score 10-6 Packers with less than seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Vikings tried to pin a punt near the sideline. Return man Will Blackmon fielded a Chris Kluwe punt within a few feet of the sidelines and appeared to simply attempt to gain as many yards as possible before going out of bounds. It appeared as though some of the Vikings defenders let up when it became apparent Blackmon would step out, but he made a couple of cuts and returned toward the middle of the field. Once at full speed, he picked up a couple of blocks, ran all the way to the far sideline and was off to the races for a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown. Instead of having a nail-biter, the Vikings now trailed the Packers 17-6.

Flash forward to the fourth quarter. The Vikings cut the Packers lead to 17-12 and, with seven minutes remaining, needed a big stop. The run defense had done an excellent job of bottling up RB Ryan Grant, who had just 35 yards on 11 carries at that point. But, with one more atomic play, the Packers effectively put the game out of reach. Grant took a handoff over the right side and raced untouched into the secondary, where he rumbled 57 yards before being brought down on the 2-yard line. Rodgers would score on his second QB sneak in as many plays and the Packers lead was 24-12.

The Vikings did many things well during Monday's game, but it was a trio of atomic plays that gutted the team's list of successes during the game. The Vikings may have won more of the battles, but the big bombs dropped by the Packers resulted in the Turning Point of the Game.


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