When a team scores five times in a game, they are expected to win. When a team scores five times, they expect to see a point total in the range of 31 or 23, not 15. But that is what the Vikings did Sunday in an 18-15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. It wasn't as if they didn't have their chances, but it was their failures that created the Turning Point of the Game.
"We were moving the ball well for most of the game," tight end Jim Kleinsasser said. "But when you get in the red zone, you have to score.
Score touchdowns. We couldn't do that. We settled for three points every time. At some point, you have to punch it in for a touchdown."
Clearly, the Vikings didn't do that. In the first quarter, it looked as though the Vikings could take immediate control of the game. A 29-yard run by Adrian Peterson on the first drive put the Vikings in business on the Indianapolis 28-yard line. But a pair of incompletions by Tarvaris Jackson – one of which was a drop by Bernard Berrian, who didn't have a reception Sunday – forced the Vikings to kick a 45-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Jackson was again asked to convert a third-down pass – this time from the Colts 10-yard line. He did his job properly, rolling to his left on a play in which he had a receiver short and Visanthe Shiancoe in the end zone. He opted to throw to Shiancoe and put a pass where only he could catch it. But Shiancoe got a case of Williamsonitis and dropped the ball, forcing the Vikings to settle for another Longwell field goal and a 6-0 lead.
Ahead 9-0 on the opening drive of the second half, Jackson was faced with a third-and-11 from the Colts 26. Apparently concerned about not making the mistake that would potentially cause a turnover, Jackson threw a weak screen pass to Chester Taylor that was brought down for a 2-yard loss, again making the Vikings have to fall back on a field goal by Longwell to take a 12-0 lead.
The last chance came from the red zone in the final five minutes of the third quarter. Faced with a second-and-9, Jackson again off-loaded a screen pass to Naufahu Tahi that was brought down for a two-yard loss. His third-down pass was batted at the line and nearly intercepted.
In a game where the Colts looked to be a dynasty team on the ropes, the Vikings never delivered the knockout punch. The team was a pitiful
2 of 13 trying to convert third downs and the result was that, given enough chances and a deficit not too huge to overcome, Peyton Manning was able to do what the Vikings couldn't – complete big passes when the outcome hung in the balance. The Vikings failed at that throughout the game and, by their own offensive ineptitude in the clutch, gave the Colts their Turning Point of the Game.
Turning Point: Passing game goes missing
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