Turning Point: Gutty Call

The Vikings needed something dramatic to break their road losing streak, and an aggressive call by head coach Mike Tice did it.

There are plays that will define a coach's career — including the one that ends it. Mike Tice has seen a lot of plays go against him late in ball games that have turned wins into losses. He took it upon himself to take the chance of his coaching career and created the turning point of the game in the process.

While Red McCombs has praised Tice for controlling the team during the hard times this year, he hasn't been pleased with the team's inability to finish games, and some of that has to fall on the coaches. The Vikings had already lost two games in overtime this year after their defense was gassed late in the game. Tice wasn't going to allow that to happen.

To the dismay of almost every knowledgeable observer Sunday, when Randy Moss scored a TD with five seconds to play, the obvious choice would be to kick the extra point and send the game to overtime. Tice, who has been outspoken about being aware of the team's franchise-long road losing streak, opted to roll the dice — take an all-or-nothing chance to get the win.

His call was a quarterback draw, a play that had scored the team's first two touchdowns. While Daunte Culpepper fumbled and bumbled the snap, he got his body moving forward before he got full control of the ball and dove behind Matt Birk and David Dixon — bellyflopping in the end zone for the two points and a 32-31 Vikings win.

Had the play failed, Tice would have been vilified for taking an unnecessary chance. The line of thinking would have been that he had no faith in his team to win in overtime and had lost confidence in them. It could have been the defining moment of his coaching career in a bad way.

Instead it was a brilliant move — in hindsight — an incredible gamble that was high-risk, high-reward. In the process, Tice got the road losing streak off his back, gave the Vikings a much-needed win against a playoff team and created the turning point, not only of the game but of Tice's coaching career.

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