When playing on the road for a preseason opener, the pressure is on the first-unit offense and defense. In Friday's 13-3 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the preseason opener, the Vikings' starters knew they would only play one quarter – for better or worse. Their near-perfection on both sides of the ball gave the team a quick double-digit lead and created a crowd-silencing turning point of the game.
The Vikings got the opening kickoff and mixed the run and the pass effectively to march down the field. Starting from their own 28-yard line, Sage Rosenfels completed a pass of 15 yards to Visanthe Shiancoe to get the chains moving. With the team across midfield, the opening drive could have ended with on fourth down with a foot to go. Perhaps in a regular-season game, the Vikings may have punted rather than risk giving up the ball at midfield, but in the first drive of the first preseason game, there would be none of that. Adrian Peterson took a carry up the middle for 5 yards and a first down.
Three plays later, the Vikings were faced with a similar dilemma. With a fourth-and-2 from the 35-yard line, the Vikings were looking at a 53-yard field goal that, if missed, would give the Colts the ball on the 43. Instead, they went for the first down and Rosenfels delivered a 17-yard pass to Shiancoe to move the stick again. Once in the red zone, the running game took over. Peterson took a carry up the middle for 13 yards and Chester Taylor finished off the drive with a run to the left pylon, giving the Vikings a 7-0 lead and capping an 11-play, 72-yard drive that ate six minutes, 18 seconds.
With the offense clicking on all cylinders, it was the defense's turn. It was likely they were only going to face Peyton Manning for one series. Starting from his own 22-yard line, Manning dropped to pass on the first play from scrimmage and was sacked for a 9-yard loss by Ray Edwards. While Manning would convert the first down, the Vikings defense wasn't ready to let up. On the next two plays, Manning was sacked by E.J. Henderson and Jared Allen and pushed back to the 22-yard line – back where the drive had started. The Colts had to punt and Manning's night was over having gained no yards.
With the ball back, the Vikings offense milked the final 5:28 off the clock in the first quarter. Taylor had runs of 15, 5 and 7 yards, and Rosenfels completed passes of 7 and 15 yards to Shiancoe, 6 yards to Sidney Rice, 7 yards to Jaymar Johnson and 15 yards to Taylor. When all was said and done, the Vikings scored on a Ryan Longwell field goal on a 12-play drive that gave the Vikings a 10-0 lead with 14:52 to play in the half.
With almost all of the starters done for the night, the mighty Manning had been held to nothing and both the Vikings offense and defense would have trouble finding fault with their play, creating a dominating early turning point.
Turning Point: A dominating start
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