Several of the Vikings players earlier this week said that the difference between good teams and bad teams can often come down to making plays in the clutch. Those teams that find a way to make them are successful. Those that fail are not. Nowhere is that more evident than in the red zone. Although the final score says the St. Louis Rams got crushed by the Vikings 38-10, it was the Rams' inability in the red zone that resulted in the Turning Point of the Game.
The Rams fell behind 14-0 less than seven minutes into the game after the Vikings drove down the field on their first drive for a touchdown, and on the Rams' first drive Jared Allen scooped up a fumble and rumbled 52 yards for a touchdown. The early, easy scores for the Vikings would change late in the first quarter, as the Rams mounted an impressive drive.
Starting from their own 6-yard line, the Rams rattled off a 13-play drive that included a critical third-down conversion and a fourth-down conversion, All total, the drive took nearly eight minutes off the game clock. But, with the ball on the 2-yard line, running back Steven Jackson had the ball punched out by Pat Williams and Allen recovered on the 4-yard to keep the score 14-0.
After Brett Favre threw an interception four plays later, the Rams were in business on the Vikings 25-yard line and quickly set themselves up with another first-and-goal situation. The Rams tried a little trickery on first down, having quarterback Kyle Boller run a bootleg QB draw that was sniffed out by E.J. Henderson and dropped for a loss. Boller would take two shots in the end zone, but neither had a chance to be completed, forcing St. Louis to settle for a short field goal.
After the Vikings kicked a field goal to increase the lead back to 14 points at 17-3, the Rams gashed the Vikings defense heading toward the 2-minute warning. Boller completed a 25-yard pass to Jackson and, after runs of 10 yards by Jackson and 11 yards by Samkon Gado, the Rams were at the Vikings 9-yard line with a chance to cut into the Vikings lead. Instead, on the next play, Boller completed a pass over the middle to tight end Daniel Fells, who was hit by Chad Greenway and fumbled on the 2-yard line. E.J. Henderson jumped on the loose ball and the Vikings again averted disaster.
For those who missed the game Sunday, seeing that the Vikings led 17-3 at halftime would lead one to believe that it was a blowout. Far from it, it was disastrous miscues in the red zone – three times inside the Vikings 10-yard line and coming away with just three points – that shot St. Louis in the foot and caused the Rams to deliver a self-imposed turning point of the game.
Turning point: Red zone ruination
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