Turning Point: Improbable Bombs

Shaun Hill

The Vikings found themselves in two big offensive holes, one early and one late. In both instances, the improbable turned possible and put needed points on the board.

There are certain plays that coaches like to refer to as "not in the book" – those plays that have such long odds at success that coordinators rarely even call on them. Two of those plays came back to haunt the Seattle Seahawks in a 23-21 loss Friday that created the Turning Point of the Game.

The first came on the Vikings' second drive of the preseason finale. After dodging a bullet on the game's first drive deep in their own territory, the Seahawks had a 7-0 lead and the Vikings facing third-and-22 from their own 38. Conventional wisdom would say that the Vikings would likely go for an intermediate pass of about 10 yards to get into field goal range. Instead, the Seahawks locked Marcus Robinson one-on-one and Daunte Culpepper delivered a perfect strike – converting the first down with a 35-yard pass to the Seattle 3-yard line. Three plays later, Culpepper scored and, instead of trailing 7-3, the game was tied 7-7.

As disheartening as that play was for the Seahawks, their final defensive mission of the night was pure heartbreak. Following an intentional grounding penalty on Shaun Hill and an incompletion on a third-down drop by Keenan Howry, the Vikings faced a fourth-and-16 from their own 38-yard line. One stop and the game would be over.

Instead, Hill was flushed out of the pocket and launched a bomb on the run that was hauled in by wide receiver Ryan Hoag for a 44-yard gain to the Seattle 18-yard line – converting what should have been a chance for Seattle to drop to a knee and kill the clock into a Vikings first down. Although is was far from a thing of beauty, Paul Edinger's 35-yard field goal locked up the win and sent the Vikings off with a 3-1 preseason record.

At times, one or two plays can make the difference between winning and losing. Seattle had two such plays – one early and one late – that were unforgivable from the defensive standpoint and became the Turning Point of the Game.

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