Ultimate Game Review: Vikings at Packers

The plays of the game, the player of the game, a look into the crystal ball and 13 incredible numbers that explain Sunday's 26-26 verdict. It wasn't a good day by the Packers' defense but they made back-to-back critical plays that saved the game.

Packer Report reviews the Green Bay Packers' 26-26 tie against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

PLAYS OF THE GAME

The Vikings ran for 232 yards but there was one key play by Green Bay's defense that saved a potential loss in overtime.

Runs of 12 and 11 yards by Toby Gerhart gave the Vikings a first down at the Packers' 13. After Gerhart was stopped for a gain of 1, Adrian Peterson returned to the lineup. Guard Brandon Fusco pulled to his right to lead Peterson but outside linebacker Mike Neal stuffed Fusco, with Peterson tripping over Fusco's legs and losing 5 yards.

"I know that on that particular play, I have to squeeze everything and keep everything inside," Neal said. "The biggest thing is to let AP get outside. That's where he does most of his damage. So, tried to keep everything inside. It just so happened he tried to bounce it outside and I got enough penetration up the field to make him trip over his own players."

That made it third-and-14. Christian Ponder fired a pass to rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, who was open in the back of the end zone. Cornerback Davon House, however, got under the route and tipped the ball. Patterson couldn't corral it before falling out of bounds. The Vikings settled for the tying field goal, and the teams settled for a tie.

"Literally, tips of my finger. That was all I had," House said. "That was as high as I could job. If Tramon (Williams) was there, he probably would have caught it because he jumps a little higher than me. That was the best I had. I was hoping he was going to throw it a little bit shorter because I slipped it. I started off outside and ran inside, but he threw it high where only his receiver could get it and I tipped it just a little bit. That's all I had."

PLAYER OF THE GAME

The season is alive because coach Mike McCarthy made a change at quarterback just in time. With Scott Tolzien unable to find the big-play magic of last week's loss to the Giants, McCarthy brought in Flynn midway through the third quarter with the Packers trailing 20-7.

Flynn's first drive stalled but, with the season on the brink, he led the Packers to a touchdown, touchdown and field goal on his next three possessions to force overtime. His 34-yard completion to Jarrett Boykin put the Packers in position to win the game, but Flynn couldn't quite write the conclusion of what would have been a remarkable story.

Nonetheless, he finished 21-of-36 for 218 yards and one touchdown, though he was quick to share the credit.

"Everyone just started making plays," Flynn said. "It wasn't just because of me out there. Guys were getting open, guys were making plays, and guys were blocking, running and everything like that. It's one of those things, I think we fed off Eddie (Lacy) a little bit, too. He ran his tail off. I've only been here for two weeks, but seeing him run, it's fun. He gets the guys rolling."

GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL

For the Packers, the playoffs start on Thursday at Detroit.

Given two gifts with Detroit getting upset by Tampa Bay and Chicago getting crushed at St. Louis, the Packers did the day-after-Christmas equivalent of keeping the pants but returning the sweater. So, the Packers are 5-5-1 and still have a pulse in the NFC North. It's better than the alternative, obviously, but Green Bay could have survived this four-game odyssey without Aaron Rodgers in a tie for the division lead.

"Today's contest obviously is a little bit of an empty feeling. You go out there today expecting to win and we got halfway there," McCarthy said.

Said cornerback Tramon Williams: "We're looking for wins around here. We're in the business of winning. We didn't lose. That's about the only thing we can get out of it. We're still in the hunt; we've always felt that way. Our destiny's still ahead of us. We're going to keep pushing and hopefully everything turns around."

If Rodgers isn't cleared because of a broken collarbone, the Packers will be a prohibitive underdog at Detroit. And for good reason. Until the offense can gain the clutch yards and the defense can make the clutch plays, there's little reason to suggest the Packers can win at Detroit after failing to win home games against Philadelphia and Minnesota.

NUMBERS WORTH NOTING

0: Giveaways by Green Bay. The Packers are 30-6 in such games under coach Mike McCarthy.

0: Sacks of Matt Flynn in 36 pass attempts. He was sacked six times (in 32 pass attempts) when he started for Oakland against Washington on Sept. 29.

1: Forced fumble by A.J. Hawk, his first since Oct. 14, 2007, against Washington.

12: Average difference in field position after kickoffs, with Minnesota starting at its 32 and Green Bay at its 20.

18.8: Percent conversion rate by Green Bay's offense on third down. The Packers went 1-of-9 against Chicago, 7-of-16 against Philadelphia and 2-of-8 against the Giants without Rodgers.

25: Carries by Eddie Lacy, his seventh game of at least 22 carries this season. He had zero such games in his career at Alabama.

36: Receptions for Greg Jennings, for 439 yards and two touchdowns, on the season, including two receptions for 29 yards on Sunday. Jarrett Boykin has caught 34 passes for 513 yards and one touchdown this season, including five receptions for 60 yards on Sunday. Jennings signed a five-year deal worth $45 million that included $17.5 million guaranteed during the offseason. Boykin is playing under the minimum salary of $480,000.

81: Yards gained on Scott Tolzien's final five possessions after guiding an 87-yard touchdown drive.

110: Rushing yards by Lacy. Of which, 82 came after contact, according to our count.

146: Rushing yards by Adrian Peterson, increasing his per-game average against the Packers to 117.6. That's the most against Green Bay in franchise history.

196: Rushing yards by the Packers, the team's fifth game of 180-plus yards this season. Their top games were 199 yards against Chicago on Nov. 4, 196 yards on Sunday and 182 yards at Cincinnati on Sept. 22. They lost all three of those games.

494: Despite the third-down ineptitude, the Packers rolled up 494 yards. It's the 2 yards they didn't get on the first drive of overtime that proved costly.

9,876: Career rushing yards by Adrian Peterson in 100 games. That ranks third in NFL history, behind Eric Dickerson (10,818) and Jim Brown (10,403) but ahead of Barry Sanders (9,766).


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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