With a game-time temperature on Sunday some 20 degrees below normal and wind chills in the single digits, late November felt more like late January and the action on the field looked the part.
The record will show that this most recent meeting of the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings ended in only the second tie game of the 107 between the two franchises. But the feel of the game was one of ground and pound.
When the clock expired in overtime with the scoreboard showing 26-26, the two teams had combined for 428 rushing yards, the highest total in a Packers game since a 1977 Packers-Bears contest in which Walter Payton rushed for 205 yards.
Fittingly, another of the game's all-time great backs, Adrian Peterson, was a part of this big day. So, too, was rookie Eddie Lacy, who figures to have many NFC North battles with Peterson in the years ahead.
"I love watching him," Lacy said of Peterson after the game. "I actually watched a couple clips of him on YouTube just to see what he does when the box is stacked, just to get an idea of what I should do or what I can add to what I do to be able to have some pretty big runs."
Quite predictably, a matchup of Vikings maligned quarterback Christian Ponder and Packers third-stringer Scott Tolzien (then fourth-stringer Matt Flynn) drew extra defenders near the line of scrimmage almost all day. By Packer Report's count, the Packers saw at least eight defenders in the box on 14 of 28 runs. The Vikings saw it on 31 of 40 runs from their backs and Ponder took advantage with one of his better games of the year (21-of-30, 233 yards passing, 103.9 passer rating).
But as an interesting plot twist, Vikings backup running back Toby Gerhart delivered when the game was on the line. In overtime, after Mason Crosby kicked a 20-yard field goal on the first drive to give the Packers a 26-23 lead, the Vikings went on a 12-play, 63-yard drive (using up 6:36 on the clock) to tie the game on a Blair Walsh 35-yard field goal. Gerhart rushed for 33 yards on the drive to Peterson's 17.
In all, the Vikings ran on eight of the 12 plays on the drive, delivering a punch in the gut to the Packers when a stop would have ended the game.
"I mean, they just drove right down, pretty much ran on us all the way down the field," said cornerback Tramon Williams. "But it happens. There's nothing we can do about it right now. Only thing we can do is try to correct it and move on. Hopefully we can do that on Thursday."
Gerhart finished with 91 yards on eight carries, spelling at times a fatigued Peterson, who entered the game with a sore groin. Still, Peterson carried 32 times for 146 yards and a touchdown, including a key 15-yard run on a third-and-9 on the Vikings' scoring drive in overtime.
Lacy, on the other hand, churned his way to 110 yards on 25 carries. But with the Packers set up for the knockout punch - first-and-goal at the Vikings' 7-yard line in overtime - two Lacy runs in traffic could only get them to the 2 before an incomplete pass by Flynn set up the go-ahead field goal.
Lacy, who went to the locker room later in overtime due to asthma problems, thought he might have misread his running lane on one of those runs.
"I don't know. I'm going to have to go back and look at the tape and see," he said. "I heard one of them I could've possibly scored."
After seeing almost all of his yardage the past two games come after contact (see World's Best Game Preview from today), Lacy at least got some help from his offensive line against the Vikings, with approximately 64 of his 110 coming after contact. His long gain was 17 yards.
"Just having a mindset that knowing whatever happens, we're going to keep doing it," said Lacy of the running game. "The offensive line did a great job, every down, whether it was a positive run or a negative run, the next play they got back in line and they went at the defense which allowed us to be able to run the ball the way we did.
"(The Vikings) were tackling a little high, so that gives the runner the advantage, and I was able to break the tackles."
With Lacy getting a breather in the third quarter, James Starks broke off the game's longest run, a 34-yarder, on his first carry. Lacy played most of the fourth quarter to help the Packers rally from a 16-point deficit. At that point, a Packers defense that forced only one three-and-out and had given up 20 first downs finally rose up to force three straight punts to help the Packers get to overtime.
"I think the rally there in the fourth quarter, I think absolutely there's some good positive stuff to draw from that - that we have some fight in our defense," said Brad Jones, who posted 10 tackles and one of the Packers' six sacks. "But once again, we put ourselves in that situation, and I think we don't need to do that. I think we need to watch the film and figure it out and change that. We don't need to put ourselves in a situation where we have to rally like that."
With 232 rushing yards for the Vikings and 196 for the Packers, the two teams fell short of the 486 the Bears (375) and Packers (101) put up in that 1977 game the Bears won 26-0 at Lambeau Field.
Not helping matters for the Packers' run defense on Sunday was the absence of defensive end Johnny Jolly (groin), who missed his first game of the season. Backup defensive lineman C.J. Wilson left with an injury in the second half and did not return. Linebacker Nick Perry (foot) was also held out for the second straight game (and fifth of the last sixth) and cornerback Sam Shields (hamstring) missed his second straight game.
After rising to third in the league in rush defense after Week 7, the Packers entered Sunday ranked 12th. They will most certainly drop further this week.
"I don't know honestly (what's happened to the run defense)," said linebacker A.J. Hawk, who had 11 tackles. "Almost every play, when you talk explosive gains, there's something to point to but a lot of times you just have to give credit to the running back and the line. They make some plays, too. We understand that. But run defense and running the ball offensively, there's no secret, there's no special situations to draw up. The Vikings - I respect how they do it - they don't try to trick you. They don't try to do anything. They line up and they run the ball downhill and they have one of the best in Adrian and a great line and a great fullback. For us … we cover it a million times, to keep your gap integrity and try to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage, and we obviously didn't do that."
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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org