Vikings rally, edge Packers, 23-20

Edinger's 56-yard field goal as time expires sends Packers to 1-5

MINNEAPOLIS - The Green Bay Packers are not about to pack it in for the rest of the season. Not after blowing a 17-point lead to their rival Minnesota Vikings. Not after losing a couple more starters to injuries. Not after sinking to 1-5.

As bitter as it was for the Packers, who could only watch as Paul Edinger's career-best 56-yard field goal attempt sailed through the uprights as time expired to lift the Minnesota Vikings to a 23-20 come-from-behind win, they are still keeping their chins up.

"At 0-4 you're in a dark place. Now that we're 1-5, we're still in a dark place," said Packers middle linebacker Nick Barnett. "It hurts. If you have a heart of a champion, it hurts. We just got to go back to work and make it happen."

The Packers took sole possession of last place in the woeful NFC North Division. The Packers have lost four games this season by a total of 9 points. Minnesota, which has had to deal with off-the-field distractions over the past two weeks, improved to 2-4 and moved a step closer to first place in the division. It didn't help that the Packers lost wide receiver Robert Ferguson (ankle), running back Ahman Green (quadriceps tendon) and safety Nick Collins (quadriceps) during the game to injuries.

"We came in at halftime and a lot of guys had their heads down," said Vikings safety Darren Sharper, who played the previous eight seasons for the Packers. "They (Green Bay) came in here and handed it to us in the first half in our stadium. So I said, ‘Let's go out there and play with some pride.' And that's basically what we did when we went out there in the second half."

Trailing 17-0 at halftime, the Vikings gradually built the momentum and chipped away against the Packers, taking a 20-17 lead on Daunte Culpepper's 14-yard touchdown pass to running back Mewelde Moore with 3 minutes, 10 seconds remaining.

Ryan Longwell, who missed two field goal attempts earlier in the game, made a 39-yarder with 24 seconds left to tie the game at 20-20, but the momentum and the Metrodome crowd of 64,278 clearly was in Minnesota's favor.

The Vikings' Koren Robinson returned the kickoff 25-yards to the Vikings' 36. With 17 seconds left, Culpepper completed passes of 14 yards to Moore and 12 yards to wide receiver Marcus Robinson with 2 seconds left.

Edinger, whose previous career-best field goal was 53 yards in the season opener against Tampa Bay, drilled the game-winner with plenty of room to spare.

"It's good to kick winning field goals, but the way we were kind of struggling it's good to get off to the right start against Green Bay," Edinger said. "For me, personally, I've been playing against Green Bay for six years now and to beat them with a winning kick feels great."

Minnesota's comeback ruined one of Favre's better games in the Metrodome. The veteran (4-10 in the Metrodome) completed his first 13 passes of the game and finished 28 of 36 for 315 yards and two touchdowns. Favre was down after the game, but like many others in the Packers' locker room, he is refusing to give up.

"We were talking about 2-minute (offense)," said Favre. "We were talking about getting the ball in overtime. Whoever got the ball probably would win it. When he kicked it ... great kick. Great hold by Brad (Johnson)."

After a dismal first half in which he was held to 45 yards passing, Culpepper finished with 280 yards through the air, completing 23 of 31 passes, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Like he has in the past, Culpepper also beat the Packers with his feet, rushing seven times for 41 yards, including an 18-yard scamper.

"I was trying to take one play at a time," Culpepper said. "You don't want to be the guy to waste a paly for the other ten guys out there. That's the way I look at it. Everybody has a job to do and if we execute, everybody executes their individual job, that works real good."

Despite being 1-5 for the first time in his career, Favre says the Packers are not at the point of giving up.

"I don't foresee this team quitting," Favre said. "The Vikings didn't quit. They struggled early, but they fought and didn't quit. Just like in the playoffs last year. Everyone had written those guys off, but they played their hearts out and beat us. I knew they would give us their best today, but we gave them our best, and our best was not good enough. I know there are some things we can correct and do better, but I know that the effort was there. We gave ourselves every opportunity to win. ... If we give it our best, that's all we can do."

Fresh off their bye week, the Packers picked up where they left off two weeks ago when they whipped the New Orleans Saints 52-3 at Lambeau Field.

Favre was red-hot in the first half, and Green Bay's defense dominated the Vikings' bumbling, fumbling offense with a blend of blitzes and above-average pressure from its front four. It all resulted in a 17-0 halftime lead for the Packers, who took control of the game. The normally noisy Vikings fans often booed their disfunctional home team, which is facing discipline after its bye-week "sex cruise" near the Twin Cities hit the news.

Favre completed 16 of 19 passes in the first half for 211 yards, two touchdowns, and a sparkling 148.0 passer rating. His four-yard pass to Antonio Chatman with 4:33 left in the second quarter put Green Bay ahead 14-0. The score came after Culpepper fumbled a snap on fourth-and-inches from Green Bay's 35.

"I thought Daunte played smart in the first half," said Vikings coach Mike Tice. "Unfortunately, I don't know if that was the second time he had been stopped on a quarterback sneak in his entire career. I think the ball was snapped between his legs, quite frankly, but we won't be able to see until we see the film."

After Chatman's touchdown, Koren Robinson returned the kickoff 72 yards to Green Bay's 23, but Moore fumbled on the next play and Green Bay's Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila recovered at the 31.

Favre moved the Packers close enough for Longwell to make a 53-yard field goal with 22 second left in the half for a 17-0 lead. Longwell, who beat the Vikings with two game-winning field goals last year, redeemed himself after missing wide right from 53 yards in the first quarter.

Favre's 22-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Donald Driver with 12:11 left in the first half highlighted a 96-yard drive and gave the Packers a 7-0 lead. The touchdown was set up by Favre's 44-yard pass to Ferguson on third-and-eight. That was followed by Tony Fisher's 14-yard halfback option pass to tight end Bubba Franks to the Vikings' 22.

Driver finished the game with eight catches for 114 yards, his best game of the season. He had six catches for 101 yards in the first half, but with Ferguson out, was the object of double teams in the second half.

Ferguson was forced to leave the game after injuring his left ankle on his 44-yard reception, and was carted off the field. He left the locker room on crutches.

Green was carted off the field midway through the fourth quarter when he aggravated a quadriceps injury that he sustained Oct. 3 at Carolina. Collins left the game in the third quarter with an injury to his quadriceps.

The Packers sacked Culpepper three times in the first quarter and forced the Vikings to punt on their first two possessions. Linebackers Paris Lenon and Brady Poppinga notched their first sacks of the season, and Grady Jackson and Aaron Kampman shared a sack.

Kenny Peterson's sack of Culpepper on third and 2 from the Packers' 9, forced the Vikings to settle for Paul Edinger's 27-yard field goal.

The Vikings closed to 17-10 on Culpepper's 27-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marcus Robinson with 4:48 left in the third quarter. Robinson, who was penalized for offensive pass interferrence on the previous play, beat cornerback Ahmad Carroll on a "go" route to catch a well-thrown pass by Culpepper.

Green Bay moved to Minnesota's 20 on the ensuing possession, but that's where the drive fell apart. On third and 11, Favre fumbled the snap from center Scott Wells, who started his second straight game for Mike Flanagan (hernia). Longwell followed by missing wide left a 42-yard attempt.

"We couldn't run the football effectively throughout the ball game," Sherman said. "That contributed somewhat to our woes. We didn't convert on third down, particular the first one. They moved the well against us. We missed two field goals at different points in the ballgame, which didn't help us much.

"In the first half we executed very well and in the second half they executed very well."


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