Vikings rally to beat Packers, 20-17

Deja vu. Only this time Paul Edinger only had to make a routine field goal to beat the Green Bay Packers for the second time this season. Edinger, who beat the Packers with a career-best 56-yard field goal a month ago in Minneapolis, made a 27-yarder as time expired and the Minnesota Vikings rallied to a 20-17 win over Green Bay on Monday night.

Minnesota won its second straight game at Lambeau Field and did it in the same fashion as on Oct. 23 in a 23-20 victory – with a strong second half. Green Bay (2-8) lost for the fourth time in five tries at home this season while the Vikings won their third straight game to improve to 5-5 and keep within two games of the NFC North Division-leading Chicago Bears.

For the Packers, it was another woulda-coulda-shoulda game. The Packers were not able to stop Minnesota in the second half. The Vikings have outscored the Packers 36-6 in the final two quarters of both games this season. Like the previous six regular season games between the two teams that were decided by five or less points, the Monday Night Football game came down to the final play.

But the Packers are used to that in 2005. Green Bay has lost five games this season by three points or less.

"You have no idea how frustrating and disappointing it is, but at the same time there's no excuse," said Packers coach Mike Sherman. "When you lose you lose. We're measured by wins and losses. It's frustrating, but from a coaches standpoint when you've got a lot of guys in that locker room that care about winning and try to win, and gosh-dang we didn't get it done. I'm disappointed for them, obviously, and disappointed for our fans, but I'd rather be in close games and lose than get blown out. I'll tell you that right now.

"I'd rather have a chance to win than have no chance at all. I don't think anybody can question our toughness, our tenacity, our will to win. We practice but we're certainly not claiming any more victories."

The Vikings used a season-long scoring drive of 88 yards in the third quarter to snap a string of eight quarters without a touchdown from its offense. Minnesota followed with a 62-yard drive for a field goal to take a 17-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Running back Mewelde Moore led the way for the Vikings. Moore ran for 90 of his 122 yards in the second half. Quarterback Brad Johnson, held to 82 yards passing in the first half, finished with 196 yards through the air and wore down the Packers by controlling the clock. Minnesota had the ball for more than 11 minutes in each of the final two quarters.

"We really started running the ball really well," said Johnson, "especially on first down it didn't feel like they could stop us. It really opened up our play action."

Minnesota finished with 160 yards rushing against the Packers, who entered the game ranked 14th in the league against the rush. On the flip-side, Minnesota shut down Samkon Gado and Green Bay's rushing attack. The Packers were held to 21 yards rushing, eight days after Gado rushed for 103 yards against the Atlanta Falcons.

"We talked all week about not giving them anything on the run," said Vikings coach Mike Tice. "I hadn't heard of their running back before last week and I told them at the end of the night that I didn't want to hear about him again. I didn't know what his name was before the game last week and tonight I didn't want anyone talking about him."

Gado finished with seven yards on 10 carries. Tony Fisher, in his first game since breaking a rib on Oct. 30, had 14 yards on four carries.

The Vikings took advantage of three Green Bay penalties, including two in the red zone, during its 88-yard drive that was highlighted by Ciatrick Fason's plunge into the end zone with 46 seconds left in the third quarter to tie the game at 14-14.

Safety Mark Roman's illegal contact penalty on tight end Jermaine Wiggins near the goal line and cornerback Jason Horton's pass interference penalty in the end zone on wide receiver Koren Robinson gave the Vikings the ball at the Packers 1. Johnson passed to Wiggins three times in the drive, including gains of 14 and 17 yards.

Minnesota's drive consumed 8:33 of the third quarter, the longest time of possession the Vikings have had in one drive this season. The Vikings, 14th in the league in offense, have had two drives of more than seven minutes, but they never came away with more than a field goal.

After forcing the Packers to punt after three plays, the Vikings, behind Moore, motored to the Packers' 6. Cullen Jenkins' second deflected pass of the game forced Minnesota to settle for Edinger's 24-yard field goal with 10:13 left in the fourth quarter.

Green Bay dodged a bullet after Favre threw his second interception of the game and NFL-high 17th of the season. Facing a third and two from the 50, Moore burst around the left end for a 26-yard gain, but Vikings center Anthony Herrera was penalized for holding and running back Michael Bennett was dropped for a five-yard loss on third down.

Favre moved the Packers to the Vikings 28 on the ensuing drive, but he threw incomplete three straight times and the Packers settled for Ryan Longwell's 46-yard field goal that tied the game at 17-17 with 3:03 left.

Minnesota moved to the Packers' 41 on Johnson's 8-yard pass to tight end Jermaine Wiggins with less than a minute. Johnson then found wide receiver Koren Robinson wide open along the right sideline for a 36-yard pickup to Green Bay's 7 with 39 seconds left. Robinson slipped past cornerback Jason Horton, who was confused in Green Bay's "cover 1" defense. All the Vikings had to do from that point was take a knee on three straight plays before Edinger kicked the game winning field goal.

"It's devastating," said defensive tackle Grady Jackson. "I feel like we should have beat them, and we just didn't. You can't cry over it. Right now, we just have to find a way and get back on a role again. When we get them down, we have to keep them down and play harder the second half."

Favre hooked up Donald Driver to burn former Packers safety Darren Sharper and the Vikings secondary twice for touchdowns in the first half as Green Bay took a 14-7 lead.

Favre's 53-yard touchdown pass to Driver with 26 seconds remaining in the second quarter came 38 seconds after Vikings cornerback Dovonte Edwards returned an interception 51 yards to tie the game at 7-7.

Driver scored his second touchdown of the half by blowing past cornerback Antoine Winfield on a post pattern and catching Favre's pass over the middle in stride. Driver then used his speed to easily out-run Sharper to the end zone. Sharper played for the previous eight seasons with the Packers and made his first return to Green Bay as a member of the Vikings.

Favre began the game by completing five straight passes over Green Bay's first two drives, including a 15-yard touchdown pass to Driver with 2:16 left in the first quarter. The scrambling veteran found Gado for a 30-yard gain to Minnesota's 30 to ignite the drive. Favre then hooked up with tight end Donald Lee for gains of 8 and 9 yards before firing a bullet pass to Driver along the right sideline ahead of Vikings safety Corey Chavous.

Edwards intercepted a pass thrown by Favre and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown to help the Vikings tie the game at 7-7 with 1:04 left in the first half. It appeared that wide receiver Andrae Thurman made contact with Edwards after the rookie made a diving catch on Favre's pass, but a replay review upheld the ruling on the field, and the crowd of 70,610 loudly voiced its disapproval after watching scoreboard replays.


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