The Green Bay Packers didn't play well enough to win Sunday's game at the Metrodome, and they got the result they deserved.
That fact didn't make the outcome any less painful.
The Minnesota Vikings thoroughly outplayed the Packers on offense and defense, yet needed Mason Crosby to miss a 52-yard field goal in the final half-minute to escape with a 28-27 victory on Sunday.
The Vikings outgained the Packers by a nearly 2-to-1 ratio (361 yards to 184). They dealt Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers a vicious beating. And they ran roughshod through the Packers' typical porous run defense.
Still, the Packers had a chance to steal victory — two chances, actually — but as was the case in losses to Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Tennessee, they failed to deliver at crunch time. And because of it, they fell to 4-5 and into third place in the NFC North.
In a span of barely 2 minutes in the third quarter, the Packers turned a 21-10 deficit into a stunning 24-21 lead. First, Nick Collins intercepted a horrible pass by Gus Frerotte and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown to bring Green Bay within 21-17. Then, Will Blackmon returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown. Amazingly, despite less than 100 yards of offense, the Packers led 24-21 with 3:09 remaining in the third.
Vikings coach Brad Childress was winless in five matchups with his counterpart, Mike McCarthy, and he rolled the dice midway through the fourth quarter. After Chester Taylor was stuffed on third-and-1 from Minnesota's 41, Childress sent out the punt team, then called a timeout to challenge the spot of the ball.
Handed terrific field position for the first time in the game, the Packers managed a field goal to lead 27-21 with 6 minutes to go.
But the Packers' run defense, which entered the game ranked 27th in the NFL, couldn't keep Peterson under wraps. Receptions of 16 and 8 yards by Peterson put the ball at the Packers' 29, and on second-and-2, the Vikings wiped out Aaron Kampman and Brady Poppinga and turned in Colin Cole. Peterson rumbled through the gaping hole and beat Atari Bigby to the pylon for the go-ahead touchdown.
With 2:22, that was plenty of time for the Packers' offense, assuming it finally could make a play or get a break.
The Packers got both. Blackmon returned the kickoff to the 41. On the first play, Rodgers' pass was deflected by defensive tackle Pat Williams, but Donald Driver made a leaping grab to not only prevent a disastrous interception, but pick up 19 yards to Minnesota's 40.
Two runs by Ryan Grant and a short completion to Driver moved the ball to the 34. But Crosby's field goal missed by an eyelash.
So, in a game both teams needed to win, the more-desperate Vikings improved to 5-4 and into a first-place tie with Chicago, which lost 21-14 to undefeated Tennessee. The Bears visit Green Bay next week.
With a hellacious pass rush, the Vikings bruised and befuddled Rodgers at every turn. While he avoided a costly turnover after an interception and fumble last week at Tennessee, Rodgers never had a chance to get into a groove. He was hit on practically every dropback, and even when he had a little bit of time, he clearly was shaken and out of sync. His two safeties amounted to the difference in the game.
Meanwhile, the Vikings won in spite of Frerotte, who was brutal with three interceptions. Peterson (192 rushing yards, 33 receiving yards, one touchdown) and Chester Taylor (29 rushing yards and 84 receiving yards, including a 47-yard touchdown) carried the load.
Bill Huber is the Lead Analyst for Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.
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