"It's starting to sound like a broken record" was the way Jared Allen described Sunday's 33-27 loss to the Green Bay Packers. For the fifth time in seven games, the Vikings took a lead to halftime but a big third quarter for the Packers and collapses in several areas gave the Packers a 20-0 edge in the quarter, turning a deficit into a double-digit lead to showcase an impressive turning point of the game.
"We have to find ways to quit shooting ourselves in the foot after halftime," Allen said. "This just sucks. We make mistakes, we give them a short field and good teams will take advantage of that. They're the defending Super Bowl champs and you can't give good teams like that opportunities."
The Vikings had a 17-10 lead with 55 seconds left in the first half and momentum clearly on their side when Ryan Longwell nailed a 52-yard field goal in the final minute. However, Aaron Rodgers was able to complete four straight passes to get the Packers into field goal range and, as time ran out, Mason Crosby nailed a 45-yard field goal to cut the Vikings advantage to 17-13. Things would go quickly and disastrously downhill for the Vikings from there.
Taking the second half kickoff, a blown coverage left wide receiver Greg Jennings wide open and Rodgers hit him in stride, as he waltzed 79 yards for a touchdown that gave the Packers a 20-17 lead just 51 seconds into the second half.
The Vikings offense didn't have an answer, as Christian Ponder and the offense went three-and-out, but, on the ensuing punt, rookie Randall Cobb returned the kick 42 yards all the way down to the Vikings 32-yard line. Rodgers got most of the needed yardage on one play – a 22-yard strike to James Jones and, two plays later, he found tight end Jermichael Finley in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown and, with just 4:31 elapsed in the third quarter, the Packers increased their lead to 27-17.
On the next Vikings possession, Ponder was intercepted by future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson, who undercut the route of Michael Jenkins and brought the pick back to the Vikings 45-yard line. While the Vikings defense would keep Green Bay out of the end zone, a pass interference call on Cedric Griffin at the 5-yard line gave the Packers a chance for a 24-yard Crosby ship shot to make the score 30-17.
Following a 25-yard run by Adrian Peterson that gave the Vikings offense a spark, Woodson intercepted Ponder again – this time setting Green Bay up on the Vikings 35-yard line. The Vikings defense stood strong, but Crosby nailed a 58-yard field goal with room to spare with 18 seconds left in the third quarter to give Green Bay a 33-17 lead.
It took the Vikings 29 minutes to build a 17-10 lead. It took the Packers slightly less than 16 minutes to put 23 unanswered points on the board for an overwhelming turning point of the game. While the fourth-quarter rally by the Vikings fell short, the team isn't looking at the end result as a moral victory.
"Moral victories mean nothing in the NFL," Allen said. "The name of the game is winning. Moral victories are like taking your sister to the prom. What's good for being runner-up? You're just the first loser. We can take positive plays away, but we are in the business of winning. Winning and losing. That's all it is."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Turning point: Third quarter a Vikings mess
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