Rerun: Late defensive collapse prevents win

The Vikings had a 23-7 lead, but the defense surrendered 16 points in the fourth quarter and allowed a commanding lead to be lost.

In 107 career meetings, the Vikings and Packers have only tied twice, one of them being today's 26-26 overtime tie (the other being a 10-10 tie at Lambeau Field in 1978), but, once again the Vikings had a lead and let it get away in the fourth quarter to create an all-too-familiar turning point of the game.

Starting the fourth quarter deep in Packers territory, the Vikings had a chance to put the game away with a touchdown drive that would have put them up 27-7. However, after a defensive stop by the Packers on two running plays and a short pass to Cordarrelle Patterson, the Vikings settled for a 29-yard field goal from Blair Walsh to take a 23-7 lead and force the Packers to either score three times or score two touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions.

The Vikings had dominated the game after falling behind 7-0 – running off 23 unanswered points, getting the Packers to bench starting quarterback Scott Tolzien and being in complete control of the game for 2½ quarters. But with the Vikings trying to protect the lead, they committed another fourth-quarter collapse that has become something of their trademark this season.

Starting from his own 20-yard line, replacement QB Matt Flynn appeared to be done at midfield, but a critical 35-yard pass interference penalty on backup cornerback Marcus Sherels kept the drive alive. In addition, on what would have been a fourth-down situation later in the same drive, Jared Allen was penalized for hands to the face and gave the Packers another first down.

"They went to their no-huddle hurry-up, but penalties are what really killed us. I think we had a third-and-10 offsides and then a pass interference. We had two penalties that kept drives going," Allen said. "In the fourth quarter, that hurry up got them into a rhythm and we shot ourselves in the foot with some penalties. We fought back, got it to overtime, and obviously ended with a tie." The Packers would close out the drive on the next play – a 3-yard touchdown run by Eddie Lacy – but failed on the two-point conversion, so the Vikings were still up by 10 at 23-13 with 11:42 to play.

With the Packers still needing two scores to keep the game alive, the Vikings were looking for a clock-killing drive and got off to a great start with a pair of Adrian Peterson runs for 22 yards to move the chains. But, from there, the Vikings went three-and-out as Cordarrelle Patterson couldn't pull in a perfectly thrown bomb from Christian Ponder. They had to punt the ball away and took just 3:02 off the game clock.

Green Bay once again carved through the Vikings defense after starting from its own 24-yard line. The Packers picked up three first downs without having to face a third-down situation, and when they finally did face a third down, they stuffed Lacy on a big hit from Audie Cole, but the Packers converted the first down with awful tackling (a recurring theme Sunday) from Minnesota on fourth down. Three plays later, faced with a third-and-goal from the 5-yard line, Jarrett Boykin undercut Xavier Rhodes and pulled in the touchdown pass from Flynn to cut the lead to 23-20.

The good news for the Vikings was that the Packers took 5:10 off the game clock, giving the ball back to the Vikings with 3:30 to play and two timeouts remaining. With one first down, the Vikings could milk the clock down and force Green Bay to burn its remaining timeouts.

But, as has happened so often before with the Vikings' late-game defensive collapses, the offense went three-and-out and looked bad doing it. After the Packers stuffed Peterson for a short gain on first down, Ponder fumbled a snap intended to be handed off to Peterson and had to fall on the ball for a 3-yard loss. On the critical third-and-11, Ponder was sacked by Mike Neal to give the Packers the ball back with 2:27 to play and no timeouts.

Green Bay would get the ball over midfield quickly, but after a pair of incompletions the Vikings had a chance to put the game away with a fourth-down stop. Instead, Flynn completed a 28-yard pass to James Jones to the Vikings 12-yard line. The Vikings kept Green Bay out of the end zone, but the damage had been done. Mason Crosby hit a chip-shot field goal and the game went to overtime.

Green Bay drove the ball the length of the field in overtime, getting to the Vikings 2-yard before settling for a field goal and the game eventually ended in a 26-26 tie.

For a team that was 2-8, a tie is better than another loss, but, for the fourth time this season – joining losses to Chicago, Cleveland and Dallas – the inability to close out a game in which they had the lead with less than one minute to play cost them a win.

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.

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