There are segments in games that can suck the life out of a team and a crowd, and in the Minnesota Vikings’ 30-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers, there were two series that forever changed the complexion of the game and turned what was a close game to that point into a blowout.
The Vikings trailed 9-6 with two minutes to play in the first half and the Packers seemed ready to give up the ball after a sack by Everson Griffen had the Packers facing a third-and-15. The Vikings called a timeout to preserve clock time expecting to get the ball back before halftime. Instead, a 50-yard pass interference penalty on Terence Newman kept the drive alive and another penalty – this time an illegal contact call on Anthony Barr – again turned a third down failure by the Packers offense into a first down.
“That drive at the end of the first half really hurt us,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. “We got a couple of critical penalties that kept that drive alive. If we get a stop, we could have put some points on the board before halftime and it could have been a completely different game.”
For his part, Barr was shocked when he was whistled for his foul because he was convinced he hadn’t done anything outside the rules in his coverage assignment. Celebration quickly turned to disdain when he saw the penalty flag land at his feet.
“I was surprised when I saw the flag, because I thought my coverage was good and I didn’t have any illegal contact,” Barr said. “It was a play that gave them the chance to keep going and a guy like Rodgers takes advantage of situations like that.”
With the two penalties converting third downs into first downs, the Packers were able to score a touchdown with six seconds left in the first half to turn a 9-6 lead into a 16-6 lead. What made matters worse, the Packers were getting the kickoff to start the second half and took full advantage.
Starting from his own 15-yard line, Packers running Eddie Lacy took over. In the opening drive of the half, Lacy rushed five times for 27 yards – three of those carries converting first downs. The drive would end with a Mason Crosby field goal.
From the two-minute warning of the first half to the first five minutes of the second half, the Vikings had the ball for just six seconds, while Green Bay was able to bloat a 9-6 lead into a 19-6 lead and seize control of the game.
The Vikings never seriously challenged Green Bay’s advantage from there and lost to the Packers one again, giving Minnesota a record of 1-10-1 against the Packers since 2010.
It was a depressing day for Vikings fans all the way around, but it was the seven minutes in the middle of the game that defined it and left the Vikings shaking their heads at the opportunity that was squandered.
“They played physical and took it to us,” defensive end Brian Robison said. “They’re a good team and they took advantage of their opportunities a lot better than we did. We came in ready, but it just didn’t show on the field. We didn’t get off the field when we had the chance and a team like Green Bay will take advantage of that.”
GAME DAY NOTES
- Adrian Peterson went over 1,000 yards rushing for the seventh time in his career in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, he fumbled on the play and turned the ball over to Green Bay.
- Peterson’s 10-yard run (and fumble) was his last carry of the game and pushed him past quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for the team lead in rushing. Bridgewater had a career-high 43 yards on four scrambles.
- Peterson needs just 41 yards next week to pass O.J. Simpson into 20th place on the all-time NFL rushing list.
- Kyle Rudolph scored his team-high fourth TD of the season on a 47-yard touchdown pass, the longest reception of his career. His longest reception prior to that this season was 19 yards.
- Rudolph’s six catches for 106 yards marked the first 100-yard receiving game of his career.
- Bridgewater had a strong passing day despite taking a beating from the Packers defense for much of it. He completed 25 of 37 passes for 236 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 100.7. But he was also sacked six times, ran for survival on four occasions and had a handful of throwaway passes to avoid more sacks.
- Rodgers had a worse statistical day, completing just 16 of 34 passes for 212 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 86.9.
- The Vikings were the least penalized team in the league coming into the game, but were called for six penalties for 85 yards in the first half. Green Bay was called for no penalties in the first half. Green Bay didn’t have a penalty called on them until 10:25 remained in the third quarter.
- The Vikings finished the game with eight penalties for 110 yards, while the Packers had just four for 19 yards.
- The Vikings never got in the red zone Sunday.
- Green Bay scored on five of its first six possessions, but the Vikings defense held them to four field goals.
- The Vikings kept their streak intact of not allowing more than two touchdowns in any game, but with five field goals, the Packers were able to put up 30 points, the first time this season the Vikings gave up more than 23 points.
- The Vikings outgained the Packers 113-56 in the first quarter. Bridgewater completed five of six passes for 72 yards and a touchdown, posting a passer rating of 156.2. Rodgers completed four of eight passes for 37 yards and a passer rating of 63.0.
- The Vikings had to feel pretty good about leaving the first quarter with the game tied 6-6. Coming into the game, the Packers had outscored their opponents 76-19 in the first quarter.
- The Packers lost return man Micah Hyde with a hip injury in the first quarter. He was replaced by wide receiver Jeff Janis, whose first return went for 70 yards, setting the Packers up on the Minnesota 34-yard line. The defense stiffened, but it was close enough for the Packers to kick a field goal to tie the game 6-6.
- The first quarter was dominated by long drives. The Vikings took the opening kickoff and drove into Packers territory with an eight-play drive. Green Bay responded with a 13-play series that ate 5:35 off the clock and culminated with a 42-yard field goal by Mason Crosby to give the Packers a 3-0 lead.
- Harrison Smith played in his 50th career game Sunday.
- Sunday was the 110th meeting between the two teams. The Packers lead the all-time series with a record of 59-49-2 overall and 28-26 in Minnesota.
- Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sounded the Gjallarhorn prior to the start of the game.
- The paid attendance was 52,529.