The Vikings won the toss and deferred, quickly giving up two first downs, but once the Packers were across midfield the defense stiffened and forced a punt.
The Vikings went three-and-out on their first drive, passing three times with two incompletions, but Aaron Rodgers wasn’t throwing incompletions. He started the game going 9-for-9 for 89 yards and got his first touchdown on the Packers’ second drive of the game, a series that featured five straight passing plays – a 19-yarder to Davante Adams, a 15-yarder to Allison and finishing with a 21-yard touchdown to Jordy Nelson to give Green Bay a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
The Vikings responded with a strong drive that featured four plays greater than 10 yards, including two by Adam Thielen and two by Jerick McKinnon as Minnesota moved to the 4-yard line. But from there, two straight incompletions forced Kai Forbath on for a 22-yard field goal.
The Packers weren’t settling for field goals, however. On their ensuing drive, Jordy Nelson got Captain Munnerlyn tripped up to free himself for a 48-yard pass to start the series. On third-and-4 from the 20-yard line, Rodgers hit Davante Adams on a back-shoulder throw for the touchdown and Green Bay had a 14-3 lead to close the opening period.n a back-shoulder throw for the touchdown and Green Bay had a 14-3 lead to close the opening period.
The Vikings were able to move the ball once again, getting a 32-yard pass to Thielen, putting him over 800 yards for the season and making him and Stefon Diggs the first Vikings duo with 800 yards each since Randy Moss and Cris Carter in 2001. Kyle Rudolph put them in the red zone with a 19-yard catch, but a delay of game on Nick Easton not snapping the ball on time put the Vikings in third-and-11 and a 9-yard pass to Diggs wouldn’t cut it. Forbath came on for a 26-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 14-6.
When the Vikings defense held Green Bay to three-and-out, it gave the offense a chance to gain some momentum. However, after a 16-yard completion to Charles Johnson, Easton barely rolled a snap six inches when Bradford was in the shotgun and the Packers recovered the muffed snap.
Rodgers came out slinging and hit Nelson for 33 yards, then one play later capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown toss to Nelson for a 21-6 Green Bay lead.
This time, the Vikings countered with a quick-strike touchdown on their longest play of the season. On the second play of the drive, Bradford got time and hit Thielen deep for a 71-yard touchdown to make it 21-13 and give Thielen 142 yards receiving with more than 7 minutes to play in the second quarter.
The defense stood up for one drive, forcing a Packers punt after back-to-back sacks by Danielle Hunter and Eric Kendricks, but another miscue by the offense killed any momentum. The Vikings got to midfield just inside the 2-minute warning, but T.J. Clemmings was beaten badly to the outside by Clay Matthews, who jumped on Bradford and forced the fumble that the Packers recovered.
Rodgers once again exploited Minnesota’s defense and Geronimo Allison got free for a 32-yard reception to start the drive, then hit Nelson for 14 yards to the 6-yard line. From there, Rodgers finished the drive with a scramble for a touchdown when he broke Everson Griffen’s attempt to contain him. With that, the Packers had a 28-13 lead that they took to halftime.
STATS: Rodgers finished the first half completing 19 of 22 passes for 268 yards, three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. Nelson had seven catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Bradford completed 13 of 20 passes for 231 yards and a touchdown and Thielen had six catches for 142 yards.
The Vikings started the second half with a 9-yard sack of Bradford, a three-and-out series and a 33-yard punt by Jeff Locke.
Minnesota ended the Packers’ first drive with a combined sack by Hunter and Eric Kendricks that saw Rodgers slow to get, but he walked off the field under his own power.
The Vikings got near midfield on their next drive, but a holding call on Clemmings working against Matthews turned third-and-6 into third-and-16 and they couldn’t convert.
The Vikings mustered only a couple more first downs in the third quarter as holding on Clemmings put them in a bad third-down spot, and the special teams was losing field position with shorter punts and leaky coverage. As the quarter came to a close, the Vikings had allowed two third-down conversions and the Packers were in position for a field goal.
Mason Crosby nailed a 48-yard field goal to open the fourth quarter to give Green Bay a 31-13 lead.
Minnesota’s next drive netted minus-1 yard and another bad punt gave the Packers possession at their own 47-yard line. But after a holding call, Rodgers hit Jared Cook for a 30-yard completion on first-and-20. On third-and-2 at the 13-yard line, Rodgers essentially ended the game with a 13-yard touchdown to Richard Rodgers for a 38-13 lead with 9:02 left in the game.
The Vikings used a 13-play drive to move 75 yards downfield for a 3-yard touchdown toss to Stefon Diggs, but it also took 4:42 to get it done, leaving only 4:20 left on the game clock and trailing 38-19.
The Packers went three-and-out and Minnesota tried to add more points to the board after Marcus Sherels returned the punt 20 yards. Thanks to a fourth-down catch of 24 by Thielen, the Vikings converted and got inside the red zone. Still, it would take six more plays before Bradford found Thielen connected for an 8-yard touchdown with 32 seconds remaining. When the two-point conversion run failed, the Vikings were behind 38-25.
Despite recovering the onside kick, there was too little time left, but it officially ended when T.J. Clemmings gave up a sack to Nick Perry on the final play of the game to end any chance at the playoffs.
STATS: Bradford finished the game completing 34 of 50 passes for 382 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions and a 110.6 rating and was sacked four times. Thielen had a career day, becoming one of three receivers in franchise history with more than 200 yards receiving (202) and two touchdowns. He (960) and Diggs (903) are both over 900 yards receiving on the season with either of them having a chance to become the first Vikings receiver with 1,000 yards in a season since Sidney Rice in 2009.
For the Packers, Aaron Rodgers completed 28 of 38 passes for 347 yards, four touchdowns, another rushing touchdown and a 136.6 rating, taking four sacks. Nelson finished with nine catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns.