The headlines screamed "Favre 2-9 In The Metrodome" all week, but by the time Favre's team walked away with a 30-27 win over Minnesota he was the one reversing his usual dome stats.
With the complement of a strong rushing game (or just plain poor contain and tackling by the Vikings), Brett Favre found the play-action to his liking and threw three touchdowns and only interception. The Vikings didn't turn the ball over, but they did struggle to find consistency on offense for much of the game.
Daunte Culpepper was efficient but unspectacular, passing for 202 yards and two touchdowns, and the combination of Moe Williams and Michael Bennett led a rushing attack that produced 125 yards. But with Bryant McKinnie out with a sprained ankle in the second quarter, the Vikings' pass protection didn't allow Culpepper enough time for explosive plays.
But the real story of the game was a defense that yielded 451 yards of total offense to the Packers, including 261 rushing yards behind Ahman Green's 137 yards.
The Vikings defense started out bending like rubber, but they were nearly as hard to break with their back to the goal line — at least on the Packers' first drive. Ahman Green started with an impressive drive, taking the first carry for 18 yards and, three plays later, finding a seam for a 27-yard run. After a 12-yard pass to tight end David Martin, the Packers were knocking at the end zone at the 2-yard line. The defense bore down from there, forcing an incompletion out of the end zone, gang tackling Green for a 1-yard loss and Corey Chavous knocking down a bullet intended for Javon Walker on third down. The stand forced a 21-yard field goal from Ryan Longwell for a 3-0 Packers lead after a nine-play, 66-yard drive.
Just like the start of Green Bay's opening drive, the Vikings moved the ball efficiently, except they used the pass and ended it with an explosive score. Nate Burleson started with a 14-yard fade route, and Moss picked up a first down with a 10-yard screen pass. After Culpepper scrambled for 4 yards and Bennett's first carry of the season went for 5 yards, it set up third-and-1. The Vikings packed it in tight with fullback Charles Stackhouse and Moe Williams in the backfield and sent Moss in motion from wide right to tight right. But after the playfake to Williams, Culpepper was patient and waited for Moss to outrun his coverage on a deep post. Moss did and Culpepper delivered in stride for a 43-yard touchdown for a 7-3 lead midway through the first quarter.
The game took on the feel of a shootout when the Packers continued their ball-moving ways, but penalties were the story of Green Bay's second drive. The first one was a penalty that could have been called but wasn't on a reverse to Donald Driver. As Driver was trying to turn the corner, it appeared the Vikings had him 5 yards deep in the backfield but a block that looked like it came from behind allowed Driver to turn upfield and his jets did the rest, taking him 45 yards before Chavous got him down. While the Packers couldn't move the chains again, that one play allowed Longwell to get in range for a 43-yard field goal and pull the Packers within one point with 5:42 to play in the first quarter.
The shootout turned into a punt-off for the rest of the first quarter, as the teams exchanged three punts without a first down.
When Green Bay finally took possession at its own 18, it made a signature drive that indicated they had the Vikings' number. It was signature because of the well-timed mix of pass and run. Green started with an 11-yard run, and on the next play Favre zipped a pass to Driver for 26 yards. After a 6-yard misdirection screen to Najeh Davenport, the backup running back took the next carry up the middle for 22 yards. Sitting on the 17-yard line, Green took the next two passes from Favre for a touchdown that made it look too easy. The Packers had the lead back at 13-7 with 12:18 to play in the first half.
After Bennett picked up a first down, the Vikings offense stalled again, and Green Bay looked to have all the momentum, especially after seven plays put it in Vikings territory. But on the eighth play, on third-and-9, Favre was looking to hit Walker on a slant. This time, instead of Chavous knocking the pass down as he did on the Packers' first drive, the safety stepped in front of the pass for his seventh interception of the season.
After a 25-yard return from Chavous, the Vikings were already in Packers territory. A heavy dose of Williams had them advancing the ball, starting with a 9-yard pass and rushes of 2 and 9 yards. Jim Kleinsasser picked up the second first down of the drive, and Bennett followed with a 13-yard run to the 9-yard line. Williams brought it to the 4-yard line with a nice off-tackle run, but Kleinsasser finished the drive as the single back. He took the fake handoff, then found just enough of seam in the middle of the field to accept the quick pass from Culpepper for a 4-yard touchdown and a 14-13 Vikings lead.
With 2:01 to play, the Packers responded with a 73-yard drive that took only 1:46 off the clock. Green was the answer again. Mixed around a 4-yard sack from Kevin Williams were three touches by Green that produced 41 yards. Tony Fisher kept the chains moving with a 19-yard run, and after a penalty on the Vikings and an incompletion, Favre was facing second-and-5 from the 12-yard line. This time he hooked up with Walker, who found an opening in the middle of the field and used his quickness to juke Denard Walker and get into the end zone for a 20-14 lead with 21 seconds left in the half.
The Vikings needed to respond to open the second half and put together a sustained drive. This time no gain picked up more than 10 yards, but they did pick up four first downs before stalling at the 29-yard line. Aaron Elling connected with a 47-yard field goal to make it 20-17 Green Bay.
The defense finally responded with a three-and-out series, and the Vikings offense again put together a long drive. This time they took 5:09 off the clock on a 10-play drive, but it only went 39 yards before Elling was good from 37 yards out to tie the game at 20 with 2:26 left in the third quarter.
Green Bay took over for what might have been the most important drive of the game. It continued a game-long theme of success with the screen pass when William Henderson picked up 10 yards on third-and-1 for the initial first down of the drive. From there, the Packers wouldn't hit third down again until an incompletion on an attempted screen and a 1-yard loss by Green set up third-and-11 from the 12-yard line. Favre dropped to pass and found a throwing lane right down the middle of the field and threw a missile that Walker reached back to pull in for a 12-yard touchdown with 13:14 to play, giving Green Bay a 27-20 lead.
The Vikings responded with a drive to midfield with Burleson picking up the only first down, and when they had fourth-and-2 from the Green Bay 46-yard line Mike Tice elected to punt with just over nine minutes to play.
After the touchback, Green Bay continued its offensive success when the Vikings needed a stop in the worst way. Instead, the Packers took 6 minutes, 40 seconds off the clock and made it a two-score lead. Walker was Favre's go-to target on third-and-2 at the start of the drive, and Walker came away with an 18-yard pass. On the next third down, third-and-1, Green reeled off a 9-yard run, followed by runs of 8 yards by Davenport and 18 yards by Tony Fisher, bringing the ball to the 10-yard line. Favre was content to take time off the clock with three straight handoffs, and Longwell capped the drive with a 27-yard field goal with 2:37 left to play for a 30-20 Green Bay lead.
The Vikings needed a quick scoring drive and got it done in mildly good time, with Moss picking up two first downs and Burleson putting the ball on the 8-yard line. Two Culpepper rushes produced a touchdown with 33 seconds left, but when Darren Sharper pulled down the onside kick the Packers were leaving town with a rare Metrodome win, 30-27 … and Favre's demons and the Vikings' comfortable divisional lead were leaving town too.
Defense Wilts In 30-27 Loss
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