Without Randy Moss in the lineup, the Vikings are forced to have other players step up. Some are answering the call while others aren't healthy enough to do that.
WR Nate Burleson had career highs in catches (11) and receiving yards (141) against the Packers. Burleson is one of the team's best athletes and claims his 42 1/2-inch vertical jump makes him "pound for pound, probably the highest jumper in Minnesota."
Burleson also is one of the team's hardest workers. "He's just great to have on the team," coach Mike Tice said. "I love having him around."
The Vikings gave up 273 yards of offense, 133 yards rushing and three of Favre's four touchdown passes while falling behind 24-10 at halftime. The Vikings allowed 169 yards, 73 yards rushing and 10 points in the second half.
"We looked like two different teams in the first half and the second half," defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell said. "Once we settled down, we came back and played some pretty darn good team defense."
DT Spencer Johnson, a rookie free agent, has moved ahead of veteran Steve Martin in the defensive line rotation. Johnson, who was inactive in the first seven games, played extensively Sunday against the Packers while Martin was inactive. Johnson responded with five tackles, including a half tackle on a fourth-and-one stop at the Vikings' 15-yard line in the third quarter.
QB Daunte Culpepper's competitiveness was the main reason the Vikings came back from a 24-10 halftime deficit to tie the Packers 31-31 in the fourth quarter of a game they lost 34-31.
One of his best plays came on second-and-10 from the Packers' 30 with 3:30 left in the third quarter and the Vikings trailing 24-10. Packers DT Cletidus Hunt (6-4, 310) broke through the line of scrimmage, ran into Culpepper and had him by the jersey. Culpepper escaped to his left and threw a 22-yard completion to TE Jermaine Wiggins. Culpepper threw an eight-yard TD pass to WR Nate Burleson on the next play.
TE Jermaine Wiggins continues to make great clutch catches. He had six grabs for 94 yards and a touchdown against the Packers. Wiggins is a much better athlete than his body indicates. He makes the tough catches above his head. He had one against the Packers with a safety draped all over him.
WR Marcus Robinson is showing the effects of a sprained foot suffered two weeks ago. He caught only two passes for 39 yards against the Packers. He wasn't running as fast as he normally does, and he got no elevation when the ball was thrown to him.
The Vikings cut tight end Ben Steele during training camp. He signed with the Packers' practice squad.
When the Vikings tried to re-sign him from the Packers' practice squad, the Packers promoted him to their 53-man roster. It proved to be a good move.
Steele recovered teammate Robert Ferguson's fumbled kickoff return at the Packers' 46 with 1:11 left in Sunday's game. The Packers went on to kick a game-winning 33-yard field goal as time expired. The Vikings claim they recovered the ball, but the bottom line is the officials awarded the loose ball to Steele, which made Packers QB Brett Favre a happy future Hall of Famer.
"Sometimes, you envision going into a game what will make the difference," Favre said. "You think it will be a great run or a great catch or a devastating block. You don't think it's going to be a fumble recovery. But that's what it was. Ben will be remembered for that around here for a while."