Time Off, Then Packer Week

The Vikings have won two games in a row – and one game in a row on the road. They will have a chance to extend their road winning next Monday in Green Bay after a few days of rest and review.

The Vikings finally proved they can win on the road Sunday, shocking the New York Giants 24-21. Now the question becomes, can that momentum carry over for another week?

The Vikings (4-5) certainly should have a chance considering they will be playing the 2-7 Packers on Monday night at Lambeau Field. However, Green Bay is coming off its own shocking road victory, at Atlanta, and Vikings-Packers matchups are rarely predictable.

The Vikings did win in their last trip to Lambeau, ousting the Packers from the playoffs in the first round last season. The Vikings also beat the Packers last month at the Metrodome, winning 23-20 on Paul Edinger's 56-yard field goal as time expired.

But the Vikings are 3-1 at home this season, their only loss a season-opening 24-13 defeat to the Buccaneers. The road had been another story. Entering the Giants game, Minnesota had been outscored 133-34 in four losses and hadn't scored more than 13 points in any of the games.

Coach Mike Tice was so pleased with his team's victory Sunday that he gave the players three days off. They will return Thursday to start preparing for the Packers and hope to keep their two-game winning streak alive.

That doesn't mean there aren't some real problems that need to be fixed. The first is with an offense that generated only 137 yards (12 rushing) versus New York and did not score a touchdown. The Vikings' three touchdowns came on an interception, a kickoff return and a punt return.

Running back Mewelde Moore did not get on the field for an offensive play against the Giants because of a sprained right wrist, so his return against the Packers could provide a boost.

But Tice might have been in worse shape than any of his players after the victory. Tice sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee after being slammed into by the Giants' Jamaar Taylor on the sideline during a Vikings punt return.

"Fourteen years in the league and I never hurt my knee," said Tice, a former NFL tight end. "That's kind of embarrassing me. I guess I was turning and yelling at somebody."

NOTES

  • FS Darren Sharper's 92-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Giants was the third longest in Vikings' history and gives him two of the longest in franchise history. It was Sharper's seventh career interception return for a touchdown and the ninth touchdown of his career. Sharper, who ran an interception back 88 yards in the season-opener against Tampa Bay in his Vikings debut, later missed one series after suffering a bruised left knee but returned.

  • DL Spencer Johnson sat out for the fourth time in five games Sunday because of a right knee injury. Johnson said his problems started when he sprained the MCL in his right knee Oct. 2 at Atlanta. "It's a combination of stuff that started with the MCL," Johnson said. "My MCL (problem) makes my hamstring tighten up. ... I can't play right now." Johnson, in his second season, was undrafted out of college partially because of a problem with the same knee, but he said that was cartilage damage and is unrelated.

  • C Melvin Fowler aggravated his already sore oblique muscle in the pregame warm-ups against the Giants and was lifted in favor of Cory Withrow for the second half. Withrow was the Vikings' starting center for the first four games of the season.

  • RB Michael Bennett had a season-high 19 carries against the Giants but gained only 16 yards and lost a fumble. Bennett also caught six passes for 11 yards.

  • RB Moe Williams missed a second consecutive game because of knee and back injuries. Once again, rookie RB Ciatrick Fason replaced him for some third-and-short situations.

  • CB Fred Smoot sat out his first game of the season because of a broken right collarbone. Smoot is expected to miss four to six weeks.

  • P Chris Kluwe suffered a bruised right shoulder in the second quarter against the Giants but was able to continue.


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