A comparison of first-half and second-half stats shows the Vikings easily played a better second half, but much of the reason was their ability to keep Green Bay's offense on the sideline. Plus, get more than two dozen telling statistics from Monday night's 20-17 win in Lambeau Field.
If the Vikings had their way, they would like to find a way to convince themselves that the start of the game is actually the start of the second half. If the last two meetings with the Packers are any indication, the Vikings have the potential to be dominant after halftime.
In their first meeting in Week 7, Green Bay led 17-0 at halftime and held a whopping 254-69 advantage in total offensive yards. In the second half of that game, the Vikings turned things completely around, outgaining the Packers 294 yards to 120. The similarities held true in the second meeting Monday, as the Vikings rolled up just 115 yards in the first half, as opposed to 183 yards by the Packers. But once again, the intermission seemed to make all the difference. In the second half, the Vikings gained 216 yards, while limiting Brett Favre
and the Packers to just 53 yards of total offense.
Why the huge disparity? The Vikings may have set a team record for time of possession in one half. Of the 30 minutes in the second half, the Vikings held the ball for 22 minutes, 29 seconds – allowing the Packers to be on offense for just 7 minutes, 31 seconds.
As the Vikings have climbed out of the hole that they dug for themselves with a brutal 1-4 start, they have gone 4-1 since, including three straight wins and, perhaps more importantly, two straight wins on the road for the first time in five years. While everyone is touting the Bears as the team to steamroll across the NFC North, the Vikings still lay in wait and, while they would be in a tie with the Bears had they won their first meeting, they have completed a sweep of the Packers – who you know aren't going to lie down for the Bears now, next month or ever.
Mewelde Moore had his second 100-yard rushing day of the season, carrying 22 times for 122 yards. Of those, he gained 90 yards on 13 carries in the second half as the Vikings wore down the Green Bay defense.
Brad Johnson didn't have a passing touchdown again this week, but he completed 18 of 30 passes for 196 yards. In the second half, he completed eight of 11 passes for 114 yards.
On the flip side of that coin, Favre completed just six of 15 passes for 47 yards in the second half and Donald Driver, who had two catches for 68 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, caught just three short passes for 16 yards in the second half.
One of the rare down games of the season came for punter Chris Kluwe, who had a Darren Bennett-like average of just 38.6 yards on five punts – his lowest single-game average of the season.
The Packers finished the game with just 21 yards on 14 carries with a long run of six yards. Moore averaged almost six yards a run for the Vikings.
Sensation-come-lately Samkon Gado was held to just nine yards on nine carries in the first half and his first carry of the second half was a fumble that lost two yards. It would be his last carry of the game, as he was replaced by Tony Fisher in the second half – who ran four times for 14 yards.
Johnson became the first quarterback in 30 years to take over a team with a 2-5 record and win his first three games as a starter. The last time that feat was accomplished with in 1975, when the old ball coach Steve Spurrier did the trick for the San Francisco 49ers.
Before Ciatrick Fason scored on a 1-yard plunge for the Vikings' only offensive TD of the game, the Vikings had gone an abysmal 138 minutes and 16 seconds without scoring on offense – the span of more than nine quarters.
Before connecting on passes of eight yards to Jermaine Wiggins and 35 yards to Koren Robinson in the final minute of the game, the Vikings had eaten up clock time by running the ball on nine consecutive plays.
The Packers finished the game converting just 2-of-10 third-down opportunities, including going 0-for-4 in the second half. The Vikings weren't a lot better, converting on just 6-of-15 third-down attempts, but were 4-of-7 in the second half – three of them being keys on two of the Vikings' second-half scoring drives.
Guard Toniu Fonoti left the game in the final minute of the third quarter with a groin injury and was replaced by Anthony Herrera. Chris Liwienski, who had started 73 straight games at guard, was not only demoted but deactivated for Monday's game. Mike Tice had vowed not to keep nine offensive linemen active for Monday's game.
While a pair of Green Bay penalties cost the Packers dearly on the Vikings' long scoring drive in the third quarter, they didn't get their first penalty of the game until four-and-a-half minutes into the second half.
Being able to get the huge pass play to Koren Robinson late in the game helped mask some confusion for the Vikings in the second half. As the team took over with 3:03 to play in the game, the Vikings had just one time out. One had been used with one minute to play in the third quarter and another with 11:44 to play in the fourth – both burned while the Vikings were on offense and there was confusion about getting a play in and called.
The Vikings' third-quarter drive to tie the game took 8:33 off the clock included 15 plays – 13 offensive plays and two Packers penalties – and earned the team eight first downs.
Michael Bennett finished the game with five carries for 10 yards. He didn't officially have a carry until the third quarter. He did have a 7-yard run in the second quarter, but it was negated by a holding penalty on Mike Rosenthal.
Whether there was a connection or not, Rosenthal was lifted in the second quarter and replaced by Marcus Johnson after being overmatched by Aaron Kampman. Vikings fans may recall that the team signed Kampman to an offer sheet in the offseason, but because he was a restricted free agent, the Packers had a chance to match the offer – which they obviously did and don't regret.
In the first half, the Vikings had just 82 yards passing from Brad Johnson and the longest completion was 11 yards. On the first play of the third quarter, Johnson threw a bomb that should have been caught by K-Rob. Even so, the team had completions of 17, 25 and 35 yards in the second half.
Darren Sharper, a former Packer, was booed quite loudly by Packers fans every time he was around a tackle.
In the first half, Favre completed 14-of-18 passes to nine different receivers.
The Vikings held even with the Packers in the second quarter Monday night, as each team scored seven points. It had to be viewed as something of a moral victory. Coming into the game, the Vikings had been outscored 107-38 in the second quarter alone.
Dovonte Edwards' 51-yard interception return in the second quarter was the fourth consecutive touchdown scored by the Vikings that didn't include the offense – two interceptions, a kick return and a punt return.
The Vikings defense got the Packers off the field in three-and-out drives (if penalties aren't included) in the first three drives of the second half and two of the first three drives in the first half.
Of the Packers' 12 drives during the game, they had more than one first down on just three of them. As it would turn out, it would be their three scoring drives. The Vikings had two or more first downs on six of their 12 drives in the game.
On the first play of the second quarter, Johnson threw his first interception of the season and the first by a Vikings quarterback in more than four games.
Gado is the fourth different starting running back for the Packers this year.
The Vikings have started 42 different players on offense and defense this year. That's the most of any team except former Vikings coach Denny Green and his Arizona Cardinals.
Erasmus James made his return to Wisconsin Monday and got an early sack of Favre.
After rushing for just 16 yards against the Giants a week earlier, the Vikings gained 21 yards rushing on the first three plays from scrimmage.
The Packers are now 2-8 and will have to win all six of their remaining games to finish with a .500 record. Green Bay hasn't had a losing record since 1991 – the year before Favre became their starting quarterback.