There were no guarantees Jared Allen was going to play Sunday. In fact, he was listed as doubtful, which translates to a 25 percent chance of playing. Not only did Allen play in Sunday's 28-27 win over Green Bay, but he scored a safety on a sack of Aaron Rodgers that proved to be the difference in the game.
There were some questions whether Jared Allen
could play at all Sunday and, if he did, how long he could last. Allen answered all those questions in Sunday's 28-27 win over Green Bay, in which he registered his second safety of the year and played almost the entire game.
Allen, who admitted his shoulder was stiff from wearing a protective harness all day, said he didn't know until this morning if he was going to be able to go.
"The biggest part was getting the swelling down," Allen said. "It was pretty bad Friday and Saturday. Prayers were answered. My mom would call me every night and say, ‘I'm praying for you.' I told her, ‘I'm praying for myself too, Mom.' Our training staff took care of me. Eric Sugarman took great care of me. The swelling was down this morning and I talked to coach and asked him to let me give it a shot."
Allen, who was fined $50,000 by the NFL for what were deemed to be dangerous hits on Texans QB Matt Schaub
last week, may be hearing from the league again after hitting Aaron Rodgers
and drawing a personal foul penalty. But Allen said he has no plans to change the way he plays the game.
"I don't ever go out and try to hurt anyone," Allen said. "I just play football hard and if I get penalized for playing football hard then that is what it's going to be. But I'm not going to apologize for the way I play. If they want to throw on a target, then I'll be a target."
Pain or not, Allen said this was the kind of game the Vikings needed to have and, as long as he was able to play, nothing was going to stop him.
"I didn't want to come in and go out if I was playing," Allen said. "If it was ever going to get warmed up and loose, it was going to have to be by playing with it and staying out there. I'm just glad the coaches had the confidence in me to put me out there and let it go full speed."
The Vikings defense put up one of its best performances of the year, but, if not for a missed Mason Crosby field goal at the end, it could have come on the losing side of the game. "It seemed like at times we were just trying to give that thing away," linebacker Ben Leber said. "It's not the way we want to play and we let them back in the game. At 21-10, we had momentum and had them on their heels. Defensively, we needed to come out with stops to make up for the mistakes we had."
With the win, the Vikings are tied for first place with the Bears and, despite being the narrowest or margins, linebacker Chad Greenway said it was enough to save the season for the Vikings. "This was huge," Greenway said. "That field goal missing by six inches was a big six inches for both teams. They're not out of it by any stretch. But, we're 5-4 with a couple of tough road games coming. We're 2-0 since the break and that's the big thing we're focusing on – just taking one opponent at a time."
Prior to the game, VU made cursory mention that Adrian Peterson needed 172 yards to tie Clinton Portis of the Redskins for the NFL lead in rushing. After rolling up 192 yards on 30 carries Sunday, Peterson took over the lead in rushing with 1,015 yards.
Peterson has now topped the 1,000-yard plateau in rushing in nine games or less in both of his two seasons. Last year, he went over 1,000 yards in just eight games.
A.D.'s 192 yards is the most ever gained by a Viking in the long rivalry with the Packers, breaking the old mark of 179 yards set by Ted Brown in 1983.
The Vikings nearly doubled the Packers in total yards Sunday, which belied the closeness of the game. The Vikings had 361 yards (220 rushing, 141 passing), while the Packers had just 184 total yards (110 passing, 74 rushing).
The Vikings dominated time of possession throughout the game, finishing with a huge edge of 36:05 to 23:55 for the Packers.
The Packers were one of the best third-down conversion teams in the league coming into the game, while the Vikings were one of the worst. The Vikings converted 6 of 15 third downs (40 percent), but the Packers converted just 1 of 11 third downs (9 percent).
Both teams averaged more yards per play rushing (5.1 yards for the Vikings, 3.8 yards for the Packers) than they did per pass play (4.7 yards for the Vikings, 3.7 yards for Green Bay).
The game was loaded with penalties, as Green Bay was flagged for 10 fouls for 80 yards and the Vikings were hit with seven penalties for 55 yards.
Despite scoring a combined 55 points, the two teams combined to get into the red zone just twice – both teams got in the red zone once and scored touchdowns.
Gus Frerotte has had at least one interception in six of his seven starts and has eight picks in the last three weeks, including three on Sunday. He completed 15 of 28 passes for 151 yards with two TD passes and three interceptions for a dismal passer rating of 53.4.
Aaron Rodgers wasn't much better. He completed 15 of 26 passes for 142 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions for a passer rating of 72.9.
Chester Taylor won't get the headlines A.D. will garner following this game, but he had an impressive day as well, catching four passes for 84 yards and rushing 10 times for 29 yards.
Peterson once again rushed for 100 yards in one half. In the second half alone, he rushed 16 times for 112 yards.
One name that never showed up on the stat sheet was wide receiver Bernard Berrian. He was held without a reception Sunday, continuing a horrible trend against the Packers in his career. Over his last six games against Green Bay, he has caught just nine passes for 131 yards – catching three passes in one game, two passes in one game, one pass in three games and none Sunday.
The Packers did an outstanding job of taking away the Vikings wide receivers. Of the 15 passes Frerotte completed, only four of them were to wideouts – three to Bobby Wade and one to Sidney Rice.
The Vikings punt coverage, which is worst by a long distance in the NFL, didn't do themselves any favors Sunday. They added 75 more yards to that total on just two punt returns.
Chris Kluwe had a solid punting day, hitting five punts for an average of 46.8 yards – four of which pinned the Packers inside their own 20-yard line. But thanks to the blown coverage that allowed Will Blackmon to return a punt 65 yards for a touchdown, Kluwe's net average was a dismal 31.8 yards.
Packers linebacker Brady Poppinga led all players with 11 tackles (five solo). The Vikings' leading tackler was Chad Greenway, who had seven tackles and a sack.
Adding insult to injury for the numerous Packers fans in attendance, the Vikings public address system blared Todd Rundgren's "Bang the Drum All Day" following Mason Crosby's missed field goal in the final minute of the game. For those unfamiliar with the song, you've likely heard it many times – it is the song the Packers play at Lambeau Field whenever the Packers score a touchdown.
The Vikings made what, at the time, looked to be a double-whammy of bad luck, as the team challenged a third-down spot at their own 41-yard line with about nine minutes to play and, during the timeout, decided that if they weren't awarded the first down, they would go on fourth down. The Vikings lost the challenge and, on the fourth-down play, Peterson fumbled the ball and the Vikings turned the ball over on downs. The defense held the Packers and forced them to settle for a Crosby field goal to take a 27-21 lead with 5:56 to play.
Two plays before the field goal, the Packers scored an apparent touchdown on a 22-yard pass from Rodgers to Jennings, but the play was negated by a false start penalty.
Rodgers may have a hard time getting out of bed Monday morning. Not only was he sacked four times, but he was hit twice as many times as he released passes. In one three-play stretch alone in the fourth quarter, he was drilled by Allen (see below), as well as getting pounded by blitzing Madieu Williams and Ben Leber on consecutive incompletions.
Allen was a victim of his own aggression early in the fourth quarter when it appeared as though the Vikings defense was going to get off the field on a short third-down pass. Allen hit Rodgers in the head on a pass rush and was hit with a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
Late in the third quarter, Peterson went over the 100-yard mark for the fourth straight game. That ties him with Michael Bennett for second all-time on the Vikings rushing list. He is one behind the all-time record of five straight by Robert Smith during the 2000 season.
Going over 100 yards gave A.D. 12 100-yard games in 23 career games. He had six 100-yard games in 14 games last year and has six in just nine games this year. The franchise record for 100-yard games in a season is eight – set by Smith in 2000.
With seven games still remaining, Peterson could climb the charts for most 100-yard rushing games in the first two seasons of an NFL career. He is currently tied with Eddie George for sixth all-time with 12. He has a chance to catch Ottis Anderson (15) for fifth place. A much taller order will be the top four – Eric Dickerson (21), Edgerrin James (19), Earl Campbell (18) and Clinton Portis (18).
One of the big concerns coming into the game was the Packers' penchant for bringing returns back for touchdowns. Entering Sunday's game, Green Bay had six returns for touchdowns – five interceptions and one punt return. That total swelled to eight in the span of a little more than two minutes, as Nick Collins scored his third TD of the year on a 59-yard interception return and return man Will Blackmon scored his second punt return TD – both against the Vikings – to give the Packers 14 points without the Vikings defense ever being on the field.
The Vikings dominated time of possession in the first half, holding the ball for 17:35, as opposed to just 12:25 for the Packers. The Vikings had 131 total yards (94 rushing, 37 passing), while Green Bay could muster just 103 yards (71 passing, 32 rushing).
After going 3 of 3 converting third downs in the first quarter, the Vikings were 0-for-5 in the second quarter.
The average starting position of Vikings' drives in the first half was their own 36-yard line. The Packers' average start came from their own 25-yard line.
The Vikings dominated the ground game in the first half with 94 yards on 19 carries. Peterson led the way with 80 yards on 14 carries and Taylor added five rushes for 14 yards. The Packers had just 32 rushing yards on nine carries, led by Grant – who ran seven times for 33 yards.
Rodgers completed nine of 15 passes for 91 yards in the first half, completing passes to seven different receivers. Frerotte completed seven of 15 passes for 47 yards with one TD and two interceptions for a passer rating of just 36.7 in the first half. Taylor led the Vikings with two catches for 26 yards – the only Viking with more than nine receiving yards in the first half.
Packers DE Aaron Kampman had a monster first half, making eight tackles and getting credit for a half-sack on Frerotte.
The Vikings put themselves in the record books late in the first half when Jared Allen sacked Rodgers for the second safety of the game. It was the third safety of the year for the Vikings, which ties franchise marks set in 1965 and 1981. The two safeties in a game were also a team record, set Oct. 5, 1963 against the Falcons – safeties that came on an intentional grounding penalty and a holding penalty in the end zone. Allen also tied Vikings Hall of Famer Alan Page with his second safety in a season, which Page did in 1971.
Allen became just the 15th player in NFL history to record two safeties in a season, tying an NFL record. The last person to do it prior to him was Bryant Young of the 49ers in 1996.
Charles Gordon suffered a gruesome-looking ankle injury returning a punt in the second quarter. The game was delay for several minutes as Gordon was taken off the field on a cart. Several members of the Packers came over to wish him well as he was taken off the field.
Ryan Longwell's 54-yard field goal was the second-longest of his career. It was also the third-longest in Vikings history, behind only a 56-yarder by Paul Edinger in 2005 against the Packers and a 55-yarder by Longwell against the Packers
Despite not getting the ball first in the game, the Vikings dominated the first-quarter stats. The Vikings had the ball for 8:15 of the quarter and outgained the Packers 68-45 in total yards. The Vikings had 35 yards rushing and 33 yards passing, while Green Bay rushed for 24 yards and had 21 yards passing.
The Vikings converted all three of their third-down attempts in the quarter, while the Packers made good on just one of three attempts.
Individually, Peterson did all the running for the Vikings, carrying eight times for 35 yards. Frerotte completed four of seven passes for 33 yards.
The Vikings defense stepped up early, recording back-to-back sacks from Napoleon Harris and Brian Robison to kill the Packers' second drive before it could get started.
It didn't take the Vikings long to get an early lead Sunday. The Packers won the toss, but went three-and-out, giving the Vikings the ball to start at the Green Bay 39-yard line. Frerotte converted a pair of third-down plays to keep the drive alive and, on the third third-down opportunity, he completed a touchdown pass to Sidney Rice for a touchdown and a 7-0 Vikings lead.
The touchdown catch for Rice was just his fifth reception of the season, but his third touchdown.
Rice's touchdown was his third in three career games against Green Bay.
Among the Vikings that went out for the opening coin toss was DE Kenechi Udeze, who has been on injured reserve since being diagnosed with leukemia.
Blowing the ceremonial Vikings horn prior to the player introductions was Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson. She and members of the men's and women's U.S. Olympic gymnastics teams were guests of the team.
The Vikings inactives included CB Marcus McCauley, WR Robert Ferguson, LB Dontarrious Thomas and OT Marcus Johnson.
The paid attendance was 63,845 – unfortunately, many of the seats right on the 50-yard line that are held by season ticket holders since the days of Met Stadium were occupied by Packers fans wearing their green and gold.