Jared Allen may not have been the first name discussed in the days leading up to the Vikings' 30-23 beatdown of the Green Bay Packers Monday, but he made his presence felt with a monster day that he wasn't sure he would be physically able to perform.
On a night where most of the attention was being focused upon the Vikings quarterback, it was a huge effort by the defense, in particular defensive end Jared Allen
, that made as big a difference as anything in the Vikings 30-23 win over the Green Bay Packers.
Allen had seven tackles, six solo tackles, a career-high 4.5 sacks, five quarterback hits and a forced fumble. What makes his performance so impressive was that he wasn't feeling good most of the week leading up to the game.
"I'm exhausted," Allen said. "I had a little bit of a sick bug this week and that tested my conditioning. When a guy is scrambling, you can't ask your guys to cover all day. When I got (quarterback Aaron Rodgers
) on the sacks, I didn't say anything to him, because I didn't have enough breath left in me."
Allen said his adrenaline was stoked all night by the crowd of more than 68,000 that were in full throat from start to finish. He said it was heard loud and clear on the field and kept the players on edge to keep fighting.
Allen got a safety on Rodgers in the fourth quarter that he thought initially was a fumble, which he was hoping to add to his laudatory list of stats on the night. But, like the rest of the fans, once he saw it on the video screen, he realized he scored two points – his team-record third safety as a member of the Vikings in 20 games – after he shook loose some cobwebs.
"Honestly, I thought it was a fumble," Allen said. "When I recovered it, I tried to get up, but got lit up pretty good. I thought it was a fumble until I saw the replay."
With his monster night, Allen now has 21 sacks in 20 games as a Viking – 14.5 in 2008 and 6.5 in the first four games this year. But he's looking for more – a half-sack more. When the team watches film later this week, he was asked if he had any intentions of lobbying for credit for the other half-sack.
"Absolutely," Allen said with a sly grin. "I ain't giving nothing away. I hit him first and forced the fumble."
Allen said his exhaustion will likely take hold Tuesday as the Vikings get some time off before starting the preparation for the Rams on Wednesday. As tired as he was Monday night, it already felt like Tuesday.
"I usually feel this way the next day (Tuesday)," Allen said with a smile. "It just came a little early tonight. What time is it? It might be the next day already."
GAME NIGHT NOTES
Favre has now beaten all 32 teams in his career. With a win over Green Bay, he became the first quarterback in history to post wins over every team in the 32-team NFL.
Monday's game was the seventh time the Vikings and Packers have met on Monday Night Football. The teams split their first six MNF meetings.
Monday was the first time the Vikings and Packers met on Monday night at the Metrodome since Dec. 20, 1999.
The Packers have an edge of 49 wins, 47 losses and one tie with the Vikings in 97 games against one another.
Thanks to the Vikings playing a prevent defense in the fourth quarter and simply trying to kill clock on offense, the Packers won the total yardage battle by a relatively wide margin. Green Bay gained 424 yards (342 passing, 82 rushing) to the Vikings' 334 yards (273 passing, 63 rushing). Both teams ended up running 62 offensive plays.
Both offenses were impressive on third down. The Vikings converted eight of 14 third-down chances (57 percent), while the Packers made good on seven of 13 third-down opportunities (54 percent).
The Vikings had by far their worst rushing night of the season, as the Packers were determined to stack the box and slow down Adrian Peterson. The Vikings ran the ball 30 times, but gained just 63 yards and A.P. had just 55 yards on 25 carries – by far his lowest yardage total in games in which he had 20 or more carries.
With his 55 yards Monday, Peterson remains 22 yards behind Chris Johnson of the Titans for the NFL rushing lead.
The Vikings scored touchdowns on all three of their trips into the red zone. The Packers were 0-for-2.
In their first three games, the Packers had just one giveaway. They had two Monday and both were critical.
The special teams did its part Monday. On five punts, the Packers had zero yards in punt returns.
The Vikings didn't miss a beat in their punt returning. With Darius Reynaud, second in the NFL in punt return average but out with a hamstring injury, Jaymar Johnson replaced him and averaged 21 yards per return.
Favre completed 24 of 31 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns for a passer rating of 135.3. Rodgers completed 26 of 37 passes for 384 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 110.6
In their first three games, the Vikings had not allowed a 300-yard passer or a 100-yard receiver. That ended in a big way Monday with Rodgers blowing past 300 yards and tight end Jermichael Finley catching six passes for 128 yards.
Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice led the way Monday. In the first three games, Berrian had 10 catches for 102 yards and Rice had nine catches for 102 yards and one TD. On Monday, Berrian caught six passes for 75 yards and a touchdown and Rice had five catches for 70 yards and a score.
The wide receiver tandem of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver combined for 22 catches for 442 yards and three touchdowns in their first three games – an average of seven catches for 147 yards and a TD per game. Monday they combined to catch seven passes for just 86 yards and no TDs.
Antoine Winfield led the Vikings with nine tackles – all solo – and an interception.
The Vikings defense was credited with nine quarterback hits on Rodgers. The Packers were credited with just one such hit on Favre.
Rice not only had a big day as a receiver, he made a couple of other critical catches late, pulling down both of Green Bay's onside kick attempts.
As a team, the Vikings recorded eight sacks – 4.5 by Allen, 1.5 by Brian Robison and one each for Ben Leber and Jimmy Kennedy.
The Vikings didn't have a penalty charged against them until 3:40 remained in the game, when Kevin Williams jumped offside on a two-point conversion attempt.
The Vikings special teams came up with a big play that helped lead to Allen's safety in the fourth quarter. On a punt by Chris Kluwe, Karl Paymah slapped the ball into play as it was going into the end and Eric Frampton downed it at the 1-yard line.
The Vikings suffered through a Wildcat debacle in the third quarter. Harvin took a direct snap, handed off to Berrian, who flipped the ball to Rice with the intention of throwing a bomb. However, the Packers weren't fooled and, after scrambling in the pocket, Rice threw the ball out of bounds.
The Packers offensive line continued to be plagued by injuries. With starting left tackle Chad Clifton inactive, along with backup Breno Giacomini, guard Daryn Colledge was forced to play left tackle. But, in the third quarter, Colledge went out with a knee injury, forcing rookie backup T.J. Lang to move to left tackle.
Leber made a play in the third quarter that may well have tipped the tide of the game. With the Vikings leading 28-14 with three minutes to play in the third quarter, Rodgers threw a third-down bubble screen to Finley. All that lay between him and a touchdown was Leber, who laid a big hit on him and dropped him at the 1-yard line. On fourth down, Rodgers threw an incompletion to kill the drive.
"It was one of those reaction plays," Leber said. "I was keying him the whole time and should have been a half-step closer. I knew that I wasn't going to make a play on the fake and he was my sole responsibility in a situation like that. I was where I was supposed to be and made a play."
Thanks to a lopsided time of possession (9:43 to 5:17), the Vikings dominated the second quarter statistics – outgaining the Packers 152-37 and converting all four third-down opportunities.
At halftime, the Vikings held a time of possession edge of 17:04 to 12:56. The Vikes had 200 total yards (154 passing, 46 rushing) to 176 for Green Bay (151 passing, 26 rushing). The Vikings scored three touchdowns in three red zone chances. The Packers never officially got in the red zone despite scoring 14 points.
The Packers had six penalties in the first half, including one that negated an interception in the end zone prior to Peterson's second-quarter touchdown. The Vikings had no penalties in the first half.
Individually, Favre completed 14 of 17 passes in the first half for 154 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 143.6. Peterson had 14 carries for 43 yards. Rice and Berrian each had four catches – Rice for 58 yards and Berrian for 37.
For Green Bay, Rodgers completed 12 of 18 passes for 174 yards with one touchdown and one interception for a passer rating of 93.3 in the first half. Grant had just 16 yards on five carries and, as a team, the Packers had just 25 yards on seven carries. Finley led the Packers with four catches for 91 yards.
Of the Vikings' 14 receptions in the first half, 10 of them went to wide receivers.
Peterson's ability to stay on his feet hurt him in the second quarter. Taking a sweep to the left, he was met by a host of Packers, but wouldn't go down. Rookie Clay Matthews ripped the ball loose and took it 42 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14-14 with three minutes to play in the first half. He suffered a short-lived leg injury and didn't come out for the start of the ensuing drive in the final minutes of the half.
In the second quarter, Leber got a sack on Rodgers that everyone in the building saw coming except the Packers QB – despite having Leber running directly at him from the front.
"He didn't see me," Leber said. "I had a chance to talk to him during the game and he said straight out, ‘I didn't see you coming.' I wasn't supposed to be there. It was a slow developing play and I just decided to go after him. Sometimes you get those kind of lucky sacks.
The Vikings took a 14-7 lead with a second long drive coming from a Packers turnover. The Vikings went 67 yards in 10 plays, including a pair of big completions to Rice – a 24-yarder on a third down to get into Packer territory and 14-yard touchdown on a third-and-11 play to give the Vikings a 14-7 lead.
The Vikings had some slow communication on a fourth-down challenge early in the second quarter. Faced with a fourth-and-2, Rodgers threw a pass over the middle that was broken up by E.J. Henderson, but the deflected ball was scooped by Jennings. However, replay showed that the ball touched the ground before being caught. The Vikings tried to throw the challenge flag, but waited far too long and the Packers were able to run another play. Childress said he was on the headset discussing defensive strategy and didn't a good second look at the play. But, one play later, Rodgers was intercepted.
Thanks to a pair of long drives, the Packers dominated the first-quarter stats. The Pack had 139 total yards (124 passing, 15 rushing), as opposed to 48 for the Vikings (26 rushing, 22 passing). Green Bay ran only one more play (15-14) and had a slim time of possession edge with 7:39.
Individually, Favre completed six of eight passes in the first quarter for 22 yards. Peterson had seven rushes for 26 yards and Berrian led all receivers with three catches for 21 yards. For the Packers, Rodgers completed seven of nine passes for 133 yards and a touchdown for a passer rating of 155.8. Finley was the big recipient with four catches for 91 yards. Grant was held to just 10 yards on three carries.
Of the four Packers who caught passes in the first quarter, all of them averaged 13 yards or more per reception.
Finley was the man in the first quarter for the Packers. He caught three passes for 82 yards in their first two drives, including a 62-yard touchdown on their second drive.
The Vikings' first drive of the game showed how they planned on approaching the Packers. Peterson ran the first four plays and had seven carries for 26 yards on the first drive of the game. Favre was 5-for-5 passing for 26 yards and a 1-yard touchdown to Shiancoe – bringing back memories of Bubba Franks so many times at the goal line against the Vikings.
The touchdown for the Vikings was the first time in four games that they have scored on their opening drive.
The Vikings got the first big break of the game on the opening drive. After converting a pair of third-and-7 situations with completions of 13 yards to Jennings and 18 yards to Finley, Rodgers saw the pocket collapsing on the right and spun left – only to find Allen waiting for him. Rodgers was hit by Allen and Brian Robison and fumbled. Chad Greenway recovered on the 33-yard line
Vikings Hall of Famer Randall McDaniel sounded the honorary Gjallarhorn prior to Monday's game.
Scott Stapp, the lead singer of Creed, sang the National Anthem.
The Vikings had an interested group of spectators Monday – members of the Minnesota Twins, who will be playing Tuesday afternoon in a one-game playoff with the Tigers for the right to face the Yankees in the playoffs. Among those spotted were Joe Nathan, Carl Pavano, Denard Span, Delmon Young and Nick Punto.
"I'm not sure how much more screaming this building is going to be able to take," said Nathan, whose Twins drew more than 100,000 fans in the final two games of the regular season and are expecting a crowd in excess of 51,000 Tuesday.
The paid attendance was 63,846, the 119th straight Metrodome sellout dating back to 1998.