Notebook: The defense didn't rest

While Brett Favre was a focus and Percy Harvin was explosive, the defense did its job in Lambeau Field, harassing Aaron Rodgers and shutting down the running game. Jared Allen and Ray Edwards, who were particularly effective, talked about the performance.

Percy Harvin brought the special teams to the spotlight. Brett Favre has seven touchdowns, no interceptions and took no sacks in the two-game series with the Packers.

But making it a complete-game effort was the defensive line, which had 14 sacks in two games against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. On Sunday, it was six sacks for the Vikings – all of them going to the defensive linemen.

Jared Allen led the way with three sacks.

"I would say we're firing pretty well on all cylinders," Allen said. "We get rid of that little hitch in the giddy-up in the second half (when the Packers scored 17 points in the third quarter) of the last couple games and we'd be better, but the special teams is playing great, offense is playing great. Defense. This is literally probably the best team I've ever been on. Then again, I was on a 4-12 team a few years ago."

But the Vikings' other defensive end, Ray Edwards, had a very solid game as well. The difference, he said was his health.

"The first time, on the third play of the game I pulled my hamstring. That would be a big part of it. I was playing on one leg last time we played them," said Edwards, who faced right tackle Allen Barbre.

"I felt real good about the matchup coming in. He's definitely a great, athletic tackle. I just feel if you get on him quickly, it kind of hurts him a little. What I was trying to do was get on him quickly and make a move to the quarterback."

He did that and more. Edwards registered two sacks, four quarterback hurries, two passes defensed and three tackles, two of them for losses … and he had at least one other great chance for a sack.

"Just going out there and playing my game," Edwards said. "I'm just studying a lot more tape and just going out there and working basically."

Even with the nearly constant pressure, Rodgers rebounded. He had 38 yards passing in first half, but ended the game with 287 yards. Things obviously changed in the second half.

Allen and Edwards both said the Packers started to keep more players in to protect Rodgers. And he started to run the ball better as well.

"I think the biggest thing was the plays he made off the run. Those were the plays that he made in the second half versus the first half," Allen said. "We were sacking him in the first half and he got out of a couple sacks in the second half that I don't know how he got out of. We knew he could make plays on the run, especially to his right and he did that. I think two-thirds of their rushing yards came off of his one run (a 35-yarder)."

In fact, the Vikings did such a solid job against running back Ryan Grant, who had 30 yards on 10 carries, that Rodgers ended up as the leading rusher with 52 yards. Considering that Grant was the last player to rush for more than 100 yards against the Vikings – back in 2007 – the defense's performance against the run was nearly as impressive as it was in sacking Rodgers.

"It always comes up, because we pride ourself on stopping the run," Edwards said of Grant's 2007 accomplishment. "So for him to get a 100 yards against us, we always tip our hat and we were like, ‘We can't let him do it again.'

"It felt good. We just are going to continue to do what we do and that's smash the run, and then once we make the team one-dimensional get after the quarterback."

COMEBACK CONCERNS?

The Vikings took a 24-3 lead early in the third quarter, but the Packers scored 17 points in the period and pulled within four points one time and five points another time.

The Vikings also had allowed the Baltimore Ravens to come back in a game two weeks ago after building a 27-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. Baltimore scored 21 points in the fourth quarter and Minnesota needed a field goal with 1:56 remaining and a missed Baltimore field goal to pull out the 33-31 win.

Allen said the Packers game was a different situation, where the defense was able to finish strong after a third-quarter lapse.

"This game, we were able to regroup the last two drives and stop them. We were able to finish the game the way we started the game," Allen said.

THE RECEPTION

Favre's return to Lambeau brought a variety of feelings from the fans. Many of them displayed their feelings with a sign. Among the messages:

  • "Watch my team beat your team on your field with your Favre."

  • "Welcome back to Lambeau Field … Brent."

  • "Judas only betrayed one man. You betrayed us all."

  • A plane flying over Lambeau Field before the game had a banner reading, "Retire 4 Good."

    Some fans got the chance to express their feelings before the game. The busses bringing the Vikings from their hotel in Appleton to Lambeau Field were greeted by a mixture of purple jerseys and green jerseys for a few blocks leading up to the stadium. Their team allegiances were split, but it was mostly a warm reception for Favre as he stepped off the bus and walked into the stadium.

    "I saw a mixture of everything," Favre said. "Some cheers, a couple fingers."

    One fan in a half-filled parking lot screamed to anyone that would listen that Favre would be coming on "his own selfish bus" behind the rest of them. Another man was trying to sell the "We'll never forget you, Brent" t-shirts, and a woman had on an old Favre Packers jersey with a "3" added before the "4" and "Green" sewn over the nameplate, a reference to the recently signed running back, Ahman Green. Other shirts had images of Favre's face with degrading sayings or connotations on them.

    No doubt, Favre's return to Lambeau Field was an emotionally charged one for fans as well as the player himself.

    ACTIVE PREGAME DECISIONS

    Wide receivers Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin, who both missed some practice time last week with ailments, were active and played big roles. Harvin was key in the return game, with two long returns into Packers territory as well as a 51-yard receiving touchdown and Berrian added another receiving touchdown.

    Berrian was limited Thursday and Friday with a hamstring injury. Harvin had struggled with illness last week, and NFL.com reported that it was a recurrence of his migraines.

    Inactive for the Vikings were QB Sage Rosenfels (third QB), CB Antoine Winfield (foot), RB Albert Young, FB Naufahu Tahi (knee), C Jon Cooper, WR Darius Reynaud (hamstring), DE Jayme Mitchell and DT Letroy Guion.

    Inactive for Green Bay were FB Korey Hall, S Matt Giordano, T Breno Giacomini, OL Jason Spitz, WR Jordy Nelson, TE Jermichael Finley, DE Jarius Wynn and LB Jeremy Thompson.


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