The Vikings Walk-Off Over the Green Bay Packers
What a hell of a game. There was high-flying offense, great defensive plays, questionable calls, and a last-second field goal attempt. For fans that reside in Minnesota, combining all that is usually a recipe for a devastating loss. This time around, the Vikings (5-5) found a way to overcome, and they got a huge home victory over the division-rival, Packers (8-3), 34-31.
The game got off to a fast start for both sides, highlighted by big catches from Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson on both teams’ opening drives. After a pair of field goals on those drives, the Vikings forced Green Bay to punt on their next drive, one of just five on the day for either team.
Immediately, the Vikings again aggressively moved the ball downfield, highlighted by another Justin Jefferson reception that went for 56 yards down to the goal line. Dalvin Cook, in what was mostly a quiet day, punched the ball in for a one-yard score moments later. Greg Joseph would miss the ensuing extra point attempt.
On the next Packers drive, they moved the ball downfield with ease, until they hit the red zone. Then, after struggling on his kicks in recent weeks, Mason Crosby missed yet again from just 32 yards. Once again, the Vikings would respond with a TD, and again, it came highlighted with more deep passing. This time, it wasn’t a completion, but Justin Jefferson earned a DPI call for 36 yards. It was one of eight penalties for 92 yards by a usually clean Packers group. On a 10-yard TD catch by Adam Thielen, the Vikings jumped out to a 16-3 early lead.
However, everyone knew Green Bay wouldn’t just stand idly by. With under two minutes left in the first half, Aaron Rodgers hit an unlikely target, Josiah Deguara, for a 25-yard score, cutting the deficit to 16-10 going into halftime.
Usually, this would be where the Vikings turn to a conservative brand of football, but not on this day. Instead, Kirk Cousins led a 16-play drive that ended in a nine-yard touchdown reception for Justin Jefferson. Immediately following that though, Aaron Rodgers led his own drive capped by a TD pass to Davante Adams.
With the score 23-17, we were heading towards a classic QB duel between Rodgers and Cousins in Minneapolis. However, with the Vikings again moving downfield, the Packers defense caught a break, sacking Cousins on third down to drive the Vikes out of field goal range. They put the ball back in Rodgers’ hands with a chance to take the lead, and he did just that.
Green Bay opened the fourth quarter with a 94-yard TD drive that would put them up 24-23 with just over 7.5 minutes to play. Cousins was unfazed. He hit strike after strike, and eventually Jefferson scored his second TD of the day, this time for 23 of his 169 total yards. A successful two-point run by Cook made it 31-24 with 2:17 on the clock.
We all know what was going on in Vikings fans heads at this moment: “too much time”. Turns out they were right as Rodgers connected with Marquez Valdez-Scantling for 75 yards and a touchdown. The drive took all of nine seconds.
The game was tied at 31, but now, it was Captain Kirk with a chance to lead a game-winning drive. Quickly, it seemed like that chance was over as Green Bay CB Darnell Savage intercepted a pass intended for Jefferson. It would have put Green Bay in Minnesota territory with a chance to win, but upon review, the refs decided the ball had come out. It was the third time a play of that variety happened to Savage on the day.
With the Minnesota offense back on the field, Cousins showed out. Immediately, he went to Jefferson again for six yards. Then, he connected with Thielen and Cook simultaneously for 19 and 26 yards. Well into field goal range with a 1:26 to play, the Vikings ran up the middle with Cook for 12 yards. This set Minnesota up at the GB 7, and they opted to kneel the clock down to :04. Greg Joseph, who missed that XP earlier in the game, trotted out onto the field to kick a potential game-winner from 20 yards.
And it was good, just like everyone expected.
Minnesota beat Green Bay 34-31, moving them securely into the playoff picture at the No. 6 seed, ahead of the New Orleans Saints. Next week, Minnesota will head out west again to play the San Francisco 49ers, and the Packers will go back to Lambeau to face off with the Los Angeles Rams.