Vikings, Packers settle for 26-26 tie
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers’ quarterback carousel continued. Might it wind up with Aaron Rodgers returning from a broken collarbone and starting a must-win game at Detroit on Thanksgiving?
“I have no idea,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after a 26-26 tie against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
The Packers have used four quarterbacks in the past four games, with Matt Flynn replacing ineffective Scott Tolzien in the third quarter. Flynn led the Packers to two touchdowns and a field goal on three consecutive possessions to force overtime. The teams traded field goals in the extra period.
The tie didn’t leave either team feeling happy. The Packers (5-5-1) missed out on a chance to tie for first place in the NFC North following Detroit’s home loss to Tampa Bay and Chicago’s loss at St. Louis.
The Lions and Bears are 6-5.
“We’re looking for wins around here. We’re in the business of winning,” Packers cornerback Tramon Williams said. “We didn’t lose. That’s about the only thing we can get out of it. We’re still in the hunt; we’ve always felt that way. Our destiny’s still ahead of us. We’re going to keep pushing and hopefully everything turns around.”
The Vikings (2-8-1) were led by running back Adrian Peterson’s 146 rushing yards. Toby Gerhart added 91 as the Vikings piled up 232 rushing yards.
“We shouldn’t have ties in football. It sucks,” Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said. “The game should keep going like in college, sudden death. They should have another 5 (minutes) on there.”
The Packers were 5-2 when Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone against Chicago on Nov. 4. Seneca Wallace played the rest of that game and started the Nov. 11 loss against Philadelphia but was injured after one series. Tolzien played the rest of that game, started the Nov. 18 loss at the Giants and again on Sunday.
Tolzien, however, was pulled in the third quarter with the Packers trailing 20-7. Minnesota increased the margin to 23-7 before Flynn’s rally.
“I think there were some good things done by the offense,” said Flynn, who completed 21 of 36 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown. “Obviously, I’m proud of the guys, the way we fought back and were able to come back and push it into overtime.
“I don’t know how we’re supposed to feel about (the tie). I think we’re all disappointed. We needed that win and we all know it, but things aren’t over.”
Green Bay won the overtime toss and looked headed to a three-and-out punt when Flynn was sacked on third-and-9 but safety Robert Blanton was flagged for holding. One play later, Flynn hit wide receiver Jordy Nelson for 15. Flynn then went deep to wide receiver Jarrett Boykin, who made a leaping catch against cornerback Chris Cook for 34 to the Vikings’ 7.
The Packers settled for a field goal in overtime, however, when running back Eddie Lacy gained five yards on two carries and Flynn couldn’t hit Nelson in the end zone against Blanton. Mason Crosby’s 20-yard field goal gave Green Bay a 26-23 lead.
Minnesota’s defensive stand meant its offense would get a chance. On third-and-9, Peterson ran for 15. From their 49, quarterback Christian Ponder hit tight end John Carlson for 10 on a bootleg and Gerhart ran for 12 on 11 to the Packers’ 13.
Outside linebacker Mike Neal stuffed Peterson’s second-down run for a loss of 5. On third-and-14, Ponder threw the ball over cornerback Davon House to wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. House got a finger on the ball and Patterson bobbled the ball and caught ball well out of bounds. Blair Walsh kicked a 38-yard field goal to tie the game with 3:49 to play on overtime.
“I have never been part of a tie. It is really weird,” Gerhart said. “We played hard but we didn’t get the win (but) we didn’t lose. It is a weird kind of limbo feeling right now. Offensively, we drove the ball pretty well. We just have to score when we get in the red zone. We are going to kick ourselves for that.”
After the Walsh field goal, Green Bay then went three-and-out. Middle linebacker Audie Cole got pressure on a pair of blitzes, including leveling Flynn on third-and-9. The Vikings couldn’t do anything, either, with wide receiver Greg Jennings unable to haul in Ponder’s third-and-5 pass.
That gave the Packers the ball at their 10 with 1:59 to go but three penalties doomed any chance at winning the game.
Flynn rallied the Packers with back-to-back touchdowns to get within 23-20 with 3:30 remaining in regulation, and Green Bay’s defense forced a three-and-out after Neal’s third-down sack with 2:37 to play.
Starting at the 31-yard line with 2:27 remaining, Flynn hit Jones for 9 and Lacy for 16 to the Vikings’ 44 with 1:55 to go. On third-and-6 from the 40, defensive end Brian Robison beat right tackle Marshall Newhouse and hit Flynn to force an incompletion.
On fourth down, Flynn coaxed the Vikings offside and floated a ball as he got hit by Cole. The ball fluttered down to Jones at the 14 in front of cornerback Marcus Sherels, and he got tackled at the 12.
The Vikings’ defense, however, stiffened. They stuffed Lacy on first down, defensive tackle Letroy Guion batted down Flynn’s pass on second down and a third-down pass to Boykin gained just 3. Crosby hit a 26-yard field goal to tie the game at 23 with 46 seconds remaining.
The Vikings got one first down on the ensuing possession but the drive stalled and the game went to overtime.
The Vikings fell behind 7-0 but scored 23 consecutive points to seize control. They did it behind Peterson, who broke 100 rushing yards for the 41st time in 100 career games, and a strong defensive performance that frustrated Tolzien.
Minnesota took a 20-7 lead midway through the third quarter when Ponder hit fullback Rhett Ellison in the flat for an easy 12-yard touchdown.
NOTES: The Packers had five starters among their inactives — QB Aaron Rodgers, CB Sam Shields, OLB Nick Perry, RT Don Barclay and DE Johnny Jolly. The Vikings had three — CB Josh Robinson, MLB Erin Henderson and TE Kyle Rudolph). ... Peterson’s first-half touchdown was the 86th rushing score of his career, tying Priest Holmes for 14th all-time. Peterson has had 10-plus rushing touchdowns in each of his seven seasons. ... This was Peterson’s 100th career game. He has 9.846 career rushing yards, third-most in NFL history behind Jim Brown and Barry Sanders. ... Patterson, who returned a kickoff for a 109-yard touchdown in the teams’ first matchup, returned one for 57 yards to set up Minnesota’s first points. ... Former Packers WR Greg Jennings was shut out until a 21-yard reception with about 9:30 left in the third quarter that set up a touchdown. He finished with two catches for 29 yards. ... It was Green Bay’s first tie since 1987, a 17-17 draw back when the Packers played a couple games each season in Milwaukee.