Vikings defense at their dominant best in Packers shutout
GREEN BAY, Wis. — As the saying goes, defense wins championships.
The Minnesota Vikings want to ride their defense right to the top seed in the NFC.
For the first time in 24 years — and 18 days, to be exact — Minnesota pitched a shutout in its 16-0 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Saturday night.
"Came and played hard, stood up when we needed to," Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr said. "Happy we got the shutout."
For Vikings defensive end Brian Robison, just getting the win was all the team set out to accomplish.
"But for us to get a shutout going into the last week of the season, that's huge for us," Robison said.
The Vikings' defense had last secured a goose egg on Dec. 5, 1993, beating the Detroit Lions 13-0 at the Pontiac Silverdome. The defensive coordinator that day for the Vikings? Tony Dungy.
Granted, Green Bay sat some of its main offensive weapons: quarterback Aaron Rodgers and leading receiver Davante Adams both didn't suit up. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson was pulled in the second quarter with a shoulder injury and didn't return.
But a shutout is a shutout.
Minnesota allowed 239 yards, but Green Bay entered Vikings territory just three times. In the Packers' two chances in the red zone, safety Harrison Smith corralled an interception at the 5-yard line and the Vikings defense stopped a fourth-down pass for a turnover on downs.
The Packers had six punts, four turnovers on downs and two interceptions. Not a bad day's work for the Vikings defense.
"We just went out there and did our jobs, nothing too big," defensive end Danielle Hunter said. "Focused on what we needed to do, each of our techniques."
Green Bay finished a combined 4 for 19 on third- and fourth-down opportunities. When the Packers were looking to extend a series, the Vikings came up clutch, stopping all four fourth-down tries.
"We emphasize that a lot, third- and fourth-down defense, and we were able to execute that pretty well today," Barr said.
The Vikings held backup quarterback Brett Hundley to 17-for-40 passing, 130 yards, two interceptions and a career-low 30.2 passing rating.
The key for the Vikings was stopping Hundley from creating too much out of the pocket. The defense hoped to contain Hundley, but he got outside for a few big runs and finished with 48 yards on the ground.
"We knew he was going to run the ball," Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. "Once his first read or second read wasn't there, he was going to take off. He wasn't going to take any chance to try to create any more turnovers. We just tried to make him more of a pocket passer and throw the ball rather than use his feet."
The Vikings played strong defensively all game, but upped the intensity in the fourth quarter knowing a shutout was on the line.
"I don't think we really realized it until the last drive, now if we stop them there we'll get a shutout," Barr said. "But that wasn't in our mind-set the whole game."