EditorsNote: Edit 1: Added first reference for Aaron Jones in fourth graf
In what was practically an elimination game for the NFC playoff race, the Minnesota Vikings dominated the Green Bay Packers en route to a 24-17 win Sunday night at Minneapolis.
Kirk Cousins completed 29 of 38 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns as the Vikings (6-4-1) moved into the NFC’s top wild-card position. Adam Thielen tortured the Packers (4-6-1) for eight receptions, 125 yards and one touchdown.
With injuries galore, the Packers needed a big game from Aaron Rodgers. Instead, the quarterback was 17 of 28 for 198 yards and one touchdown. After scoring touchdowns on back-to-back drives in the first half, the Packers managed only four first downs on their next six drives. Green Bay fell to 0-6 on the road, including losses at the Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota in the past five weeks.
The Vikings’ defense made the game’s critical play midway through the third quarter when the score was 14-14. With Green Bay in possession at its 44-yard line and needing to gain a foot on fourth down, Packers coach Mike McCarthy kept the offense on the field. Minnesota defensive end Danielle Hunter and safety Harrison Smith then stuffed running back Aaron Jones at the line of scrimmage.
Dan Bailey’s 37-yard field goal on the subsequent drive gave Minnesota its first lead, 17-14.
On the ensuing possession, the Packers were without injured left tackle David Bakhtiari, left guard Lane Taylor and receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, who was starting for injured veteran Randall Cobb. On third-and-12, Sheldon Richardson sacked Rodgers. A big punt return by Marcus Sherels gave Minnesota the ball at Green Bay’s 31.
Four plays later, the Vikings were in the end zone. Cousins booted to his right and threw the ball to Thielen, who stepped through one tackle and pinballed between two more defenders for a 14-yard touchdown that made it 24-14.
The Packers finally got something going late in the fourth quarter. A 25-yard completion to tight end Jimmy Graham and a 36-yard completion to receiver Davante Adams had Green Bay in good position. However, on third-and-1, Rodgers overthrew Adams for what should have been a 20-yard touchdown. Mason Crosby’s 38-yard field goal pulled Green Bay within 24-17 with 2:20 to play.
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph recovered the onside kick and Cousins hit Stefon Diggs for the clinching third-down conversion.
Despite the Vikings doubling up the Packers in total yardage (280-139) and Cousins ripping the Packers’ depleted secondary for 254 passing yards, the game was tied 14-14 at halftime. Bailey’s two missed field-goal attempts, including a 56-yarder on the final play of the half, prolonged a stalemate that began with the 29-29 tie between the teams at Lambeau Field in Week 2.
—Field Level Media