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Minnesota (4-4) was held to a season-low 238 yards despite playing a San Francisco team which ranked second-to-last in the NFL in total defense. The Vikings’ season low had been 284 yards, set against New England.
They’ve committed seven turnovers—six by Johnson—and given up seven sacks over those two games.
After being benched late in the loss the Patriots, Johnson completed 21 of 31 passes versus the 49ers but had only 136 yards passing—failing to crack 200 for a third straight game—while fumbling twice and getting intercepted once.
“You’re going to have bad games and how you deal with them and how you recover is the key to your team,” Johnson said. “Everyone in the league right now probably has some gripes. The biggest thing is that you keep them in the locker room and deal with the issues and get better throughout the course of the season and find ways to win ballgames.
“We’re 4-4, and we’re still in a good position as crazy as it sounds, and that’s the positive about it.”
The Vikings made only one trip inside the red zone last Sunday. Even when they have gotten there, they haven’t done well, ranking last in the league with a 22.2 percent rate of scoring touchdowns on trips inside their opponent’s 20-yard line.
“I’m not going to change myself out and change the offense,” first-year coach Brad Childress said. “Does it mean playing time changes? It could, but again, I refuse to just pile it at one person’s feet and say this is that person’s problem.”
The offensive struggles are even more frustrating for the defense, which is first in the NFL against the run (69.0 yards per game) and second in the NFC behind the Chicago Bears in points allowed (16.9 per game).
The discrepancy between the units may be wearing on some of the Vikings defensive players.
“We all understand this is a team game,” cornerback Antoine Winfield said. “We need them just as well as they need us. We can’t win games without them, but something has to give.”
Sunday’s game will reunite Minnesota kicker Ryan Longwell with his former team. Longwell, who is 14-of-17 in field-goal attempts this year, was the Packers kicker from 1997-2005 before he signed as a free agent with the Vikings.
Longwell made plenty of clutch kicks following late drives by Brett Favre, but it was the man he replaced—Paul Edinger—who made game-winning field goals as time expired to lift the Vikings to victory in both meetings last season. It was the first time Minnesota swept the season series with Green Bay since 1998.
Favre seemed to be getting the Packers (3-5) on the right track with back-to-back wins to close October, but the team opened this month with a 24-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Green Bay outgained Buffalo 427-184 and had 15 more first downs, but again was undone by costly turnovers. Favre went 28-of-47 for 287 yards and one touchdown, but threw two interceptions and was involved in two fumbles on botched snaps from center Scott Wells.
“We started feeling pretty good about ourselves after winning two games in a row,” Favre said. “And when things are kind of going your way for the most part and then something like this happens, it’s kind of a reality check.
“I think it puts things back in perspective of how good, or not good, we are—myself included. I’m as much to blame as anyone for the lack of production in those situations.
Green Bay is 0-4 this season when Favre throws an interception, 3-1 when he doesn’t.
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