Minnesota 20, Green Bay 17
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP)—The Minnesota Vikings’ offense awoke just in time to tear out the Packers’ hearts as time expired—again.
This kick was a tad easier.
A month after hitting a team-record 56-yarder to beat Green Bay at the Metrodome, Paul Edinger did it again from 27 yards Monday night to sink the Packers with a 20-17 victory that keeps Minnesota’s season afloat.
Missing an injured Daunte Culpepper, rocked by lewd allegations from a boating trip and given up for dead a month ago, Minnesota is now 5-5 and still in the hunt for the playoffs after winning three in a row.
As for the Packers, their season is all but over after their division rival swept them for the first time since 1998.
“This one may be the worst because No. 1, it was Minnesota; No. 2, it was at home; and No. 3, it was Minnesota again,” said Green Bay defensive end Aaron Kampman.
Minnesota has struggled mightily on offense since Culpepper was lost for the season with a knee injury, mustering just 137 yards last week in an unlikely win over the Giants. But they put together a strong showing behind Brad Johnson’s 196 yards and running back Mewelde Moore, who had 122 yards on 22 carries.
The 37-year-old Johnson set up Edinger’s kick with a nine-play, 58-yard drive in the final 3 minutes and three seconds after Green Bay tied it at 17.
“You can’t get frustrated,” said Johnson, who was 18-of-30. “Tonight we made the drives when we had to, especially in the second half. … You just have to be patient and do what you’ve done in practice.”
Minnesota coach Mike Tice shuffled his offensive line this week hoping to inject some life into the offense, starting 380-plus-pound Toniu Fonoti at left guard and Cory Withrow at center. It worked, for the most part.
Johnson was sacked five times, fumbling twice, and Minnesota couldn’t muster much offense in the first half. But just like last week—when the Vikings returned a punt, kickoff and interception for touchdowns—they found another way.
With Green Bay driving, Dovonte Edwards intercepted Brett Favre’s pass and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown with a little more than a minute left in the first half.
“It was exciting,” Edwards said. “I had a dream actually last night that I would do something big today and it came true. Mike Tice said you need to dream, dream about making plays and that’s what I did last night and it happened for me tonight.”
The play was reviewed after Edwards and intended receiver Andrae Thurman crashed to the ground at the same time. But officials ruled Edwards was not down by contact before he got up and scored.
Favre atoned for the mistake seconds later, hitting Donald Driver for a 53-yard touchdown pass after the receiver beat cornerback Antoine Winfield and outran former Packers safety Darren Sharper. Green Bay led 14-7 at the half.
It was the second half when Minnesota’s offense came alive.
The Packers couldn’t capitalize on Johnson’s fumble early in the third quarter and were forced to punt, pinning the Vikings at their own 12. Minnesota then put together its best drive of the game, aided by two defensive penalties inside the Green Bay 10-yard line.
The second, a pass interference call in the end zone, put the ball at the 1-yard line. Ciatrick Fason plunged into the end zone on his second attempt— Minnesota’s first offensive touchdown in nine quarters.
The win puts the Vikings at .500 for the first time this season and keeps them in the postseason hunt, two games behind NFC North leader Chicago (7-3).
Meanwhile, the loss puts the Packers (2-8) on the verge of ending an impressive streak—they haven’t had a losing season since Favre took over as starter in 1992, a run of 13 years that’s best in the league. They have to win out to avoid snapping that run, an unlikely task with Chicago (twice) and Seattle (8-2) left on the schedule.
Favre finished the game 20-for-33 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. He declined to speak to the media following the game, a rarity for the 14-year veteran.
Favre has worked without a running game much of the season, and Monday night was no different.
Samkon Gado was last week’s feel good story of the NFL after the Nigerian immigrant rushed for 103 yards and scored three touchdowns in the Packers’ win over Atlanta. But the rookie looked like a one-game wonder Monday.
“I hadn’t heard about that running back before last week, and I told the guys I didn’t want to hear about him again after tonight,” Tice said.
Gado caught a nice pass for 30 yards—his career long—on Green Bay’s first scoring drive. But his first 10 rushes netted just nine yards, he dropped a pass late in the second quarter while wide open and fumbled early in the third deep in Packers’ territory.
Tony Fisher replaced him on the next drive, but the Packers were held to 21 yards rushing. The Vikings held Green Bay to a then-season-low 45 yards rushing the last time the two met. ^NOTES: … Driver’s touchdown catch in the first quarter gave him 58 straight games with a reception, tied for third in Packer history. Sterling Sharpe is No. 1 with 103. … Moore set a season high rushing with 122 yards. … Green Bay fullback William Henderson notched the 300th catch of his career. … The past seven regular season games between the two teams have been decided by five points or less.