I always expected this column to read: Why The Vikings Won/Lost. Never did I anticipate a tie, but that’s exactly what happened in Lambeau Field on Sunday after a rollercoaster of a game. Obviously, there were four crucial missed kicks (three by the Vikings and one by the Packers) that led to the tie, and I could easily choose five plays in overtime alone, but let’s look deeper at how we got to those kicks and what forced overtime in this game.
1- 1st Quarter, 7:28 – Mike Hughes Kick Return
Score: 7-0 GB
Field Position: Kick return
Result of Drive: Laquon Treadwell TD
Synopsis: After the blocked punt touchdown by Green Bay, Minnesota immediately responded when Mike Hughes took a kickoff to MIN 43.
Because of This Play: This was early in a game that had many twists and turns, but it’s importance cannot be overlooked. This was an important drive for the Vikings to get points since they just gifted seven points to an Aaron Rodgers-led team. Hughes responded immediately, and Kirk Cousins proceeded to march the team down the field in a vital drive for the Vikings to score after gifting 7 points on the blocked punt.
2- 1st Quarter, 2:14 – Rodgers Scramble on 3rd and 7
Field Position: 3rd and 7 at GB 28
Result of Drive: Davante Adams TD
Synopsis: On the Packers sole offensive touchdown drive, Aaron Rodgers managed to use his legs. Not accounting for any form of mobility, the Vikings let Rodgers scramble for seven yards and keep the drive alive.
Because of This Play: This was an impressive play by the hobbled Rodgers that put the Vikings in their early hole. Overall, the defense did a great job of bending and not breaking, but this was the one that got away. A defensive stand on this play and we could have seen a team with a chance to win later in the game, rather than tie. Later in the drive, Mackenzie Alexander had a holding penalty on 3rd and 2? Which gave the Packers another first-down.
3- Roughing the Passers
I’m cheating and going out of order by clumping these together because there are too many plays for me to pick. Both plays were domino effects that led to points. The irony in these disappointing calls is that this rule was a result of Aaron Rodgers injury last year.
#1 –2nd Quarter, 1:37- Eric Kendricks
Score: 14-7 GB
Field Position: 1st and 10 at GB 38
Result of Drive: Mason Crosby FG
Synopsis: After a missed field goal by former? Viking Daniel Carlson, the Vikings followed up with a questionable roughing the passer calls that set the Packers up in Field Goal range. Rather than going into the half down 14-10, they went in down 17-7 forcing them to play from behind the rest of the game.
#2 – 4th Quarter, 1:45 – Clay Matthews
Score: 29-21 GB
Field Position: 1st and 10 at MIN 25
Synopsis: This one is easy. On a play that resulted in an interception, Clay Matthews was called for roughing the passer in a similar fashion to Eric Kendricks. The game would have been over if a flag stayed in the referee’s pocket, and we’d be talking about a loss. The ref bailed out the Vikings on a questionable play call by DeFilippo and decision by Cousins, trying to throw a bomb to Stacey Coley on 1st and 10.
4- 4th Quarter, 2:00 – Eric Kendricks and Davante Adams Battle in the End Zone
Score: 26-21 GB
Field Position: 2nd and 10 at MIN 13
Result of Drive: Mason Crosby FG
Synopsis: After the two-minute warning, Green Bay elected to go for the knock-out punch rather than run the clock down. Rodgers threw a pass to Adams, who was running across the middle of the end zone. He appeared to initially have it as he slid to the ground, but the ball was barely jarred loose by Kendricks and it fell incomplete.
Because of This Play: The Vikings defense needs some credit for standing tall after the Cousins Treadwell interception. A first-down, let alone a touchdown, and the game is over. Adams had a strong day, including a touchdown of his own, but Kendricks won this play, keeping the Vikings afloat.
5- 4th Quarter, 0:31 – Cousins hits Diggs for the 2-Point Conversion
Score: 29-27 GB
Field Position: 2-point conversion, at GB 2
Result of Drive: Conversion successful
Synopsis: This play is being overlooked. After Adam Thielen’s incredible touchdown, the Vikings work was not done, needing the two-point conversion to tie the game. John DeFilippo dialed up a seemingly low-percentage play, calling a fade route to Stefon Diggs. Cousins floated a perfect pass to Diggs in the back of the end zone, on arguably his best throw of the day.
Because of This Play: There were a ton of huge plays to pick from here. The touchdowns are obvious though. Diggs 75-yarder and Thielen’s prior to this play were in the running, but all of that is for nothing without this conversion. I hated this play call, but you can’t argue with results, and the Cousins/Diggs connection here was responsible for overtime.
6- *Bonus OT plays*–Overtime, 5:17 – Rodgers Fumble/Mackenzie Alexander Sack
Field Position: 2nd and 1 at MIN 37
Result of Drive: Punt
Synopsis: After Daniel Carlson missed his 2nd FG, the Packers took over at their own 39 and needed approximately 25-yards to give Mason Crosby a shot. Lost in the madness was the Vikings defense standing tall to get the ball back to the offense.
Play #1 – Rodgers botches the hand off in what appeared to be a read option, to move the Packers back out of field goal range in a difficult 3rd down situation.
Play #2 – The ensuing play, the Vikings sent a blitz after Rodgers, and Mackenzie Alexander got through, forced a punt, and gave the ball back to the offense.
Because of This Play: The Vikings were able to drive back down the field, and Kirk Cousins made some pretty passes to make sure they had the last possession, never giving Rodgers another shot. Once the Vikings started with the ball, the last thing they wanted to do was give the ball to Rodgers. Once they did, kudos to Mike Zimmer and the defense for standing tall.