By Eric Goska
|Lambeau Field hours before the Packers and Vikings renewed their rivalry there.|
Being a frontrunner is not for the easily rattled.
If they didn’t figure it out Sunday, the Packers will in the days ahead: the team out front always draws fire.
Matt LaFleur’s regular-season debut at Lambeau Field was notable for a number of reasons. In addition to knocking off a division rival,
Green Bay accomplished
two other feats worthy of mention.
One was a rarity. The other was a first in this long-standing series that dates to 1961.
This type of opening was what the experts had said the Packers needed to do in order to win: get a lead early and force
to abandon its
formidable running game. Minnesota
|Bart Starr was honored by the Packers at halftime.|
But Mike Zimmer’s Vikings refused to back down. Instead of folding,
spent the better part of three quarters chipping away at the Packers’ advantage
before running out of time.
In a turnabout from the opener, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense clicked. Instead of minus-12 yards as it earned in
Chicago, the unit posted 167 first-quarter yards against
The Packers used 19 plays to travel 75, 63 and 33 yards their first three times out. Thirteen of the plays gained six or more yards.
Rodgers was nearly perfect, completing 10 of 11 passes for 141 yards. He connected with running back Jamaal Williams and receiver Geronimo Allison on touchdown passes.
Aaron Jones plowed in from two yards out for the third score as
went up 21-0 with just 44 seconds elapsed in the second quarter.
The Packers had twice before scored touchdowns on their first two drives against the Vikings. Paul Hornung and Ron Kramer did it in a 28-10 win in 1961. Elijah Pitts and Jim Taylor got there in a 28-16 triumph in 1966.
But in those games, at least,
Minnesota ran a few plays while not trailing
on the scoreboard. Sunday, every time Garrett Bradbury centered the ball (60
offensive snaps), the Vikings were in arrears.
That’s a lot of time spent playing catch-up.
|Points! Points! Curly Lambeau always points!|
The Vikings found themselves in such a situation five times previously against the Packers. They lost each time.
Four of those contests occurred more than 35 years ago. The fifth was more recent, and it, too, was decided by five points.
On Dec. 17, 2000,
combined for more than 800 yards. The Packers got out front 10-0,
then withstood everything the Vikings threw at them. They escaped with a 33-28
Defensive end Danielle Hunter and defensive tackle Linval Joseph each sacked Rodgers once in the second half. Rodgers was twice forced to throw the ball away on a three-and-out drive late in the second quarter.
After gaining 176 yards in the opening 16 minutes,
Green Bay managed just
159 in the closing 44. Minnesota,
which picked up 53 yards in the first 16 minutes, helped itself to 368 down the
In the end, Cousins could not deliver. He completed four of eight fourth-quarter passes for 35 yards and one first down. His throw from the Packers’ 8-yard line with five minutes, 10 seconds to go was intercepted by cornerback Kevin King in the corner of the end zone.
Cousins’ last offering went to Adam Thielen who lateraled to Diggs. Diggs tried to do the same, but his effort hit the turf and was recovered by
That was the 60th and final play in
Minnesota’s futile attempt to catch the front-running
Behind the Eight Ball
The six regular-season Packers-Vikings games in which
Minnesota trailed on the
scoreboard every time it ran an offensive play.
Plays Yards Date Outcome
57 177 Sept. 16, 1962 GB 34, Vikings 7
51 306 Oct. 14, 1962 GB 48, Vikings 21
57 338 Oct. 13, 1963 GB 37, Vikings 28
68 347 Nov. 11, 1979 GB 19, Vikings 7
56 400 Dec. 17, 2000 GB 33, Vikings 28
60 421 Sept. 15, 2019 GB 21, Vikings 16