My sister Judy from Vanouver, Washington made the trip for today's game. I don't see her but once or twice a year so when we got together outside Lambeau before the game I naturally gave her a kiss.
Little did I realize.
The Packers and Vikings dueled to a 26-26 overtime draw on the coldest November day for a game in 16 years, the same length of time Green Bay last played to a tie. That was in 1987 at Milwaukee County Stadium against the Denver Broncos, a 17-17 tally that was the final game played before the players' strike. The Packers also battled to a 20-20 tie against the old Baltimore Colts in December of 1982, after they came back from a 9 week player's strike that year. Maybe picket signs should go up outside Lambeau for the final two home games this season because there should be plenty of rancor after failing to win at home for a third straight time, against a 2-8 Minnesota club to boot. It was a strange day indeed.
Scott Tolzien started for the second straight week and he had a crazy 6 yard scramble for a first quarter touchdown that put the Pack on top. His game went south from there and after a three and out series to start the second half, was pulled in favor of Matt Flynn, re-signed by the team less than two weeks ago. After falling behind 23-7, Flynn rallied the offense, throwing for 216 yards and a score to Jarrett Boykin. Eddie Lacy pounded out 110 yards with a score despite having to leave the game in the second half when his cold weather fueled asthma kicked in. Flynn generated 19 consecutive points that gave Green Bay the lead in overtime. Winning the OT toss, the Packers marched 77 yards for a Mason Crosby field goal. They had it first and goal at the 6 but two Lacy runs produced four yards and a third down pass to Jordy Nelson in the corner of the end zone sailed high. With the new OT rules, scoring only a field goal on the first possession, allowed the Vikings to get a shot. They took advantage with a punishing ground game. Adrian Peterson converted a third and 9 with a 15 yard run from his 21. He would finish with 146 yards on a whopping 32 carries. But it was Toby Gerhart who really hurt the Pack. He gashed the defense for 91 yards on only 8 carries, an 11.4 yard average, gaining 12 and 11 yards on back to back carries that led to a 35 yard Blair Walsh field goal with only 3:49 left in OT. Green Bay would get the ball twice, the first series went three and out, the defense finally forced a punt with 1:59 to play but the Packers committed two false start penalties and were caught holding, leaving Mike McCarthy holding the bag with a 26 all final and a 5-5-1 record.
Tolzien completed just 7 of 15 attempts for 98 yards and was sacked twice. Flynn, under pressure much of the day himself, completed 21 of 36. James Jones caught 7 balls for 80 yards, Lacy had six checkdowns and Boykin had 5 receptions for 60 yards and the 6 yard TD. After managing just 13 points in two of the last three losses, the offense, even with yet another new signal caller, wasn't the issue. Again, it was the Green Bay defense that failed to find a consistently passable level of play. At times, plays were made, evidenced by the half dozen sacks of Christian Ponder. But he still found enough time to hit 21 of 30 throws for 233 yards and had the dominating running game to help them control the clock for 40 minutes plus. He produced 17 points on three out of four drives sandwiched around intermission that gave Minnesota what looked like an insurmountable lead. Flynn answered with three straight scoring drives in the 4th. After Lacy's TD, the Packers tried for two but Flynn was intercepted. Green Bay pulled to within 3 with 3:30 left on Boykin's score which capped a 76 yard drive. Driving for the win, Jones hauled in a 28 yard pass to the Minnesota 12 with 70 seconds left in regulation. A third and 10 slant to Boykin gained only 3 and Crosby added another field goal with :46 remaining. Flynn was ready to sieze the hero role on the OT drive but the defense just wasn't up to it. Here's what was heard in the locker room afterwards.
Some final numbers, Green Bay outgained Minnesota 494-447, but they converted just 3 of 16 third downs. Only three for five in the red zone hurt again. Two players suffered injuries, Johnathan Franklin left with a concussion, C.J. Wilson injured a knee and didn't return. The Green Bay inactives were Aaron Rodgers, Chris Harper, Sam Shields, Nate Palmer, Nick Perry, Don Barclay and Johnny Jolly.
Sean Richardson and Jerel Worthy both saw their first action of the year after getting activated off the PUP list Saturday.
The Packers-Vikings series is now 56-49 and 2. These teams played to a 10-10 tie in 1978. With the Lions losing to Tampa Bay and the Bears falling in St. Louis, the NFC North looks like this.
Detroit 6-5, Chicago 6-5, Green Bay 5-5-1 and Minnesota 2-8-1. The forgettable month of November has one last challenge, Thanksgiving at Ford Field. Nothing against my sis Judy, but I hope she stays home for the holiday.