Guy N. Limbeck: Vikings fit to be tied
At least it wasn't a loss.
That's about the best thing the Minnesota Vikings can say about Sunday's 26-26 overtime tie in Green Bay against the Packers.
But who wants to tie the Packers? The last time these two teams tied was in 1978.
After losing 44-31 to the Packers in Minnesota a month ago, the Vikings appeared to be in strong position to win in Green Bay. This time there was no Aaron Rodgers to bail out the Packers.
But Green Bay did have Matt Flynn waiting in the wings and he was nearly enough.
After trailing 7-0 early, the Vikings scored 23 straight points. Christian Ponder was playing solid at quarterback while Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart were both gashing the Green Bay defense on the ground.
The way the game was going in the second half, the Packers seemed to have no chance. But the Vikings defense has a way of being as soft as oatmeal in the most crucial moments of a game.
The Vikings led 23-7 in the fourth quarter and the Green Bay offense had done very little in the second half. But Flynn, who had been cut earlier this season, replaced an ineffective Scott Tolzien and led the Packers to a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. The Vikings offense could have run out the clock in the final 3:30, leading by three, but had an awful possession.
Green Bay drove for the tying field goal in the last minute of regulation. That's been a familiar theme with the Vikings defense all year, as the team has lost three times in the final minute, but at least this time the defense did not allow a touchdown.
The same thing happened in overtime. The Packers had a first-and-goal and looked like they would win. Again the Vikings defense didn't break and the Packers settled for a field goal.
Under the new overtime rules, the Vikings got the ball because Green Bay didn't score a touchdown. The running game again clicked and Minnesota drove for the tying field goal.
Vikings had chances
The Vikings could have won. Cordarrelle Patterson caught a deflected pass on third down in the end zone, but he landed out of bounds. Patterson also dropped a deep pass late in regulation that might have sealed the victory.
That was how much of the second half went for the Vikings. They got some strong defensive play from rookie defensive back Xavier Rhodes, who was all over breaking up four passes, and nice production from middle linebacker Audie Cole. Cole was making his first career start and had just been re-signed after his release a few weeks ago. These are the type of players the Vikings need for some infusion of youth on the defense.
The downside had defensive back Robert Blanton committing a key defensive holding penalty that extended a drive in overtime and the front four being unable to apply pressure on Flynn late in regulation.
Former Packers receiver Greg Jennings dropped a pass on third down which would have extended a drive in overtime while Jarius Wright also had a big drop for the Vikings.
Adrian Peterson did rush for 146 yards and Toby Gerhart added 91 for the Vikings. And Ponder was solid, for the most part, going 21-for-30 for 233 yards and one touchdown. Patterson also saw his most extended action, catching eight passes, and returning one kickoff 57 yards.
It was a game that had a lot of positives for the Vikings, who are now 2-8-1. In the end it was nothing more than a tie, however. And with the tie the Packers (5-5-1) still gained a half-game on division leaders Detroit and Chicago, both 6-5.
For the Packers, the return of Rodgers can't come soon enough. Despite Ponder's game Sunday, many Vikings fans feel the same way about his departure.