Vikings Give Up Big Lead, Tie Packers 26-26
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The boos came down from the Lambeau Field stands after Greg Jennings made his first catch on his old home field as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.
Sunday’s game with the Packers turned out to be memorable for Jennings for a much different reason.
Minnesota let a 16-point lead early in the fourth quarter slip away, and the Vikings and Green Bay could muster only field goals in overtime Sunday to settle for a 26-26 tie.
“It’s not a loss, but to share the sentiments that coach (Leslie) Frazier said, ‘It’s kind of bittersweet,'” Jennings said. “It’s tough, but that’s the game of football.”
Elsewhere in the Vikings locker room, feelings were different. One player held tightly to a hot cup of coffee to warm up following a game that started with temperatures in the upper teens.
“I view it as a loss, personally. We gave up a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter,” defensive end Jared Allen said. “I don’t have a sister, but I’m going to say it’s like going to prom with your sister.”
Backup quarterback Matt Flynn threw for 218 yards to help the Packers storm back from a 23-7 deficit.
Mason Crosby hit from 20 yards at 10:28 of the extra period and Blair Walsh connected from 35 with 3:54 left.
Jennings dropped a third-down pass with 2:11 left. The Packers (5-5-1) also stumbled on their next possession.
One last chance for the Vikings (2-8-1) went nowhere with 1 second left, and the teams walked off with the first tie in the NFL since the Rams and 49ers ended 24-24 on Nov. 11, 2012.
“It’s an empty feeling. You go out there and didn’t lose the game,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “But you feel like you didn’t accomplish what you set out to do.”
At least the 77,000-plus frigid fans got to witness a bit of history — this was the first game to end in a tie under the new overtime rule instituted that continues the extra period if both teams open it with field goals. A touchdown by either team would have ended the game.
Jacksonville and Houston both kicked field goals to open OT in a game on Nov. 18, 2012, then the Texans won it with a touchdown.
Adrian Peterson had 146 yards and a score on 32 carries. He and Toby Gerhart (91 yards on eight carries) dented the Packers’ worn defense in overtime, but could not get in the end zone.
Flynn, inserted in the second half for the ineffective Scott Tolzien, caught a break in overtime after a third-down sack was called off by a holding penalty on Vikings safety Robert Blanton.
Flynn followed with three long completions, including a 34-yarder to the leaping Jarrett Boykin to the 7. Two runs by Eddie Lacy (110 yards on 25 carries) got the Packers to the 2, but Flynn misfired on third down to set up Crosby’s kick.
That was it for the scoring. The fans bundled up in parkas and knit caps to brave temperatures in the upper teens had to settle for a draw.
“We came here to win this game, believing we were going to win this game, so to walk off the field without a win … It’s just a weird feeling,” Frazier said.
The Packers remain winless since Aaron Rodgers went down with a left collarbone injury on Nov. 4 against the Bears.
Still, it could have been worse and Green Bay could have been tagged with a loss. Things looked bleak for the Packers early in the fourth quarter after Walsh’s 29-yard field gave Minnesota 23-7 lead.
Up to that point, Christian Ponder was the best quarterback on the field. He connected with Rhett Ellison for a 12-yard touchdown pass that helped give the Vikings build their big lead.
After one empty series to get his bearings, Flynn rallied.
Needing a break, the Packers got a big one after defensive end Everson Griffin was whistled for offside to give Flynn a free play on fourth down. Flynn delivered a 28-yard throw that James Jones caught to the Vikings 12. It set up Crosby’s 27-yard field goal with 50 seconds left to tie the game at 23.
For a time, Ponder looked like Rodgers in handling the Packers in regulation and finishing 21 of 30 for 233 yards. Maybe the quarterback carousel has finally come to a halt in Minnesota.
“I don’t know any reason why he wouldn’t” start next week against the Bears, Frazier said.
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