By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings surrendered 16 straight fourth quarter points that allowed the Green Bay Packers to tie the game. The two teams traded field goals in overtime to force a 26-26 final at Lambeau Field.
Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart combined to run for 237 yards with very little resistance from the Packers defense. The two running backs were able to get through big holes and break arm tackles throughout the game.
Peterson ran for a touchdown and Christian Ponder tossed a scoring pass to Rhett Ellison while Blair Walsh kicked three field goals as the Vikings rattled off 23 straight points. The scoring spree began late in the first quarter and continued into the fourth.
Matt Flynn replaced Scott Tolzien in the second half and led the Packers on two scoring drives in the final four minutes to get to overtime.
Once in overtime, the Packers benefited from a defensive holding penalty on third down that kept the team’s only scoring drive alive.
The Vikings (2-8-1) are trying to be the spoiler the rest of the season with the playoffs nearly impossible to reach. The Packers (5-5-1) had an opportunity to draw even for the NFC North division lead with the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears both losing.
Offense Grade: B
The Vikings offense was very good for most of the game, but failed to do much of anything in the fourth quarter when it had a chance to put the game away.
After taking a 16-point lead on the second play of the fourth quarter, the Vikings managed just 34 yards and one first down over three drives after the Packers got their second touchdown. Also, it took only four minutes and 22 seconds off the clock. That is the bad news.
There were a lot of good things for the Vikings. Cordarrelle Patterson was more involved in the offense with a team-high eight catches and 11 targets.
The offensive line gave Peterson and Gerhart some huge holes to run through and they broke tackles in the hole.
Defense Grade: B+
Audie Cole made his first career start and made the most of it. He finished the game with a game-high 13 tackles. He also had one sack, two tackles for a loss and three quarterback hits.
Cole was not the only the player on the Vikings that stepped their game up. Defensive end Brian Robison was constantly in the backfield. He forced several bad throws, knocked some down, recorded one sack, one tackle for a loss and two quarterback hits.
Prior to getting into a rhythm in the fourth quarter, the Packers had just two drives of 20 yards or more and four three-and-out series.
All-in-all it was a good game from the Vikings defense, but another fourth quarter collapse mars what it did in the middle quarters.
Quarterback Grade: B
Christian Ponder bounced back from last week’s second half performance to give the Vikings a very good chance to win the game.
Early in the game, he showed his usual tentative and unaware of the rush self in the pocket. However, he played really well to lead the team on its charge through the end of the first quarter through the beginning of the fourth.
Ponder finished the game with 233 passing yards and one touchdown on 21-of-30 pass completions.
Special Teams Grade: A-
The special teams units were very good. The only miscue was Marcus Sherels’ muffed punt, which he was able to easily recover.
Patterson averaged 31.5 yards per kick return and Jeff Locke averaged 42.8 yards per punt and limited Micah Hyde to just 2.7 yards per punt return.
The special teams star, however, was Blair Walsh. The second-year kicker connected on all four field goal attempts and both extra point tries in the cold and windy weather.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.