By: Craig D. Schroepfer

On November 22, the Minnesota Vikings had a chance to stake their claim to the NFC North with a win over the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings lost that game 30 — 13.

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Six weeks later, Minnesota had a chance once again to claim the NFC North.

This time they capitalized on the opportunity, beating Green Bay 20-13 to win their first NFC North title since 2009.

“It feels great,” Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway said after the game. “Winning the division is a great feeling. You get the shirt, you get the hat and you are on top of the north. I don’t know why we aren’t like baseball and popping champagne.”

Both teams traded field goals in the first half, with Minnesota leading 6 — 3 at halftime.

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The Vikings scored the first touchdown of the game at 10:37 of the third quarter when Adrian Peterson powered his way in for a three yard touchdown, giving Minnesota a 13-3 lead.

The Vikings took control of the game late in the third quarter when it looked like Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw an incomplete pass. Minnesota cornerback Captain Munnerlyn was quick to pick up the football and return it 55 yards for a touchdown, giving the Vikings a 20-3 lead.

“I never heard a whistle,” Munnerlyn said. “I just went and scooped up the ball. Guys did a great job of blocking the quarterback downfield. I slowed down and got into the end zone.”

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The Vikings defense frustrated Rodgers and the Packers all night, not allowing receivers to get open and holding Green Bay to only 76 yards rushing.

“It was big to slow down a high powered offense like Green Bay,” Munnerlyn said. “Going against one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, we knew it was going to be tough. We weren’t going to lay down at all. We fought and we got the victory.”

Green Bay would rally in the fourth quarter to cut the Vikings lead to 20-13.

With 2:18 to play in the game and the Packers on the Minnesota 13 yard line, Green Bay was in position to tie the game. That is until Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes intercepted Rodgers in the end zone.

“The key when we practice is to stay on our guys,” Rhodes said. “When he rolled out I was in the right place at the right time. When he threw the ball I located it and intercepted it.”

With the win, the Vikings finish 11-5 on the season. More importantly it shows the progress the team has made over the last two years under head coach Mike Zimmer.

“I’m proud of this football team,” Zimmer said. “We started out two years ago trying to build something special. These guys fight, they work hard, they do things right. They earned this opportunity.”

The next challenge won’t be any easier for Minnesota as they host the two-time defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks in a NFC Wild Card game next Sunday.

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But for now, the Vikings and their fans can rejoice and celebrate what they accomplished Sunday and that was to take the NFC North.