On Sunday, Aaron Rodgers fought through a difficult left knee injury to give the Green Bay Packers a chance to win a crucial week two matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. In a tough game against the reigning division champs, the Packers got contributions from all portions of the team, including a huge touchdown from its special teams early, some solid defense through the middle of the contest, and a big interception late in the game from Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to help extend their lead.
However, a late touchdown and two-point conversion by Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins pulled the game even after a very questionable roughing the passer on Clay Matthews wiped out an interception by Jaire Alexander. If not for that call, the game would have effectively been over and gone down as a Packers victory. With another chance to win the game, Mason Crosby missed a 52-yard field goal (after hitting one just after a Vikings timeout), and the game went to overtime.
Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson missed a 49-yard attempt on the first drive of overtime, giving the Packers a chance to win with any points. The Packers couldn’t convert on the ensuing series, however, and the Vikings drove down for a 35-yard field goal attempt at the end of overtime. Carlson missed again, his third miss on the day, and the game went down in the standings as a tie.
Rodgers gutted out the pain of his knee injury and although he did not have exceptional numbers, he was very effective at times, particularly throwing to receivers over the middle. He finished the day 30-of-42 for 281 yards and a touchdown to Davante Adams, adding 11 rushing yards on two carries.
At times, it felt that the Packers were playing against two teams in this contest, however. They were on the wrong end of a handful of questionable penalty calls, most notably the penalty on Clay Matthews late in the game. The referees also were wholly inconsistent with their application of pass interference penalties, costing the Packers one big play on an OPI call and failing to call a few on the Vikings’ defense that looked clear on the television broadcast.
The Packers received the opening kickoff after the Vikings won the coin toss and deferred. Early on the first drive, Rodgers was getting the ball out of his hands quickly, with a few decent gains, but after a bad Davante Adams drop on first down, Rodgers took a sack and the Packers could not convert on third-and-long.
However, the Packers’ defense and special teams got off to a stellar start on the Vikings’ first series, led in particular by the rookie cornerbacks. After Jaire Alexander stopped a screen pass on second down and brought Kirk Cousins down for a sack on a slot blitz on third down, the special teams took the field to cover a punt by the Vikings’ Matt Wile. Geronimo Allison broke through the line, giving a full extension to get a hand on the punt, which dropped right into the arms of Josh Jackson in the end zone for a touchdown and the first points of the game.
A quick Vikings response brought the game back to even, however, with a long kickoff return by Mike Hughes setting up a Laquon Treadwell touchdown. Treadwell beat Kevin King on an inside move as the Vikings tied the game at seven.
Rodgers’ knee continued to bother him, but he showed some good mobility in and out of the pocket on the Packers’ next series as he led the Packers back into the lead. He converted an early third down on the ground, diving for a first down, then got some help from the running game and a holding penalty on Vikings cornerback Mackensie Alexander, which helped the Packers convert another third down. Finally, Rodgers hit Davante Adams on two straight plays, first for 13 yards and a first down and then for a 9-yard touchdown to take the lead back at 14-7. The offensive line was marvelous on the series, both keeping Rodgers clean and opening up big holes for Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery.
When the Packers’ offense did struggle in the first half, punter JK Scott was there to flip the field. Scott’s first punt in the first quarter was a great 44-yarder to pin the Vikings at their own seven-yard line, but his second was magnificent. That kick was a 63-yard bomb that pushed Vikings return man Marcus Sherels back from the 30 to inside the 20, where he made a fair catch at the 19-yard line. After a sequence of atrocious pass interference penalties that both went the Vikings’ way, Scott boomed a 59-yarder out of his own end late in the second quarter.
Late in the second quarter, the Vikings had a chance to narrow the lead after Scott’s third punt, which had a 13-yard return as Minnesota started near midfield, but a 48-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson sailed wide right, giving Rodgers 1:37 and no timeouts to work with before the half. A roughing the passer call on the first drive, a 9-yard pass to Ty Montgomery, and a 6-yard run by Monty set up the Packers in field goal range quickly. and Mason Crosby hit a 37-yard field goal for a 17-7 lead at the half.
To start the second half, the Packers’ defense picked up where it left off, despite the loss of Kevin King to a groin injury. Kenny Clark’s third-down sack of Cousins got the ball back over to Rodgers and company, and Aaron connected with Jimmy Graham early for a big 34-yard gain. That was Graham’s first big play as a Packer, and Rodgers followed that up with a conversion to Adams on third-and-11, with the Vikings adding another 15 yards on a hit to Adams’ head. Mason Crosby drilled a 40-yard field goal to extend the lead to 20-7.
Minnesota clawed back around the third-quarter break, however, as Cousins led a 71-yard drive to find the end zone. He hit Stefon Diggs for a short touchdown, pulling Minnesota back within six at 20-14.
The Packers responded well, however, picking up chunks of yardage thanks to Rodgers’ arm and a few short first downs with the legs of Jamaal Williams. However, the drive stalled in the red zone and Mason Crosby’s short field goal made it a two-possession game once again at 23-14.
Then, disaster struck.
With King out of the game, Davon House was matched up on Stefon Diggs on the left side of the defense. Diggs burned House off the line quickly on a second-and-ten, and Cousins delivered a perfect deep ball. Diggs hauled it in and scampered to the end zone, cutting the Packers’ lead back to two points.
With about seven minutes left in the game, Rodgers took over looking to find the end zone and run out some clock. The Packers couldn’t do the former, but did extend their lead with another Crosby field goal. Rodgers started the drive by finding Graham up the right sideline for a big gain, then hit a number of different receivers for some critical gains to get into Vikings territory. Lined up on a third-and-six from the Vikings’ 30-yard line, Rodgers was pressured and threw the ball away, setting up a 48-yarder from Crosby.
That gave the Vikings the football back with just over two minutes left and a pair of timeouts. It took just one play for the Packers to get the ball back, as Laquon Treadwell let a ball tip right off his hands and into the arms of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who returned the ball inside the 20.
The game was hardly over, however, as the Packers could not pick up a first down, kicking yet another field goal to make it an eight-point game. The Packers attempted a pair of passes after the two-minute warning, however, stopping the clock and allowing Minnesota to retain their two timeouts.
On the first play, Jaire Alexander picked off a deep heave, but Clay Matthews was flagged for another roughing the passer penalty — this one far more questionable than the one on fourth down a week ago against the Bears. Following that play, the Vikings drove steadily down the field, not using either timeout until inside the red zone with 36 seconds remaining. Cousins then hit Adam Thielen for a 22-yard touchdown with Alexander in perfect coverage and threw a fade to Stefon Diggs to tie the game at 29.
Rodgers found Graham for a ball up the sideline to get the Packers in field goal range, but after hitting a 52-yard field goal just after the Vikings took a timeout, Crosby missed left on his second attempt as the game went to overtime.
The Vikings got the ball first in extra time, and after a quick first down to Kyle Rudolph, Cousins hit Dalvin Cook for a long catch-and-run into Packers territory. However, the Packers forced a 49-yard field goal attempt by Carlson, who missed the attempt to the right.
Getting the ball needing any points to win the game, the Packers got to the edge of Crosby’s field goal range but stalled out, and Rodgers took a sack at midfield. Scott punted into the end zone to give Minnesota the ball at the 20. Cousins hit Diggs and Thielen back to back to cross midfield quickly. On third-and-two from the Packers’ 35, Diggs picked up five yards, and the Vikings gradually drove forward to the 17 to set up Carlson for a shorter attempt, this time from 35 yards.
As overtime expired, Carlson missed his third attempt on the day, sealing the game in the record books as a tie. Both teams move to 1-0-1 on the season.