Blackmon And Bishop Bounce Back

MINNEAPOLIS - Cornerback/returner Will Blackmon and linebacker Desmond Bishop both had plays on Sunday that they surely wished they could have back, but both players were able to redeem themselves with key plays in the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Vikings. - More Packers-Vikings Game Center


MINNEAPOLIS - Cornerback/returner Will Blackmon and linebacker Desmond Bishop both had plays on Sunday that they surely wished they could have back, but both players were able to redeem themselves with key plays in the second half of Sunday's loss to the Vikings.

Blackmon, who entered Sunday's game ranked third in the NFC with a 10.9-yard punt return average, fielded a 59-yard punt from Chris Kluwe a yard deep in the end zone rather than let the ball go for a touchback. His return went for 10 yards, pinning the Packers at their own 9.

"Basically I was backing up slow, so I didn't realize how much room I was actually covering," Blackmon said. "Usually the signs are if it's a good punt and you have plenty of room, you're pretty much all set. Being that I got tackled, it wasn't a smart decision. If I broke it, it would have been a good one."

As Blackmon came off the field, he was greeted by Head Coach Mike McCarthy, who clearly wasn't pleased with Blackmon's decision.

"He said just said to be smart," Blackmon said. "He trusts me back there and so far this year I have made great decisions. Not to play it safe, but be smart."

Blackmon bounced back in a big way in the third quarter. With the Packers riding the momentum of Nick Collins' 59-yard interception return for a touchdown to trim the Vikings lead to 21-17, the defense forced Minnesota to punt from their own 22 after a three-and-out.

Blackmon fielded Kluwe's punt at the Green Bay 35, avoided some tacklers as he ran down the middle of the field, and then made a final cutback to the left on his way to a 65-yard touchdown and the Packers' first lead of the game.

"I pretty much saw I think Tramon (Williams) and Charlie Peprah on the left side, and they had that part locked down," Blackmon said. "Then I saw 37 (Minnesota safety Eric Frampton), I had enough room to where I could catch the ball and make a move on him. I just took it up field and the guys did a great job of blocking for me."

It was Blackmon's second punt return touchdown of the season, with both coming against the Vikings. In the season-opening victory over Minnesota at Lambeau Field, his 76-yard return for a score also came in the third quarter.

With the touchdown, Blackmon became only the fourth player in team history to record two punt return touchdowns in a season. Desmond Howard (1996) holds the franchise record with three, and Billy Grimes (1950) and Willie Wood (1961) each had two.

"It helped, it got us a good chance, but we just couldn't hold on," Blackmon said.

Bishop was pressed into action at middle linebacker early in the second half after starter Nick Barnett injured his right knee and could not return.

On Bishop's first play on the series, quarterback Gus Frerotte threw a short pass to his left to running back Chester Taylor on third down. Taylor made a cut toward the sideline and planted, and Bishop overran the play, which Taylor took down the sideline 47 yards for a touchdown and a 21-10 lead.

Less than five minutes later, Bishop was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty when he hit wide receiver Aundrae Allison out of bounds at the Minnesota 30 on a punt return. The penalty moved the ball out to the Minnesota 45, but that was covered up by Nick Collins' interception return for a touchdown on the very next play.

{sportsad300}With the Packers leading 24-21 in the fourth quarter, the Packers forced the Vikings into a 4th-and-1 from their own 41-yard line. After initially sending on their punt unit, the Vikings called a timeout to challenge the spot on the previous play. The spot was upheld, but the Vikings elected to go for the first down in their own territory with just under nine minutes remaining.

Frerotte handed off to running back Adrian Peterson, and Bishop broke through to force a fumble at the 41, which was recovered by fullback Naufahu Tahi, but short of the first down to give the Packers possession.

"I was looking for anything I could do to make a play," Bishop said. "I knew that he carried the ball loose so I had that mental note in my mind to try to get it out. I just started reaching for the ball and ended up grabbing it and just pulled it out.

"His lineman was in the way so I couldn't really get a solid hit on him. I just kind of knifed past the lineman and just threw my body in and made the play."

The Packers got three points off the turnover-on-downs when Mason Crosby connected on a 40-yard field goal to put Green Bay up 27-21, but the Vikings were able to win the game on the next drive when Peterson rushed for a 29-yard touchdown.

"I kind of put it upon myself and put it upon the defense because on that last drive we're supposed to get a stop and we didn't come through," Bishop said. "It's very frustrating."

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