Game recap: 5 takeaways from Packers' down-to-the-wire loss to Vikings

Wild back-and-forth finish goes Minnesota’s way

Vikings kicker Greg Joseph makes a 29-yard field goal to seal Minnesota's 34-31 win over the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers lost in the final seconds, 34-31 to the Vikings on Sunday in Minneapolis.

Here are five takeaways from the tough defeat.

1. That was one crazy fourth quarter.

Down 23-10 late in the third, receiver Davante Adams scored the first of his two touchdowns on the day to make it a one-score contest, and then things just got wild in the final stanza.

After a third-down Preston Smith sack got the ball back for the Packers, Adams capped a 94-yard drive with his second TD – on a third-down pass that came as Aaron Rodgers called timeout too late, while the shotgun snap was on its way – to give Green Bay its first lead since the game's early moments, 24-23.

The Vikings countered with a 79-yard TD drive, as receiver Justin Jefferson scored his second TD, and Dalvin Cook's two-point conversion made it 31-24 Minnesota.

That lead lasted all of one play, as Rodgers hit Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a 75-yard TD to make it 31-all just nine seconds later.

Minnesota then drained the final 2:08 off the clock, getting completions of 19 yards to Cook and 26 yards to Adam Thielen before kneeling on the ball in the red zone to kick a walk-off field goal from 29 yards out.

"Definitely emotional roller coaster," said Adams, who finished with seven catches for 115 yards. "That's a great way to explain it, especially at the end because, you know, we thought we had the ball back."

2. The defense's biggest missed opportunity came on the first play of the final drive.

Adams was referring to a would-be interception by safety Darnell Savage on a Kirk Cousins deep ball to start the final possession. But the ball came out of Savage's grasp and grazed the turf as he went to the ground, so the turnover was overturned via replay.

The Packers never did get the ball back, and on an off day for a Green Bay defense that ranked third in yards and points allowed coming in, the regrets were many.

Savage had a pick early in the game wiped out by a roughing-the-passer penalty on Kingsley Keke, leading to a Vikings TD. He also had his hands on another deep ball that receiver Thielen batted away, almost like a defender.

On the final drive, cornerback Rasul Douglas looked to have an interception chance on the 26-yard sideline completion to Thielen, but overran the throw and the play ruptured into a big gain.

Cousins finished 25-of-34 for 341 yards with three TDs and no interceptions (128.4 rating), but the Packers certainly had their opportunities to change those stats.

"That's the chance to get their offense off the field and not let them get the ball rolling," Smith said of the misses, another coming on his sack that knocked the ball out, but the Vikings recovered. "Kirk hit his throws today. We allowed him to be comfortable and that's what happens when you let him get comfortable."

Jefferson had eight catches for 169 yards to go with the two scores, accounting for almost half of Cousins' passing yards.

3. Rodgers put up monster numbers despite not practicing, and while dealing with a toe injury that appears to be getting worse.

With the Packers scoring touchdowns on all three of their second-half possessions, Rodgers wound up 23-of-33 for 385 yards with four TDs and a 148.4 passer rating, his biggest statistical game of the season. In addition to Adams going over 100 yards, Valdes-Scantling (four catches, 123 yards) did, too.

The big-time production helped make up for yet another missed field goal by Mason Crosby earlier in the game, which loomed large for a while but in some ways felt moot with the Vikings kneeling on the ball late in the game.

Rodgers said his injured toe, which kept him out of practice except for some limited work on Friday, got stepped on early in the game, making it flare up. He got it looked at and treated at halftime and appeared no worse for wear as the game went on, but without specifying how the injury came about, he confessed it's "very, very painful" and "a little worse than turf toe."

He's hoping it'll start feeling better after the bye week, but he's got to get through one more game before getting that rest.

The Green Bay Packers faced the Minnesota Vikings in a Week 11 matchup on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021.

4. The bye week simply can't get here soon enough for the whole team, as another key player went down.

The Packers lost left tackle Elgton Jenkins to a knee injury in the fourth quarter, when he went down while trying to block blitzing safety Harrison Smith. Yosh Nijman took his place.

The offensive line is hoping to get David Bakhtiari back at some point from his season-long recovery, but that remains uncertain, and rookie center Josh Myers already has been out several weeks.

So while the Packers went into Sunday's game thin at edge rusher due to injuries last week to Rashan Gary (game-time inactive) and Whitney Mercilus (out for season), now the offensive line is even more depleted.

"You definitely hate to see that happen," Rodgers said regarding Jenkins' injury. "But with Dave's status unknown, we're going to have to rely on probably Yosh. He's played some good football for us. I'm proud of the way he's stepped in.

"But hopefully the news isn't so bad with Elgton."

Next week will mark the Packers' 12th straight game without a bye, and then they'll finally get a week off to gear up for the stretch run.

5. The Packers are still in solid shape in the NFC North and conference as a whole.

The Vikings improved to 5-5 to pull within 2½ games of the now 8-3 Packers in the division, and the two teams meet again in Week 17 at Lambeau Field (Jan. 2).

Green Bay also will be no worse than one game off the lead for the top record in the NFC. The Cardinals (8-2 entering Sunday) were still playing at the time of posting, as were the Cowboys (7-2 coming in). Update: The Cardinals won to improve to 9-2, while the Cowboys lost to fall to 7-3.

"They made more plays today than we did, especially at the end of the game there, so we've got to regroup," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "You can't feel sorry for yourself too long. We've got to move on because that's the way this league works."

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