Skip to main content

Game Review: Packers Bounce Back With Another Road Win


MINNEAPOLIS - The Green Bay Packers continue to show their resiliency on the road.

Back in Week 3 with an 0-2 record, they pulled together to win at NFC North Division rival Detroit. Then three weeks later, sitting at 1-4, they used their bye week to regroup for a much-needed victory at Miami.

Now on Sunday, fresh off an ugly loss at Buffalo, the Packers got their season back on track once again by coming to their most hated road venue, Minnesota's Metrodome, and posting a 23-17 triumph over the rival Vikings that required turnover-free offense, active defense and a few strokes of good fortune.

"This is a big win for us, especially here in this stadium where a lot of times we haven't been successful," linebacker Nick Barnett said. "We're leaving here with a win. We wanted to win last week, that was a heart-breaker for us, but we just have to continue this momentum."

All the offensive momentum on Sunday was created by receiver Donald Driver and quarterback Brett Favre.

The two connected on the game-turning touchdown play, an 82-yard catch-and-run on a slant pattern with 48 seconds left in the first half as the Packers reclaimed the lead at 17-14. That play capped a 97-yard drive for which the Packers took an aggressive approach despite being backed up near their own goal line with under 2 minutes left in the half.

But the stars' performances went far beyond that one play.

Driver finished with six catches for a career-high 191 yards, including 151 in the first half after his big reception just before intermission. He repeatedly beat the Minnesota defense over the middle and was the primary weapon with the ground game scuffling against the Vikings' tough front seven.

Meanwhile Favre wasn't sacked in 42 pass attempts and completed 24 passes for a season-high 347 yards and two touchdowns, the first a 5-yard swing pass to Noah Herron in the first quarter that staked Green Bay to an early 10-0 lead.

His quarterback rating of 100.0 reflected an error-free game in which Favre spread the ball around to seven different receivers and made several key third-down throws while compiling his highest yardage total since the NFC North clinching victory on Christmas Eve two seasons ago (365 yards).

"Our pass protection was outstanding today," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "Brett had a ton of time to throw.

"When you're throwing the ball 40-plus times, that's tough for a quarterback. You're putting a lot on his shoulders, and I thought he made clean decisions."

Defensively, the Packers bounced back from a rough second quarter during which they allowed back-to-back touchdown drives by the Vikings. A coverage bust led to an easy 40-yard TD pass from Brad Johnson to Billy McMullen to pull Minnesota within 10-7.

One possession later, a 35-yard one-handed catch by Bethel Johnson set up another score for a 14-10 Vikings lead. McMullen recovered running back Chester Taylor's fumble in the end zone after Taylor (75 yards rushing, 20 receiving) caught a 15-yard pass over the middle and had the ball jarred loose on the goal line.

But the defense buckled down, allowing only three first downs over the Vikings' next seven possessions. Six of those drives ended in punts, including three straight three-and-outs at one point. The seventh stop was an interception by nickelback Patrick Dendy that the offense followed with a drive for a field goal to make it a two-score game at 23-14 with 2:11 left.

"We honed in on our technique a lot," Dendy said of the defense's second-half turnaround. "Everybody played a very good game. We gave up a couple big plays but we made some adjustments and made the plays when they counted."

Using an array of linebacker blitzes, the Packers harassed Johnson (18 of 30, 257 yards) and recorded four sacks accounting for 35 lost yards. The defense set the tone for that game plan early when Brady Poppinga got a clean shot on Johnson, knocking loose a fumble that Corey Williams recovered to set up Favre's first TD pass.

"We tried to always keep them guessing," defensive end Aaron Kampman said. "We were moving guys around. I played inside a little bit, outside we had guys blitzing, just rushing four or rushing three. The more multiple looks you give them, sometimes you can confuse guys, and there were times they were confused and we got home."

{sportsad300}Ultimately the defense allowed only three points over the final 21/2 quarters, those coming on a Ryan Longwell field goal with 58 seconds left to pull Minnesota within 23-17.

That gave the Vikings one last chance, which looked threatening when they recovered an onside kick. But the recovery was nullified because Artrose Pinner was offsides, and the second onside attempt went out of bounds, giving the ball to the Packers for two kneel downs to seal the win.

The mistake by Penner was the final stroke of good fortune on a day the Packers got their share of breaks. Penner also was called for an illegal block in the back on Jarrett Bush that wiped out Bethel Johnson's 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half.

In addition, a shovel pass near the goal line to Ahman Green in the third quarter appeared to be a catch and a fumble, but fortunately the play was ruled incomplete. And on the next play, Dave Rayner's 24-yard field goal deflected off the left upright and went through.

"Let's give our team credit for sticking with it and being tenacious and not being denied," fullback William Henderson said. "It's difficult to come into this place and play well. It's definitely difficult to come in here and win. I'm just very proud of the fact that we stuck together and when they got up on us, we didn't lose our poise. Young guys, did not lose poise.

"I'm not saying we're a good team, but we're trying to reach for that good team reputation as well as consistency. It's a great thing to see them go out there, handle their business, and for us to come out victorious."

The Packers have no need to apologize for a few good bounces after some of the tough breaks they've dealt with in 2006. The bottom line is they're now 4-5, including 2-1 through the first round of division games and tied for second in the division with the Vikings, with a chance to hang around in the muddled NFC.

"It means a lot," said Green, who battled his way to 55 difficult yards on 22 carries. "It's a rivalry game and a division game, so it kind of counts double towards the end come December and January.

"We just have to continue to focus on the rest of our season, and we might be in the playoffs at the end of this thing."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content