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In Position To Take Lead Late, Opportunity Slips Away

Despite trailing 24-3 early in the third quarter against Minnesota on Sunday at Lambeau Field, the Packers looked to be in good position to take the lead with just under six minutes remaining, but a crucial sack factored in a big way. - More Packers-Vikings Game Center


QB Aaron Rodgers is sacked by Vikings DE Jared Allen for a 5-yard loss in the fourth quarter.

Despite trailing 24-3 early in the third quarter against Minnesota on Sunday at Lambeau Field, the Packers looked to be in good position to take the lead with just under six minutes remaining, but a crucial sack factored in a big way.

Green Bay was trailing 31-26, with a little over 10 minutes remaining, when the Vikings drove into Green Bay territory behind a 21-yard run from running back Adrian Peterson. After a 4-yard run by running back Chester Taylor on first down from the Green Bay 46, linebacker Clay Matthews hit quarterback Brett Favre as his deep pass to tight end Jim Kleinsasser fell short. Matthews got pressure on Favre again on third down, along with defensive end Cullen Jenkins, as Favre's pass intended for wide receiver Percy Harvin over the middle went behind Harvin.

Green Bay took over at its own 19, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers found fullback John Kuhn with a short pass over the middle that picked up 14 yards. On second down with Rodgers working out of the shotgun, center Scott Wells' snap bounced back to Rodgers, but he was able to gather the ball before finding wide receiver Donald Driver on the left sideline for a 17-yard pickup out to midfield. The Packers got an extra 15 yards courtesy of a roughing-the-passer penalty on defensive end Ray Edwards for unnecessarily driving Rodgers into the turf on the hit.

Just like that, the offense found itself at the Minnesota 35. Rodgers hooked up with Greg Jennings on the right side for a 7-yard gain on first down to put the Packers at second-and-3 at the Minnesota 28.

Working out of the shotgun once again, Rodgers didn't have much time in the pocket as defensive end Jared Allen came free around the edge for a 5-yard sack, Allen's third one of the afternoon.

"It was something to do with the declaration of the protection," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "So, that was the result of it. Miscommunication."

Now facing a third-and-8, Rodgers' deep throw down the left sideline for wide receiver Donald Driver fell incomplete.

"They brought a pressure I believe up the middle," Rodgers said. "We had it protected, and it was one-on-one, although (Cedric) Griffin was giving a little ground. I kind of slid to my left a little bit, and I kind of underthrew it a little bit, maybe that's a ball I put on a line more. I have to watch the film.

"At the same time, we had two guys coming on the backside across, and the drive wasn't showing up. James (Jones) was on the drive, he might have read it as zone, and he didn't show up. If I maybe held it a tick longer and extended the play a little outside the pocket, maybe we would have had a better result there. But I still felt I probably should have thrown that more on a line there, that ball."

Trailing by five points with just under six minutes remaining, McCarthy decided to attempt a 51-yard field goal that would have trimmed the lead to two. Mason Crosby's kick had the distance, but sailed wide right.

"I thought I hit it well," Crosby said. "Everything pregame had been moving right to left. That one just stayed right outside that upright. It's one of those (where) I didn't try to give it away. It just went right on me."

{sportsad300}McCarthy said what bothered him most about the possession was the sack on second down.

"We didn't do what we were supposed to there and it resulted in an extended third down," McCarthy said. "I felt that fourth-and-7 with the wind, just with the information that you go with from (special teams coordinator) Shawn Slocum and Mason during the course of the game, the obvious was we wanted to make it to a (two)-point game."

What made the missed opportunity sting even more was seeing Peterson pick up 44 yards down the left sideline on a screen pass on the very next play. Three plays later on 3rd-and-11, Favre was able to squeeze a short pass by a diving Nick Collins into wide receiver Bernard Berrian, and he took it in for the 16-yard score to give the Vikings a 38-26 lead.

"The crowd was electric tonight, their support was amazing and carried us through there in the third quarter," Rodgers said. "We just could not keep momentum going, could not finish the drive off we had to take the lead. It's disappointing."

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