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Last Week's Losses Equally Frustrating To Packers, Vikings


The Green Bay Packers are certainly smarting from a game they felt they gave away to the Buffalo Bills last Sunday.

But the Minnesota Vikings come into this Sunday's NFC North Division showdown kicking themselves just as much over their most recent defeat.

Last Sunday at San Francisco, the Vikings made a litany of mistakes that handed the 49ers a 9-3 victory, much like the Packers gift-wrapped the 24-10 Buffalo win with four turnovers.

The circumstances have in essence left both teams wanting, right away, to make up for one that got away.

"You're going to have losses in the league," Minnesota quarterback Brad Johnson said. "You're going to have bad games and how you deal with them and how you recover is the key to your team. Obviously we have some things we need to improve and work on and find ways to win regardless of how it comes."

To review, the Packers lost to Buffalo despite the fact that their defense surrendered just 184 yards and 11 first downs, and held the Bills to 2-for-11 on third-down conversions.

Meanwhile the Vikings lost to San Francisco despite allowing only 133 yards and eight first downs, and holding the 49ers to 3-for-13 on third downs.

Offensively, both teams simply blew opportunities. The Packers drove the ball across midfield nine times against the Bills but scored just 10 points. The Vikings crossed midfield seven times and scored only three points.

"Looking at the Packers now and looking at us now, I don't think we're that far apart from each other," said Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell. "We both have new staffs that are implementing new systems, and I think that's why our records are so close. I would anticipate this game would be close."

In the Packers' case, it was turnovers and poor execution that cost them their chances against the Bills.

For the Vikings, turnovers played a part as well. But they also had an illegal block nullify a 65-yard touchdown reception by running back Chester Taylor on a swing pass, and receiver Troy Williamson dropped a third-down pass at the San Francisco 20-yard line with under two minutes left, helping to kill Minnesota's final drive at the 49er 27.

"It's been different things on different plays on different series," new Minnesota head coach Brad Childress said of the offensive struggles. "We've moved it decently early but haven't been able to convert, and we're working feverishly on that."

{sportsad300}Like Longwell said, the installation of a new offensive system does take some time, but both the Packers and Vikings feel those types of execution problems shouldn't exist midway through the season.

"There is a learning curve, and the one thing on offense is if you've got one of those 11 who might not be doing the right thing or might not have the right idea, you have an issue," Childress said. "That's not always the case on defense, where somebody can be the eraser for you. But largely it's execution problems."

One thing both teams hope improves that execution is playing a division rival. Focus tends to sharpen for rivalry games like this one, and the Vikings haven't played a division opponent since Oct. 8 while the Packers haven't played one since Sept. 24.

"I'm actually glad this is this week, especially after a tough loss against Buffalo," defensive end Aaron Kampman said. "Even the young guys, they understand the intensity with which we practice and the intensity with which the meetings are going on. This is a big game and we'll have no trouble getting up and hopefully giving our best shot."

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