Marquez Valdes-Scantling had never missed an extended period of time due to injury, at any level football, like the six games the Packers' receiver missed after tweaking his hamstring against San Francisco on Sept. 26.
After returning two weeks ago in Kansas City and catching a 41-yard pass last week against Seattle, Valdes-Scantling was back to his big-play self on Sunday against Minnesota with four catches for 123 yards and a touchdown.
While the Packers fell 34-31 to the Vikings in front of 66,959 at U.S. Bank Stadium, it was Valdes-Scantling's career-long 75-yard touchdown catch with two minutes, 8 seconds remaining that tied the game, 31-31.
It also served as a reminder of what the fourth-year receiver is capable of after Valdes-Scantling led the NFL with 20.9 yards per catch in 16 regular-season games a year ago.
"This is the first time in my career dating back to high school that I've missed football games so obviously it's been tough," said Valdes-Scantling, who hadn't missed a game for Green Bay over his first three-plus seasons prior to the hamstring injury.
"It's football. Injuries are going to happen. I feel blessed enough to make it this long without any injuries and hopefully I keep that train going. Just keep trying to help this team win any way I can."
Davante Adams opened Sunday's game with an emphatic 37-yard catch on the first play of the game, which came on a crossing route. Minnesota's busted coverage resulted in just linebacker Eric Kendricks trailing Adams, who moved the ball down to the Minnesota 38.
The Vikings kept tabs on Adams for the rest of the game, tilting their two-safety looks towards the All-Pro receiver. That led to quarterback Aaron Rodgers targeting Valdes-Scantling five times in the first half and on 10 of his 33 total pass attempts.
Valdes-Scantling had perhaps the biggest offensive play of the first half at the start of the second quarter when he caught a 39-yard pass from Rodgers on third-and-12 to bust into Viking territory.
Green Bay tried a 32-yard field goal at the end of that drive, but Mason Crosby's attempt banged off the left upright. It would be the last time, absent one Jordan Love kneel-down before halftime, that the Packers wouldn't score.
Green Bay cut Minnesota's halftime lead to 16-10 with Rodgers finding second-year tight end Josiah Deguara for a 25-yard TD off an extended play with 38 seconds left in the half.
The Packers carried the momentum into the second half, with a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Adams. On the next series, a 26-yard pass to Equanimeous St. Brown on third-and-6 set up a second Adams touchdown, this time from 18 yards out, to give Green Bay a 24-23 lead.
"We just found a flow at that point," Adams said. "I feel like we were hurting ourselves in the first half a lot, penalties putting ourselves in first-and-long, second-and-really-long situations. It becomes tough when you're playing a team like that, with a really good defense; obviously at home, too.
"We shot ourselves in the foot with some self-inflicteds early and then we just kind of started jelling, figuring out the best ways."
The Green Bay Packers faced the Minnesota Vikings in a Week 11 matchup on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021.
The Vikings answered with their own lengthy scoring drive before Valdes-Scantling ran a deep post inside the coverage of safety Xavier Woods for the 75-yard TD.
It would be the final throw for Rodgers Sunday, finishing with his highest passer rating of the year (148.4) after completing 23-of-33 passes for a season-high 385 yards and four touchdowns.
"The play was an old play in the old offense that we've kind of revamped the last six, eight weeks," Rodgers said. "Marquez, his speed (inside) is always an attention-getter. They decided to bring pressure and I looked left first to Davante and that kind of held Harrison (Smith) down there on that side, and 'Quez just had a one-on-one on the safety.
"Once the ball's in 'Quez's hands, he's taking that to the house."
Green Bay finished with one of its highest offensive output days of the season, producing 467 total yards, going 7-of-11 on third downs (64%) and scoring its most points since a 35-17 win over Detroit in Week 2.
"Obviously we didn't win the game so obviously not in the stride we want to be," Valdes-Scantling said. "We started off a little slow. The second half we kind of picked it up. We've got to make the plays when they're there, we've got to run the ball a little bit better, we've got to complete some of those passes down the field that we had those opportunities."