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Remmel: Packers vs. Vikings


For the participants, Monday night's Packers matchup with the Minnesota Vikings in Lambeau Field will be historic, regardless of the outcome.

The Vikings, who made their first regular season visit to Green Bay in 1962 (it was City Stadium then, three years prior to being renamed Lambeau Field), will be paying their 30th visit to Titletown, a milestone in which both teams can take a modicum of pride.

The Purple Gang, it should be noted, also has made 15 other regular season appearances against the Green and Gold in Milwaukee

(between 1961 and 1994, after which the Packers opted for playing all of their home games in Green Bay).

The Vikings made their first Green Bay showing on Sept. 16, 1962, under their second-year head coach, Norm Van Brocklin, previously one of the NFL's premier quarterbacks.

The Packers, en route to the best club record in team history (13-1), won that one, 34-7, controlling the football throughout with a 191-yard

rushing performance, 75 of those yards contributed by Jim Taylor, 67 by Paul Hornung.

In addition to marking the Vikings' 30th visit, Monday night's clash also will be the approximate anniversary of the only tie game in the 44-year history of the rivalry, which spans 88 games.

That lone deadlock was played in "Lambeau" on the afternoon of Nov. 26, 1978, when the Packers and the Minnesotans dueled to a 10-10 standoff in overtime.

Considering that the Packers had limited their guests to a field goal and were leading 10-3 as the 2-minute mark arrived in the fourth quarter on that occasion, their chances of prevailing appeared to be reasonably bright, with the Vikings taking possession of the football at their own 43-yard line following a David Beverly punt.

But Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who had become somewhat notorious for his come-from-behind skills, presided over an 11-play scoring drive capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass to Ahmad Rashad into the left corner of the end zone with only 6 seconds left in regulation. Minnesota placekicker Rick Danmeier then delivered the extra point to tie it at 10 send the game into overtime.

Both teams subsequently had an opportunity to win it in sudden death but, in each case, their kicking specialists faltered with the game on the line.

Danmeier was wide left from only 19 yards, customarily tantamount to a "gimmee," early in the overtime and never had another opportunity. The Packers' Chester Marcol, meanwhile, had to wait until the final minute of the "fifth" quarter before his chance came. He, too, was off target, his 40-yard effort veering wide right with only 21 seconds left in overtime. In a historical sidelight, the Packers' Terdell Middleton, a second-year running back from Memphis State, set a club record by making 39 rushing attempts-a mark he still holds. He proceeded to close out the afternoon with 110 hard-earned yards.

Middleton earlier had scored the Packers' lone touchdown of the game by way of a 1-yard run in the second quarter, capping a 12-play, 70-yard drive engineered by quarterback David Whitehurst.

Middleton also caught two passes for 20 yards to emerge as the team's overall offensive leader with 130 yards, accounting for better than a third of Green Bay's 318 net yards.

With those collective 41 "handles" (39 carries and two receptions) Middleton continues to own the Packers' all-time record for most combined attempts in a single game, 27 years later.

At that point in the '78 campaign, Middleton was en route to a 1,000-yard season, then only the 10th such season in team history. He went on to close out the year with 1,116 yards in a then team-record 284 attempts.

Rookie wide receiver James Lofton, in the midst of launching his bid for an ultimate berth in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, had to be content with one reception for 24 yards.

Although the 10-10 standoff remains the only tie in the Packers' stoutly contested rivalry with the Vikings, the longtime antagonists since have gone into overtime on five other occasions in the series.

Unfortunately for the Green and Gold, the Vikings have won four of those five contests, 27-21 at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minn., Sept. 23, 1979; 20-17 in Lambeau Field Oct. 13, 1983; 23-20, also in "Lambeau,"on Sept. 6, 1991; and 13-10 in the Minneapolis Metrodome Oct. 20, 1994.

The Packers finally stemmed the overtime tide in 2000 when wideout Antonio Freeman pulled off his memorable "on-the-back" reception, rising from the turf to convert his uncanny catch into a 26-10 victory over the Vikings - their first OT triumph at Minnesota's expense.

In that '78 season which produced the lone deadlock in series history, Bart Starr's Packers went on to tie the Vikings for first place in the NFC Central Division at season's end.

But Minnesota had won their first meeting of the season, 21-7, and having thus defeated and tied Green Bay in their annual home-and-home series, qualified for the playoffs while the Packers had to stay home for the holidays.

As division champions, the Vikings were exempt from the NFC's Wild Card playoffs, but fell to the Los Angeles Rams in a divisional playoff two weeks later, 34-10.

IT SPEAKS FOR ITSELF: The overall record in the series, which shows the Packers with a one-game advantage in the 88-game history of the rivalry (44 wins to 43 losses), speaks eloquently for itself. And so, most assuredly, does the scoring differential the Packers and the Purple launched their competitive relationship in 1961. It reveals that the Packers, who have outscored the Vikings by a narrow, 118-point margin over that span (1,818 to 1,700), thus find themselves separated by a modest average of 1.34 points per game over the history of the 44-year series.

If post-season play is taken into account, the rivalry is all even at 44-44-1, the Vikings having won the teams' first playoff encounter following the '04 season, 31-17.

Continuing an association with the team that is more than 55 years old, Lee Remmel was named the first official Team Historian of the Green Bay Packers in February 2004. The former *Green Bay Press-Gazette reporter and Packers public relations director, Remmel will write regular columns for as part of his new assignment.

In addition to those articles, Remmel will answer fan questions in a monthly Q&A column. To submit a question to Remmel, click here. *

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