Give the Minnesota Vikings credit. . .they fought as much as they could in this one, as they were down a number of defensive backs and had to shuffle their offensive line. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough in the end, as they fell by a final tally of 33-27 to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon at the Metrodome.
Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder had numerous highs and lows in his first ever National Football League start. He completed just 13 of 32 passes on the afternoon for 219 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he also threw two interceptions that derailed Minnesota drives in the third quarter, but overall the offense looked significantly better under Ponder than it did in the first six games of the year under Donovan McNabb's. . .ahem. . ."leadership."
Ponder got off to a very nice start, as on his first play of the game he found Michael Jenkins on the left sideline for a 72-yard gain. It looked as though Jenkins had gone the distance, but after a review was found to have gone out of bounds at the 1-yard line. It didn't matter, though, as two plays later Ponder found Visanthe Shiancoe for a 7-0 Minnesota lead.
The Packers answered back with a nine-play, 91-yard drive that ended with a two-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to John Kuhn to tie the game at seven. After an exchange of punts, the Vikings had to punt away again, but rookie Randall Cobb muffed a fair catch attempt and the Vikings took over at midfield. They turned that drive into a 1-yard Adrian Peterson touchdown run, and the Vikings' lead went to 14-7. The teams then traded field goals to move the score to 17-10, and another Mason Crosby field goal as the first half came to an end made it 17-13 going into the locker room.
The Green Bay offense blistered the Vikings in the third quarter, however, as the second play of the frame saw Aaron Rodgers find a wide open Greg Jennings thanks to a blown coverage that gave them a 79-yard touchdown pass and a 20-17 lead. After a big punt return by Cobb, the Packers got into the end zone again with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jermichael Finley to make the score 27-17. The Packers added two more Crosby field goals before the quarter ended, making it 33-17 going into the fourth quarter.
A Ryan Longwell field goal early in the fourth cut the deficit to 33-20, and Ponder led a 93-yard drive that concluded with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins to cut it to 33-27. After getting the ball back, Vikings' coach Leslie Frazier made a decision that will be talked about for the next few days, to be sure.
The Vikings had the ball on their own 36-yard line with a little more than two and a half minutes left to play, having all three of their time outs and the two-minute warning. Facing a 4th-and-10 situation, Frazier sent Chris Kluwe on the field to punt the ball away rather than risking going for it. The Packers got the ball and were able to run out the clock after a couple of runs by James Starks, and eventually knelt down to secure the victory.
The loss for the Vikings sends them to 1-6 on the season, while Green Bay remains the only undefeated team in the NFL at 7-0. The Vikings travel to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers next week.