Rapid Reaction: Vikings 37, Packers 34
December, 30, 2012
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- A few thoughts from one of the best NFC North football games we've seen in recent memory:
What it means: The Minnesota Vikings qualified for the playoffs by winning their fourth consecutive regular-season game. They beat the Green Bay Packers for the first time in six games, snapping the Packers' 12-game winning streak in division games. The Packers are the NFC's third seed and will host the Vikings next weekend in the wild-card round. The result eliminated the Chicago Bears from playoff contention.
PetersonWatch: Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson ran for 199 yards, giving him 2,097 on the season -- just eight yards shy of Eric Dickerson's NFL record for rushing yards in the season. His final carry was a 26-yard scamper that put place-kicker Blair Walsh in position for a 29-yard field goal to win it on the final play. Still, let's not take anything away from Peterson. Just 371 days from tearing two knee ligaments, he had the second-best season for a running back in NFL history.
PonderWatch: Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder stepped up in the biggest game of his career, tying a career high with three touchdown passes and also throwing a 25-yard pass to receiver Michael Jenkins to jump-start the Vikings' comeback drive.
RodgersWatch: The Packers offense came alive in the second half, no doubt aided by the absence of Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 262 of his 365 yards and three of his four touchdowns after Winfield departed at halftime because of a broken hand. In the end, though, the Packers defense gave up 444 yards to a Vikings offense that hasn't been great this season.
CrosbyWatch: Packers place-kicker Mason Crosby had an encouraging game on the eve of the playoffs. He drilled kicks of 51 and 40 yards, giving the Packers perhaps a little less to worry about in the postseason.
Dirty laundry: Packers coach Mike McCarthy was fortunate that replay official Dale Hamer buzzed referee Mike Carey for a review before McCarthy threw his challenge flag in the third quarter after James Jones was ruled to have fumbled at the goal line. Had McCarthy challenged before the review was initiated, the Packers would have lost the opportunity to have it reviewed, according to NFL rules. Upon review, the play was reversed and Jones was given a touchdown. For those wondering, Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz squandered his team's chances at a review on Thanksgiving Day because he challenged an automatic review before the replay official initiated it.
What's next: Let's do this again next week at Lambeau Field!