The Minnesota Vikings have made it a lot of habit to train Mike Zimmer on these high-pressure finishes.
All that experience should pay off. They brilliantly followed the winning formula to beat the Green Bay Packers by making sure that Aaron Rodgers was on the sidelines at the end and not on the field.
Greg Joseph scored a 29-yard field goal as the time lapsed to give the hosts the Vikings a 34-31 victory over the Packers in a classic home-and-away game with their longtime rival and divisional rival.
“Do you know how they say, ‘Sunday is a fun day,'” said a weary Zimmer, after the match was decided in the final shot for the sixth time in 10 matches. The Vikings (5-5) won three and lost three of them.
The only team in the NFL this year to lead by seven or more points in every game, all but one of the Vikings were selected. Kirk Cousins passed for 341 yards and three touchdowns to help the Vikings stay one step ahead of Rodgers for most of the afternoon.
“Hopefully going forward we will find our way to put the forks into teams, and put them away when we have to, but we are still trying to learn how to do that,” said Patrick Peterson. “I think continuing in these situations will continue to improve us.”
Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, all on the Packers’ full four possessions, except for kneeling down to finish the first half. All of those engines covered 74 yards or more.
Rodgers finished 23 of 33 in a season peak of 385 yards for the packers (8-3). After losing time earlier to COVID-19, Rodgers has been unable to train much this week due to a toe injury.
“It’s very painful. I went up in the first half, and that kind of revitalized all the symptoms I’ve been having,” Rodgers said.
Justin Jefferson had eight receptions for 169 yards and two degrees for the Vikings, including a catch for third against Novice Eric Stokes who was handed the Cousins for a 23-yard touchdown while faked in a lightning attack by Darnell Savage. Dalvin Cook ran in the two-point conversion to make up for an extra point missed earlier by Joseph.
In the next play of the scrimmage, Rodgers threw a rainbow to Marquess Valdes-Scantling past safety Xavier Woods for 75 yards to tie the game two minutes before a warning.
“Every playing with this guy is a fight. You just hope, when they go down and score in one game, that the offense will come back and do what they did,” Zimmer said. “So I was so proud of them for that.”
When the Vikings got the ball back, Cousins himself almost tasked the comeback with bringing down Jefferson a bit, whom Savage sprinted in front of to intercept the ball. He swayed his way down, and the replay review canceled the call.
Cousins then went 3 of 3 for 51 yards on the next three shots, and Cook—who lunged for 86 yards and landed—run down another one. Then the Vikings knelt twice to take the last kick by Joseph.
“It’s just life in the NFL,” Cousins said. “I definitely understand why people want to follow it and watch it.”
The Vikings scored their highest score against the Packers since their 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints in their season opener. The Packers gave up only 34 points over the previous three games.
Preston Smith had two bags, but the Packers players didn’t have the same fast passes with outside quarterback Rashaan Gary (elbow) sidelined. Zadarius Smith and Whitney Mercellus also came off long-term injuries.
Rodgers threw to Davante Adams twice for a touchdown, including an 18-yard shot in third and sixth midway through the fourth quarter when he was trying to call a timeout before the gun shot.
Adams has 12 scoring receptions against the Vikings, the most of any player.
“When you play a thrilling attack and you have a quarterback, a great receiver and a back-to-back, you have to keep scoring,” Rodgers said. “We have to start faster.”
Brown Lions keep winning 13-10
With the outcome in doubt and their season in grave danger, the Cleveland Browns turned into their most reliable player.
Nick Chubb came as always.
“We needed him and he showed up,” said Denzel Ward, Brown’s corner back.
Chubb got a touchdown pass, dash for 130 yards and helped run out the clock as Brown held off a devastating season upset and kept the Detroit Lions unbeaten with a 13-10 victory on Sunday in Cleveland.
Chubb is back in the squad after missing one game due to COVID-19. The star running back got a 5-yard touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield and then helped Brown (6-5) to clear the Lions (0-9-1).
Leading with three, Brown regained the ball before 2:29 to the left. As the FirstEnergy Stadium crowd chanted, “Chubb, Chubb,” before each shot, coach Kevin Stefanski handed Mayfield the ball to one of the NFL’s top defenders.
Chap cut runs 3, 4, 11 and 15 yards to freeze it.
“Everyone was cheering Chubb’s name at the end,” Brown’s defense end Miles Jarrett. She said. “I was definitely cheering my leg up.”
Receiver Jarvis Landry ran wide for a result as Brown barely bounced back after blasting him by 38 points last week in New England.
The Lions were unable to build any momentum from the 16-16 draw a week ago in Pittsburgh and made some blunders while increasing their winning streak to 14 games. They are the only team that has not won any league titles.
“Nobody likes to lose,” Lyons said running back D’Andre Swift, who finished his career with a 136-yard rally. “We want to win, so that’s frustrating.”
Swift hit 57 yards in the second half to keep the Lions close.
Kicker Aldrick Rosas made a 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to pull the Lions down within 13-10. However, the Lions’ attack couldn’t come up with another big game, and coach Dan Campbell decided to shoot with 2:36 left, depriving his team of one last chance.
“I thought we’d get the ball back,” Campbell said. “I’m sure there are people who consider me very conservative, but you have to be careful and you have to be smart. We are trying to win games 14-13 or 16-13.”
The Lions played without quarterback Jared Goff, who suffered a tilting injury against the Steelers. Tim Boyle finished 15 of 23 for 77 yards with two interceptions in his first NFL start.
Mayfield was limited to practice this week with shoulder, foot and knee injuries. He threw an interception in the first half and had other issues in wet conditions before calling Chubb late in the second quarter.
Mayfield finished 15 of 29 for 176 yards with two interceptions. He refused to speak with reporters after the match.
Landry’s 16-yard run came in tool formation to open the second quarter. Brown was determined to get more touches from Landry, and the emphatic receiver moved behind the center with Mayfield turning to the right. Landry took the shot and rolled left to throw to his right.
With no one open, Landry put the ball down and rushed into the middle in his second fast touchdown of the season.
The Browns took a two-goal lead late in the half with help from the Lions, who committed three penalty kicks – two from corner back Amani Oruwariye – at 76 yards.
Boyle came with only four pass attempts. Gauff hasn’t trained this week, and his status remains uncertain in Thursday’s Thanksgiving game against the Chicago Bears.