Aaron Rodgers threatened to upend a big day for the Vikings, leading an explosive second-half comeback in the NFC North rivals' first meeting of the season on Sunday. But Kirk Cousins and Co. had the last laugh, going blow for blow with A-Rod down the stretch before setting up a walk-off field goal by Greg Joseph, claiming a 34-31 home upset, dropping the Packers to 8-3 and improving to 5-5 to keep pace in the NFC Wild Card race.
Here are some takeaways from Sunday's thrilling divisional clash:
Why the Vikings won
Rodgers may own the NFC North, but he and the Packers' offense started out of sync, enabling Minnesota to establish a surprisingly formidable first-half lead. Yes, the Vikings would go on to lose that lead later in the game, but the fact they were able to build up such an advantage early on helped in the long run. Cousins and Justin Jefferson are the primary reasons for the Vikings' early and late surge, though, showcasing their electric connection in the game's biggest moments. Jefferson (8-169-2) worked whichever "cover" man lined up opposite him, and Cousins threw the ball with authority even after his team had blown a big lead. Defensively, Minnesota had serious trouble containing Rodgers through the air down the stretch, but Mike Zimmer's front took full advantage of the Packers' banged-up line early on, disrupting A-Rod with consistent heat on the pocket.
Why the Packers lost
They may have finished strong, with Rodgers and Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling erupting for highlight-reel scores, but that only came after a sluggish opening at U.S. Bank Stadium. Though they stayed relatively even with the Vikings from a statistical standpoint during the first half, they struggled mightily to stay in rhythm, with A.J. Dillon getting limited work and Rodgers clearly frustrated in the face of steady pocket pressure. Worse yet, penalties exacerbated problems up front, where Elgton Jenkins was lost to injury. Mason Crosby once again had a negative impact thanks to a 32-yard field goal miss, and the defense also got in on the action, offering absolutely no answers for Jefferson and Adam Thielen in crunch time. Darnell Savage appeared to snag an interception late, but replay showed he didn't hang on.
There were a number of key X factor plays in this back-and-forth; had Green Bay held on, Rodgers' seamless 75-yard touchdown bomb to a wide-open Valdes-Scantling would've made for a good seal on the Packers' triumph. But no play changed the Vikings' fortunes quite like Savage's dropped fourth-quarter pick. Cousins looked a bit desperate for the big play after Rodgers' Valdes-Scantling connection, rifling a long one for Jefferson, only to have Savage seemingly make an acrobatic pick to give Green Bay possession. Replay clearly showed the ball hitting the ground, though, and the Vikings proceeded to march down the field for Greg Joseph's walk-off kick.
Play of the game
Take your pick of a half-dozen highlights from this NFC North shootout, but we can't stop thinking about Jefferson just outmuscling his man to give the Vikings back the lead late in the fourth:
📺: #GBvsMIN on FOX
📱: NFL app pic.twitter.com/p7l0myzO5w— NFL (@NFL) November 21, 2021
The Packers (8-3) will return home on Thanksgiving Weekend for another crucial NFC matchup, this one with the Rams -- arguably their chief competition for the No. 1 seed. The Vikings (5-5), meanwhile, will hit the road for a Week 12 showdown with the 49ers (5-5), who routed the Jaguars on Sunday.
Source : https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/packers-at-vikings-score-kirk-cousins-guides-minnesota-to-walk-off-upset-over-aaron-rodgers-in-thriller/live/664