Good news for the Packers: they gained ground in the NFC North on Sunday.
Bad news for the Packers: it was just a half-game.
The Packers and Vikings played to a 26-26 tie at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon. It is the first tie in an NFL regular-season game since the Rams and 49ers finished deadlocked at 24 in San Francisco a season ago.
In some ways, the Packers were fortunate to scratch out a tie, considering how poorly they played for most of the first three quarters of the game. They trailed 23-7 early in the fourth quarter before third-string quarterback Matt Flynn led a comeback to send the game into the extra period.
Then, in overtime, the Packers came out rolling, and when Flynn hit wideout Jarrett Boykin for 34 yards down the left sideline, Green Bay had first-and-goal at the Minnesota 7. With a touchdown, the Packers would win the game.
Instead, the Vikings’ defense held firm, and when a Flynn pass to Jordy Nelson fell incomplete in the endzone, the Packers took a 20-yard Mason Crosby field goal as a consolation prize.
The Vikings’ first drive in overtime ended in three points, too, with Blair Walsh connecting on a 35-yard field goal with 3:54 left. As they did all game, the Vikings leaned on their ground game, with Adrian Peterson (32 carries, 146 yards, one TD) and Toby Gerhart (eight carries, 91 yards) doing the heavy lifting. The Vikings had a chance at a touchdown, but rookie wideout Cordarrelle Patterson could not haul in a deflected pass in the endzone.
That was it for the excitement in Green Bay. Both offenses stalled thereafter, and the game ended with neither a winner nor a loser — just two teams that knew they could have won if only for some better play here or there.
The regret could be especially strong for the Packers, who are now 5-5-1. With the Bears and Lions losing on Sunday, Green Bay could have edged into a first-place tie. Instead, they are a half-game back entering a huge game on Thanksgiving at Detroit.
The Packers may have a decision to make at quarterback after Flynn completed 21-of-36 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown in place of Scott Tolzien, who was benched for ineffectiveness by coach Mike McCarthy. Of course, if Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) is able to play, there isn’t much of a decision at all for Green Bay to make.
The 2-8-1 Vikings, who turned in a spirited effort at Green Bay, host Chicago next Sunday.