Packers running back Eddie Lacy celebrates after getting a first down during Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. / Lukas Keapproth/Press-Gazette Media
Packers cornerback Davon House (31) drops an interception in front of Vikings tight end John Carlson (89) in the second quarter. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media
Packers quarterback Scott Tolzien dives in for a touchdown. / Lukas Keapproth/Press-Gazette Media
By tying Minnesota, the Packers (5-5-1) picked up ground on first-place Detroit and Chicago (6-5) and trail the leaders by a half-game in the NFC North. The Packers control their destiny, meaning if they win their remaining five games they will claim the division title no matter what any other team does. The Bears lost to St. Louis 42-21 and the Lions fell to Tampa Bay 24-21. That sets up the Packers-Lions game on Thanksgiving in Detroit as a crucial division battle.
Eddie Lacy punished Vikings defenders in rushing for 110 yards on 25 carries (4.4-yard average) including a touchdown, and his second and third efforts were remarkable. Time after time, Lacy bounced off would-be tacklers and picked up extra yardage. Even when nothing was there, he managed to pick up 2 or 3 yards. “I was just running physical,” Lacy said. “They were tackling a little high, so that gives the runner the advantage, and I was able to break the tackles.” For as good as Lacy was on the ground, he also made a major contribution in the passing game in the fourth quarter, when he caught all six of his passes for 48 yards to help the Packers rally from a 16-point deficit. Lacy had two catches on the Packers’ 80-yard TD drive to pull within 23-13, four receptions on their 76-yard march to close to 23-20 and another catch on a 60-yard field goal drive that tied the game in regulation. Lacy also gained 42 yards on the ground in the fourth quarter on eight carries.
Davon House had a sure interception slip through his hands on the Vikings’ first possession of the second quarter. The worst part for the Packers was House had nothing but open field in front of him and could have returned the errant Christian Ponder pass for a touchdown. That would have given the Packers a commanding 14-3 lead, but instead, the Vikings seized control of the momentum and scored 20 unanswered points to grab a 23-7 advantage. Those are the kind of impact plays the Packers have consistently failed to make on defense and a reason they are tied for last in the NFL with just four interceptions. Ponder’s pass hit House in the hands and bounced harmlessly to the turf. The Packers had no interceptions and forced just one turnover.
• 11 — Consecutive quarters in which the Packers failed to lead over a four-game span. The streak was broken when the Packers took a 7-0 lead against Minnesota in the first quarter. The last time they had led was in the first quarter against Chicago on Nov. 4.
• 1 — Games this season in which the Packers have forced more than one turnover. They had four takeaways against Cincinnati, but just one in six other games and none in four others.
• 37 — Times the Packers have tied in franchise history. Their stalemate against Minnesota was the first in 26 years.
• 6 — Rushing TDs by Lacy this season, which ties the rookie record set by Samkon Gado in 2005.
Many will blame the tie on the Packers’ defense for not holding the Vikings in overtime from driving for a field goal. But it was the Packers’ offense and the inability to convert on two drives deep in Vikings territory that proved costly. On the final drive of regulation, the Packers had a first-and-10 at the Vikings’ 12 but three plays netted just 3 yards, and the Packers settled for a 27-yard field goal. In overtime, the Packers had a first-and-goal at the Vikings’ 7 and would have won the game with a touchdown. But two Lacy runs netted 5 yards and Matt Flynn’s third-down incompletion led to a 20-yard field goal. “It’s very frustrating,” said Flynn of failing to punch the ball into the end zone in overtime. “We had a lot of momentum at that point and just didn’t get it done.”
Did you notice?
Johnathan Franklin put the ball on the ground on the opening kickoff but was ruled down by contact. The Vikings didn’t challenge the call because officials said there was no clear recovery.
Scott Tolzien threw into heavy traffic and was nearly picked off by Kevin Williams on the Packers’ first possession. The Packers’ offense had four three-and-outs during Tolzien’s seven series before he was replaced by Flynn.
■ Tolzien’s one shining moment came when he juked Vikings defensive tackle Letroy Guion out of his jockstrap on a spin move on his way to a 6-yard first-quarter touchdown scramble.
A.J. Hawk forced an Adrian Peterson fumble in the second quarter that was recovered by Andy Mulumba, but Hawk got away with a face-mask grab on the play.