Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field during the second
half an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday,
Jan. 3, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis.
GREEN BAY — The Packers' four-year
reign atop the NFC North is over.
If they don't figure out how to
jump-start the offense soon, Green Bay's postseason will be over
Aaron Rodgers passed for 291 yards and
a touchdown but threw an interception in the end zone with 2:09 left,
and the Packers' frantic fourth-quarter push fell short in a 20-13
loss Sunday night to the Minnesota Vikings.
Minnesota's defense knocked away a
desperation pass in the end zone from Rodgers on fourth down as time
"Frankly, we didn't do enough of
the things you need to do, especially in big games, to come out on
top," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
The upstart Vikings made those plays.
Adrian Peterson ran for a touchdown and
cornerback Captain Munnerlyn returned a fumble 55 yards for a score
after Rodgers lost the ball when his arm was hit by Everson Griffen.
The Vikings (11-5), after winning their
first division title since 2009, will host the Seattle Seahawks in a
wild-card playoff game next Sunday. The Packers (10-6) will travel to
Washington to play the NFC East champion Redskins, also on Sunday.
Vikings' Adrian Peterson celebrates after an NFL football game
against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Green
Bay, Wis. The Vikings won 20-13.
A team that started 6-0 and looked to
be a strong NFC contender has stumbled into the playoffs with two
But the Packers can take slight
consolation from memories of their run to winning the Super Bowl in
2010, when they were the sixth seed.
"Playoff season is here. We know
how to win, we know what it takes to win and we have a clear
understanding of the things that you can't do to win," McCarthy
The Vikings took advantage of Green
Bay's mistakes. They won in spite of a so-so day for the offense and
some harrowing moments late on defense and special teams.
Packers kicker Mason Crosby forced a
fumble on Cordarrelle Patterson's potentially field-flipping 70-yard
kickoff return with 5:21 left. But the Packers' next drive ended with
Rodgers being intercepted in the end zone by Xavier Rhodes.
"Coming here, it was always a
fight, a dogfight," Peterson said.
Packers' Richard Rodgers gets into the end zone for a touchdown
catch past Minnesota Vikings' Harrison Smith (22) and Xavier
Rhodes during the second half an NFL football game Sunday, Jan.
3, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis.
The division championship was
Peterson's second title of the day — he also finished the season
with his third career NFL rushing crown.
"It's been since 2009 and that's
too long of a stretch," Peterson said. "That drought is
Perhaps a bit ahead of schedule for the
Vikings. Just two years after going 5-10-1, Minnesota is back in the
playoffs under second-year coach Mike Zimmer.
"Did we get here faster? I don't
know. I have pretty high expectations," Zimmer said. "I
don't know, maybe."
The Vikings got the sterling defensive
effort needed on the road to win their first game at Lambeau Field
since 2009. Zimmer smiled and raised both arms after Rodgers' final
pass fell incomplete.
Peterson ran for 67 yards on 19
carries. He gave the Vikings a scare after leaving midway through the
third quarter with a lower back injury before returning late in the
Teddy Bridgewater was just 10 of 19 for
99 yards, and the passing game was rendered largely ineffective. But
the defense stifled Green Bay's dysfunctional offense at nearly every
turn until the hectic fourth
Vikings' Marcus Sherels loses the ball as he is hit by Green Bay
Packers' Jeff Janis on a punt return during the first half an
NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis. The
ball went out of bounds.
Griffen had two sacks, and the Vikings
held on at the end after being left out of breath defending the
Packers' late no-huddle attack.
"It wasn't fun, to be honest with
you. It was nerve-racking," Zimmer said.
The previously dormant Packers scored
10 points in the fourth quarter, including a 16-yard touchdown pass
from Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers, and a 43-yard field goal by
But a slow start doomed the Packers
once again, as did a sluggish running game.
Eddie Lacy had a strong start, but
finished with only 34 yards on 13 carries.
The loss left the Packers without a win
over a division opponent at home for the first time since 1968.
"Yeah, we've got to play better.
We've got to put it all together," Aaron Rodgers said.
NOTES: Peterson said he had an X-ray
taken of his back to make sure there was nothing wrong with his spine.
"Now I've just got to get up early tomorrow morning — I'm not
looking forward to it — and I've got to do what I've got to do to
get ready for Sunday," he said. ... Aaron Rodgers was sacked five
times. The Packers played without starting LT David Bakhtiari (ankle).
Pro Bowl G Josh Sitton slid over to replace Bakhtiari, and Lane Taylor
started at guard.