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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Quick hits: Vikings claim first NFC North title since 2009 with win in Green Bay

By Andrew Krammer

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Vikings claimed their first NFC North title in six years.

A 20-13 win at Lambeau Field didn’t come easy as the Vikings warded off a Packers’ comeback after initially leading 20-3. The defense won the day, led by end Everson Griffen, who finished with a game-high four QB hits and two sacks — both critical plays.

Here are a few quick hits from Sunday. Be sure to tune in to 1500AM, or stream on, to listen to Vikings VentLine with the Superstar Mike Morris and Phil Mackey. Call 651-646-8255 or 877-615-1500 immediately after every game. Check back to for more updates.

Defense holds firm — The Vikings looked to have the game in hand before Aaron Rodgers led a 59-yard drive capped with a field goal. The Packers pulled within 20-13 and on the ensuing kickoff return, Cordarrelle Patterson’s 71-yard return ended in a fumble. Rodgers found James Jones for 37 yards, setting the Packers up for the game-tying score. But the Vikings’ defense, which had been on the field for 31 minutes before this fourth-quarter drive, held firm. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd’s sack on 2nd and goal and cornerback Xavier Rhodes’ interception on 4th and goal gave the Vikings possession with just over two minutes to play.

A quick turnaround — Just seconds after Teddy Bridgewater threw an errant interception with his left hand, the Vikings’ defense responded with the game’s biggest play. Mike Zimmer dialed up a blitz, but defensive end Everson Griffen was the one to speed around Josh Sitton and poke the ball out of Rodgers’ hand as he attempted a pass. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn scooped up the fumble and made a 55-yard return for a touchdown to give the Vikings a 20-3 lead in the third quarter.

An aggressive approach — The Packers overloaded one side on a punt rush, and the Vikings took full advantage with a fake on the opening series. Facing 4th and 3, receiver Adam Thielen took a carry for 41 yards down into Packers’ territory. The Vikings opened the game with an aggressive approach, taking a few deep shots with Bridgewater that didn’t pan out. Zimmer kept the foot on the gas defensively, blitzing Rodgers in critical situations — including a failed 4th and 5 in the first half.

Staying grounded — The Vikings flustered Rodgers early and often. With Sitton, the Packers’ left guard, starting at left tackle for the injured David Bakhtiari, Griffen had himself a day. He finished with three tackles for losses, including two sacks, and a team-high four QB hits. Both of his sacks came at critical junctures, the first leading to Munnerlyn’s touchdown. The second sack came on third down and forced a field goal for the Packers to cut into the lead, 20-13. Overall, ESPN stats had Rodgers hit on 11 plays — four from Griffen and three from defensive tackle Tom Johnson.

Keeping run in check — The Packers went run-run-run to open the game, handing the ball off seven times to Eddie Lacy on a drive that lasted 8 minutes and 43 seconds. The opening series ended in a field goal. Lacy saw just six carries the rest of the game. Overall, the Packers averaged just 2.6 yards per carry with strong showings from linebacker Eric Kendricks, Griffen and linebacker Anthony Barr, among others.

Flurry of injuries — Peterson left the game in the third quarter with a lower back injury and didn’t return until the final possession. Vikings’ team trainers spent a few minutes trying to help him loosen up before he headed into the locker room. Shortly after, the Vikings jumped to a 20-3 lead. The Vikings also lost Thielen (shoulder), nose tackle Kenrick Ellis (ankle) and tight end Rhett Ellison (knee) in the game. Linebacker Anthony Barr also left briefly due to injury.

The post Quick hits: Vikings claim first NFC North title since 2009 with win in Green Bay appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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