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Anthony Barr, Vikings Prevent Packers Hail Mary

Posted Jan 3, 2016

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — Anthony Barr remembered seeing a similar play live.

It’s safe to say he wanted to avoid personal involvement in a repeat at all costs.

Somehow, someway, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers took a snap a split second before the clock struck zero. Rodgers danced around the G at midfield, avoiding pressure and floated one into the end zone.

Barr got between Packers receiver James Jones and the ball, won the leaping contest and batted the ball to the turf shy of the goal line to preserve a 20-13 victory.

“I thought the game was over [before the snap occurred], to be honest,” Barr said. “It came to the last play, and all I could see was Detroit in my head, and I was like, ‘Let’s just get the ball down and go home.’ ”

He landed in a heap of humanity with Jones, Packers tight end Richard Rodgers and Vikings teammates Xavier Rhodes and Andrew Sendejo. Harrison Smith jumped over the pile, and Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer quickly raised his arms to celebrate his first NFC North title in just his second season at Minnesota’s helm.

The last-second heroics occurred on the one-month anniversary of Aaron Rodgers completing a 61-yard touchdown to Richard Rodgers to win at Detroit 27-23.

“I watched it a lot – it was a pretty spectacular play. I just didn’t want to repeat it,” Barr said. “It was pretty special, man. A pretty big deal, obviously, to have home field in the playoffs for the first round is pretty big for us.”

Nine-year veteran Brian Robison applied pressure, along with rookie Danielle Hunter, forcing Rodgers to move around during the play. Robison helped a considerable amount at defensive tackle for a short-handed defensive line throughout the game.

“Honestly, the play seemed like it didn’t last that long, but from the time he released the ball from his hand, it seemed like the ball was in the air for 30 seconds,” Robison said. “Those last moments and stuff like that, it’s just one of those things where you hope you did enough in order to win a game, and we were able to do that today.”

The Packers possession immediately before was just as significant for the Vikings defense. It ended with Rhodes picking off Aaron Rodgers in the end zone on a fourth-and-goal from the Minnesota 13 with 2:09 remaining.

It was the first interception of the season for Rhodes.

“Like we’ve been practicing all week, if Rodgers scrambles out, you just plaster to your guy, stay on top of him,” Rhodes said. “I was just at the right place at the right time when he threw the ball.

“It was a good feeling,” Rhodes added. “It was a better feeling just getting the victory. I’m happy we just got the win.”

Green Bay (10-6) was able to force a punt by Minnesota (11-5) and get the ball back with 58 seconds remaining, however.

The Vikings forced three straight incompletions with a pressure by Tom Johnson on first down and a breakup by Captain Munnerlyn on third down, but converted fourth-and-10 with a 12-yard pass to Richard Rodgers.

The Packers followed with a gain of 7 to the sideline, then took a shot toward the end zone that was defended by Andrew Sendejo on second down. Rhodes locked hold of Richard Rodgers on the following play, with help from Kendricks to finish the tackle in bounds and force the hurried fourth-down snap.

In addition to their first division title and win at Lambeau Field since 2009, the Vikings earned the three seed in the NFC playoffs. Minnesota will host two-time defending NFC champ Seattle (10-6) at noon (CT) Sunday. Click here for ticket information.

Robison said he and teammates were “elated” by doing something the Vikings hadn’t done in quite a while.

“There’s a lot of emotions going on, but you know as a defense we want the game to be in our hands,” Robison said. “So to be able to finish that out like that, against a team that is very good at making comebacks like that, and to be able to get it done, that means a lot.”