The Vikings and Packers squared off for the 116th time in series history on Sunday at Lambeau Field, and neither team left the stadium feeling great about the outcome. Yet, neither team lost the game. The game ended in a 29-29 tie, representing another dramatic chapter in a historic rivalry. Here are five takeaways from Sunday's tie.
1. Vikings showed the fight Zimmer sees in them so often
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer comments frequently about the workmanlike attitude and never-say-die spirit his team has. On Sunday afternoon, Zimmer's team put those traits on display, particularly during a 4th quarter in which they outscored Green Bay 22-9 and simply refused to be defeated. Green Bay had ample opportunities to put the game away, but the Vikings continuously made enough plays to remain alive, finally tying the game on a 22-yard touchdown reception by Adam Thielen with 31 seconds to play that was followed by another perfectly-placed pass from Kirk Cousins to Stefon Diggs for the two-point conversion. While the late-game heroics did not lead to a win this time, that kind of fight – and sudden offensive production – will serve the Vikings well going forward.
2. Cousins turns it on at Lambeau Field
Sunday marked Cousins' first career game at Lambeau Field, and he made it one to remember. After and up-and-down first half, Cousins put the pedal to the metal in the second half. He finished the game with 35 completions on 48 attempts, 425 passing yards, four touchdowns and a passer rating of 118.8. Three of the four touchdowns passes came in the final quarter, as Cousins made big play after big play to keep drives alive and put points on the board.
3. Packers had no answer for Diggs, Thielen
Diggs and Thielen were involved in the first half, combining for eight catches and 61 yards. But they were dominant in the second half, finishing the game with 21 catches for 259 yards and three touchdowns between them. Route running, hands, speed…it was all too much for the defense as Diggs and Thielen teamed with Cousins to key a dramatic 4th-quarter surge that wound up tying the game in the final minute.
4. Special teams miscues proved costly
Green Bay opened up the scoring with a blocked punt for a touchdown and then they dodged bullet after bullet with Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson missing all three of his field goal attempts, including two in overtime. While there was some good on special teams, including Mike Hughes 48-yard kickoff return and sound kickoff and punt coverage, these miscues proved costly enough to prevent the Vikings from completing their dramatic comeback.
5. Rookie Brian O'Neill thrust into action, responds well
Vikings starting right tackle Rashod Hill was lost for the game due to injury late in the 3rd quarter, which means rookie Brian O'Neill was in the game during the Vikings offensive explosion in the 4th quarter. Coach Zimmer was optimistic that Hill's injury wasn't serious, which is good news for an offensive line that is already without two starters because of injury. But it's also good news that O'Neill was able to step in for Hill and the offense didn't miss a beat.