MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings claimed the 117th Border Battle with a 24-17 victory over the Packers on Sunday Night Football for their first victory in four prime-time games in 2018.
Although the final score was one possession, the game was one of the most complete and complementary by the Vikings (6-4-1, 2-1-1 in the NFC North) this season in front of a U.S. Bank Stadium record 66,872 fans.
Minnesota outgained Green Bay 416 to 254, held the ball for more than 34 minutes and was 7-for-14 on third downs.
Kirk Cousins completed 29 of 38 passes for 342 yards with three touchdowns and no turnovers for a passer rating of 129.5, breaking Randall Cunningham's franchise record for passing yards in one season against the Packers.
Adam Thielen led Minnesota with 125 yards on eight catches, Stefon Diggs added 77 on eight receptions, continuing their tear through the league, and Kyle Rudolph totaled 63 yards on seven receptions.
The Vikings defense limited the Packers to 2-for-10 on third downs, sacked Aaron Rodgers four times and held him to 198 yards passing on a 17-of-28 night.
The game could have had a little more breathing room, but the victory featured several elements that can help the Vikings be successful as they enter a December with five games, including the next two at New England (8-3) and Seattle (6-5).
Pregame question: Could the Vikings stop their struggles in prime-time games this season?
The Vikings knew the stakes went beyond the importance of defeating a rival, but they weren't too tight.
Minnesota executed a beautiful limbo celebration after Dalvin Cook's 26-yard touchdown catch tied the game at 7 with 2:53 left in the first quarter.
The question by the end of the night, however, wasn't "how low can you go?"
It is more along the lines of how high can they go.
What a difference a week makes.
The Vikings are still looking up at the Bears (8-3) in the NFC North, but Minnesota would be the No. 5 seed in the NFC Playoffs if the postseason started this week.
The Vikings netted just 5 yards on their first six snaps and found themselves down 7-0 roughly 10 minutes into the game when Minnesota responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive capped by Cook on a simple pass to the running back. The play followed a 24-yard completion to Stefon Diggs.
Green Bay re-took a seven-point lead on its next possession with a smooth drive, but Minnesota clapped back with gains of 17 and 10 on passes from Cousins to Rudolph and consecutive completions of 10 and 30 yards to Diggs to tie the game at 14 with 11:01 remaining in the first half.
View game action images as the Vikings take on the Packers under the lights for Sunday Night Football at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Vikings defense forced punts on the Packers final two possessions and held the ball for more than seven minutes on the way to intermission, but Minnesota was unable to take the lead. A pair of quality possessions ended with missed field goals from 48 and 56 yards.
Green Bay netted just 42 yards on its first four possessions of the second half and never advanced the ball past the Minnesota 47.
The defensive prowess included a tackle for no gain of Aaron Jones by Harrison Smith on a fourth-and-1 from the Green Bay 44.
The offense was able to get a 37-yard field goal on the ensuing possession.
Sheldon Richardson got one of his 2.0 sacks on the night to force a punt on Green Bay's next possession, and Marcus Sherels returned the ball 20 yards to the Packers 36. A penalty for illegal formation gave the Vikings an additional 5 yards, and Minnesota found the end zone on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Thielen for a 24-14 lead with 27 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Richardson again ended Green Bay's next possession with a sack, and the Vikings were able to pound the football with Latavius Murray and move the chains on passes to Thielen for a gain of 20 on third-and-6 and 13 to fullback C.J. Ham on third-and-1, keeping possession for nearly seven minutes.
A muffed punt recovered by Sherels helped Minnesota burn another minute of clock and force Green Bay to use its second timeout.
Thielen on Cousins' demeanor and execution:
"It shows his character and what kind of player he is to just not really care what people talk about him and not care what happened last week and to go out there and play some really good football," Thielen said. "The throws he was making and his full game was really impressive, and that's what you expect of him."
Cook on the team believing:
"It wasn't even a bounce back. We just needed to pull a whole game together," Cook said. "We're not shouldering on Kirk. We just need to put a whole game together. You'll see once we play good on special teams, once we play good on offense and defense and we put it all together, we're a force to be reckoned with."
Smith on his tackle of Jones and the momentum swinging toward the Vikings:
"It was big for the team, and a lot of us were in on it," Smith said. "It was kind of a turnover. We knew we would get three points off of it."
Diggs on the Vikings seizing momentum in the third quarter:
"Playing together, playing as a unit, all phases are doing everything that they can. Give it everything that you got," Diggs said. "It showed up throughout the game of guys just laying it on the line for the team."