MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings defense effectively showed what happens when a team can play well against Aaron Rodgers and when a team doesn't get enough pressure on the Packers quarterback in the same game.
The Vikings perplexed the Packers early, allowing one field goal, six first downs and 130 net yards on Green Bay's first four possessions.
"We gave him a couple different looks that he hadn't seen from us all year," said Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson, who returned after missing three games on Injured Reserve in time for his first Border Battle. "Like [Head Coach Mike Zimmer] said, mixing up a little bit of pressure."
The Packers rallied, however, just before halftime with a 74-yard touchdown drive that provided a jolt in the second half. Green Bay capped all three of its possessions in the second half with touchdowns.
Thankfully for Vikings defenders, teammates on offense showed one of the best defenses can be a good offense in an eventual 34-31 victory — Minnesota's 500th regular-season win.
Rodgers cut Minnesota's lead to 16-10 at halftime by taking advantage of a longer time to throw that allowed tight end Josiah Deguara to free himself in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown, his first career score, with 30 seconds remaining.
Green Bay's first and second touchdowns of the second half (both caught by Davante Adams) erased a 13-point Vikings edge midway through the fourth quarter.
Minnesota's offense answered with a 12-play touchdown drive for a 31-24 lead with 2:17 remaining.
The Vikings allowed a touchdown on their very next snap — a 75-yard pass from Rodgers to Marquez Valdes-Scantling to tie the game at 31.
"The long one-play drive we were doubling Adams, and we just got beat," Zimmer said. "The other touchdown (Adams' second), we were in the 0 blitz and the receiver kind of tricked [Mackensie Alexander] off the line. He kind of eased out and then took off again, and we got tricked. So, we'll continue to try to figure out better ways to cover."
Rodgers was 13-of-22 passing for 188 yards and one score in the first half.
He went 10-for-11 for 197 with three touchdowns in the second, finishing the game with a passer rating of 148.4.
"I think we got bit a couple times, but luckily we came out on top in the game, but [you have to mix coverages] with great quarterbacks like Aaron," Peterson said. "You can't be status quo and line up in generic defenses. He's good enough to point it out and know where to go with the football.
"You kind of saw we were crowding the line of scrimmage, moving guys around, trying to confuse him as much as we can, and you just try to make those reads as cloudy as possible for a talented quarterback like Aaron," Peterson continued. "I thought we had spots where we did it really well, and we had spots where we didn't, so a lot of things to clean up on tape, and there's a lot of things to be proud of as well, so just happy to be back at .500."
Zimmer said the Vikings didn't rush the passer "very good" in the second half, and that prompted trying to manufacture more pressures with blitzes.
But teams don't have to blitz future Hall of Fame quarterbacks if they're not on the field.
That's why the Vikings were aggressive on offense down the stretch and managed the clock really well so that Greg Joseph's 29-yard field goal would go through the uprights as time expired.
"Well, we hadn't stopped them the whole second half, and I didn't want him to have the ball," Zimmer said. "So I figured the best place to win the game was him on the bench."