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Vikings Defense Shuts Down Packers in Scoreless 4th Quarter

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was in the blue medical tent with a non-contact ankle injury, and kicker Greg Joseph just had a 44-yard field goal try blocked.

Suddenly, the Vikings defense was tasked with defending a 14-point lead with Jordan Love and the Packers at midfield.

Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores' unit knew the importance of producing a stop with the possibility that rookie Jaren Hall was taking over at quarterback with less than 10 minutes to play.

Turns out, the defense forced three stops without allowing a single point the rest of the way in a 24-10 Vikings victory at Lambeau Field.

Green Bay advanced the ball to the Minnesota 10-yard line with 7:26 remaining before three consecutive incompletions, including consecutive pass breakups by Mekhi Blackmon and Camryn Bynum, gave the ball back to Minnesota with 7:15 remaining.

Hall's first third-and-8 try ended with a fumble during a sack by Preston Smith as the Packers reclaimed the ball at the Minnesota 15 with 5:54 to play.

The Vikings responded with a 7-yard sack split by D.J. Wonnum and Harrison Phillips on second down and a pass breakup by Akayleb Evans on third down.

Danielle Hunter forced Jordan Love to scramble on fourth down, and he gained 15 yards before Harrison Smith tackled him a yard shy of the sticks with 4:46 remaining.

Hall converted his next third-and-8 with a pass to T.J. Hockenson, allowing Minnesota to run more clock before punting the ball with 2:41 remaining in the game.

Hunter recorded a sack on third-and-10 with less than two minutes remaining, and Blackmon knocked away a deep pass, sending Hall and the Vikings into victory formation with 1:17 remaining.

The defense held Green Bay to 270 total yards, 1-of-4 on both red zone and fourth-down situations, and allowed only one touchdown. After the game, Head Coach Kevin O'Connell awarded a game ball to each defensive player and coach.

Cousins' injury could've swung a game that the Vikings fully controlled before the early fourth-quarter injury, But the team built off another standout defensive performance, highlighted by a Josh Metellus' interception on the Packers opening drive of the second half.

"I thought the defensive performance was phenomenal, gave that whole side of the ball and the coaching staff game balls," O'Connell told media members moments after having Metellus accept one ball in the locker room on behalf of the defense.

Metellus put on a thriller in Green Bay.

The fourth-year safety intercepted Love and returned it to Green Bay's 20-yard line, setting up a 20-yard Jordan Addison receiving touchdown the next play.

Metellus netted his first interception of the season (and second of his career) by trailing a sprinting Jayden Reed on a deep vertical route that started from the Vikings 27-yard line. As the throw reached Reed at midfield field, Metellus located the ball without committing interference and ripped it away from Reed.

His 43-yard return ended with a group "Thriller" celebration in the corner of the end zone, connecting Halloween weekend, the Michael Jackson epic video and excitement of a tremendous football play.

The turnover marked the third straight game that Minnesota has recorded at least one takeaway. The Vikings again controlled the line of scrimmage and eliminated passing windows on Sunday behind Flores' diverse scheme.

"The more we're starting to play [in the defense], the more we're figuring out what we do best, and how we use that on Sunday's is everything," Metellus said. "I think Flo' is doing a great job of putting us in position to make plays and do what we do. Everybody has strengths, and we're all figuring out how to use those for our defense."

View game action photos from he Vikings vs. Packers Week 8 at Lambeau Field

Love entered Week 8 near the bottom of the league in yards per attempt and completion percentage. Green Bay has scored just 29 points in first halves so far this season. Twenty of those points came in the first two weeks. Flores kept the Packers offense looking confused.

It took the Packers offense until its fifth possession and more than 25 minutes of game time to gain a first down. Green Bay opened the game with four consecutive three-and-outs. Before their fifth possession, which netted them three points to end the half, the Packers averaged 11 yards to gain on third downs.

Green Bay strung some plays together before halftime. Their 14-play scoring drive traveled 73 yards and ended with a 30-yard Anders Carlson field goal. But the Vikings had multiple opportunities to keep Green Bay off the scoreboard.

On the drive's second play, cornerback Camryn Bynum nearly intercepted Love on a pass down the left sideline for Dontayvion Wicks. Bynum broke on a wheel route from his free safety position, and dove for the hole-shot pass Love tried to thread.

The reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Week had the ball bounce off his fingertips. Green Bay capitalized on the break. Over the next 10 plays, Green Bay drove it into the red zone. Love countered the Vikings linebacker blitzes with quick passes over the middle to his tight end and running backs.

Yet, the Vikings nearly held Green Bay scoreless in the first half. The Packers missed their initial end-of-half field goal, a 35-yard try that doinked off the right upright. But safety Jay Ward was flagged for offsides on the try. Carlson made the redo, a 30-yard attempt to end the half.

But the Vikings second-half offense was too much for Green Bay and helped Minnesota defend its two-score lead. Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson scored a 2-yard touchdown via Cousins on the opening series of the second half.

Metellus followed with a quick pick, and Cousins found Jordan Addison on a 20-yard touchdown pass on the next snap.

Green Bay was inefficient rushing the ball. Defensive tackle Harrison Phillips had a disruptive game. Phillips stuffed running back AJ Dillion on a third-down rush from the Vikings 1-yard line. The Packers scored the next play on a 1-yard pass from Love to Doubs, but the previous stuff exemplified the Vikings control of the line of scrimmage.

Phillips finished with half a sack, tied Metellus and Jordan Hicks for the team high of eight tackles, and added two quarterback hits. Bynum totaled seven tackles and two pass breakups.

"I think we had a good game plan. I felt pretty comfortable with some of the stuff we were doing, and I knew this team — with both running backs, that we potentially would see a lot of that," Phillips said. "They both have different approaches, they're different types of runners, and [the Packers] have a different run game based on who's in there. So just tried to anticipate as many plays as I can and again, ultimately, in this type of defense, it's kind of on the offense of who kind of shows up on the stat sheet."

After the game, Phillips and the entire locker room's thoughts were on Cousins and what a potential long-term injury could mean for the rest of the season.

"I'm sick to my stomach. Just praying for him," Phillips said. "Thankful for a win, for sure. But not ... a normal three-game win streak vibe, I would say."