For the second straight week, Vikings safety Harrison Smith intercepted a pass to give Minnesota the ball at the opponents' 30-yard line in the fourth quarter.
The context of Smith's interception Thursday night at Green Bay, however, starkly differed with his pick that helped seal a victory five days earlier at home against Atlanta.
The Vikings fell behind the Packers by 14 after one quarter and committed three turnovers in the second quarter to help Green Bay add another 14 points by halftime. Smith's third interception of the season (eighth of his career) led to a 26-yard field goal by Blair Walsh in the fourth quarter, but the Vikings fell 42-10 at Lambeau Field.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he was not pleased with the way the defense gave up a 66-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson or the way that Packers RB Eddie Lacy rushed for a season-high 105 yards on 13 carries.
"A lot of it was the back was running over us, a lot of it was we weren't getting off blocks, a lot of it was linebackers in the wrong place," Zimmer said.
The Vikings started the third player at quarterback in Zimmer's first five games as Minnesota's coach. Matt Cassel opened the season atop the depth chart, but suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week 3 and was replaced by Teddy Bridgewater. The 2014 first-round pick, however, suffered an ankle injury Sunday and wasn't quite ready to play on the shortened week, Zimmer said. Christian Ponder started in Green Bay and was 22-of-44 passing for 222 yards with two interceptions. Ponder added a 6-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter but was sacked six times.
Zimmer said a victory can conceal "some warts" but improvements need to happen after wins and losses.
"The team does care, so as long as they care and will put in the work, we'll continue to get better," Zimmer said. "There's been a lot of ups and downs, yeah. We need to get back to work and get better at the things we're doing in every phase really and continually try to figure out more about this football team. I think you learn a lot in games like this too. We can do stuff about what happens in the future but we've got to correct a lot of things."
THIRD DOWN RATES: The Vikings improved their effort on defending third down plays one week after allowing Atlanta to convert 10 of 15 (66.7 percent). The Packers entered the game converting 47.7 percent (21 of 44) but were limited to 36 percent (4-for-11) by the Vikings.
CAREER FIRSTS: Receivers Adam Thielen and Charles Johnson recorded their first career receptions, and tight end MarQueis Gray notched his first reception as a Viking. Thielen led Minnesota with four receptions for 57 yards. Johnson had one catch for 7 yards, and Gray's grab gained 16.
UP NEXT: The Vikings (2-3, 0-1 NFC North) will host the Detroit Lions Oct. 12 at TCF Bank Stadium. The extended time off is expected to help Bridgewater recover from the ankle injury and make his second career start.