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Vikings at Packers Game Observations: Big 3rd Quarter Followed by Dicey 4th

The Vikings followed a solid first half Sunday with an incredible start to the third quarter before hanging on in the fourth quarter. **Kirk Cousins left the game** in the final period with a no-contact ankle injury, but Minnesota prevailed 24-10 at Green Bay.

Cousins impressively led the offense on a 13-play, 75-yard drive to open the third quarter. He converted a third-and-9 with a 32-yard pass to K.J. Osborn, a third-and-1 with a 12-yard pass to Osborn and a fourth-and-1 with a 2-yard sneak on the way to a 2-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Hockenson.

Josh Metellus ended Green Bay's ensuing possession three plays later when he ripped the football away from Jayden Reed for an interception he returned the football 43 yards to the Green Bay 20-yard line.

Minnesota (4-4) cleverly lined up rookie receiver Jordan Addison in the backfield, allowing him to sprint beyond coverage by Jaire Alexander. Cousins delivered a perfect strike to Addison in stride for a 20-yard touchdown.

Cousins was highly successful throughout the game, completing 23 of 31 passes for 274 yards with the two touchdowns and a passer rating of 122.2.

He was replaced by rookie Jaren Hall, who made his NFL debut and completed three of four passes for 23 yards.

Osborn led Minnesota with eight catches for 99 yards, Addison finished with seven for 82 and Hockenson posted six for 88 yards as the trio accounted for all but 28 of Minnesota's 297 receiving yards.

Green Bay fell to 2-5 on the season.

Here are four more observations from the game.

  1. Defense closes it out

The Vikings defense stepped up repeatedly during a scoreless fourth quarter.

Minnesota didn't allow points on three Packers fourth-quarter possessions that began at the Green Bay 44 after a blocked field goal, at the Minnesota 15-yard line after a fumble during a sack of Hall and at the Green Bay 20.

The most impressive sequence occurred after the sack fumble.

After a 1-yard gain by AJ Dillon on first down, Jordan Love was sacked for a loss of 7 when Harrison Phillips and D.J. Wonnum converged on the QB.

Akayleb Evans broke up a deep pass to Christian Watson on third-and-16.

Danielle Hunter forced Love to scramble on fourth-and-16. The QB rushed for 15 but didn't make it to the marker because of a tackle by Harrison Smith.

  1. Running for a score

The Vikings still don't have a run play that has gained 20 or more yards this season, but they have at last reached the end zone on a rush attempt.

Cam Akers provided Minnesota's first score of the season with a 6-yard touchdown late in the first quarter. Akers rushed for gains of 3 and 6 after a delay of game penalty put Minnesota in first-and-goal at the 9.

Akers finished with 19 yards on nine carries, and Alexander Mattison added 31 yards on 16 rushes against a defense that had struggled to stop the run for much of the season.

Minnesota finished with a paltry 2.0 yards per carry but stayed committed to the run game and held the ball for a whopping 36:22.

  1. Third and fourth downs

Despite the lack of success on early-down runs, the Vikings converted 10 of 18 third downs and were successful on their lone fourth-down try.

Green Bay finished 5-for-14 on third downs and 1-for-4 on fourth downs.

The Vikings racked up 24 first downs compared to 16 for the Packers.

The 24 first downs included four by penalties on Green Bay. Only one of the Packers third downs was granted by a penalty (a pass interference in the end zone).

  1. Special teams suffers lapses

The Vikings special teams group suffered multiple lapses that could have hurt Minnesota in a closer game.

Greg Joseph missed a 42-yard field goal wide right to end Minnesota's first possession and had the fourth quarter attempt blocked. He also had a kickoff bounce out of bounds, resulting in a penalty that spots the ball at the Green Bay 40-yard line.

The Vikings also were flagged for being offsides on a 35-yard field goal attempt by Anders Carlson at the end of the first half. Carlson's initial kick bounced off the right upright.

After a 5-yard mark-off, he knocked it through the uprights to make it 10-3 at halftime.

Minnesota's special teamers appeared to have an incredible kickoff return from Ty Chandler in immediate response to Green Bay's lone touchdown of the day, but rookie Ivan Pace, Jr., was flagged for a hold.

Instead of a 103-yard touchdown by Chandler, who was filling in for Kene Nwangwu (illness), the Vikings took over at their own 14-yard line.

Minnesota was moving the ball on that drive and advanced to the Green Bay 13-yard line before an incompletion, a sack of Cousins and the play on which he left the game that resulted in another sack.

On fourth-and-23 from the 26, the Vikings tried a 44-yard field goal that was blocked and recovered by Green Bay.