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5 Takeaways: Vikings Continue Living on Edge in Thrilling Win Vs. Packers

MINNEAPOLIS — Oh man, does this win feel good for the Vikings locker room.

And not just because it was yet another wild thriller.

Minnesota came through when it mattered most, putting together a game-winning drive for a 34-31 win that will go down as one of the wackiest games in the 122-game history of the Border Battle.

Greg Joseph's 29-yard field goal on the final play of regulation sent U.S. Bank Stadium into a tizzy as the Vikings moved to 5-5 on the season.

With the game tied at 31, Minnesota marched 64 yards in five plays in the final stanza for the heart-stopping victory.

All but one of the Vikings 10 games in 2021 have been decided by seven or fewer points, with Minnesota holding a 4-5 record in those contests. The Vikings have found a way to win them lately, getting close wins the in the past weeks against the Chargers and Packers.

Justin Jefferson (more on him below) was an absolute star, and Kirk Cousins was on-point with 341 passing yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

The Vikings victory was the franchise’s 500th all-time win in the regular season.

The Vikings are on the road in Week 12 against the 49ers. Kickoff from San Francisco is at 3:25 p.m. (CT).

Here are four other takeaways from Minnesota's Week 11 win:

1. Jefferson is a dominant star

The Vikings threw the ball early and often to Jefferson, who turned in one of the best games of his young career.

Minnesota's second-year wide receiver went off against the Packers, catching eight passes for 169 yards and two scores. He was targeted 10 times on the day.

His biggest catch? That would be a 23-yard touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter that gave Minnesota a 29-24 lead and was followed by an important 2-point conversion.

Jefferson was splashy early, hauling in passes of 43 yards and 56 yards in the first quarter. He did not catch a pass in the second quarter, but drew a 37-yard flag for defensive pass interference.

Jefferson caught two passes for 30 yards in the third quarter, including a 9-yard touchdown in which he lined up in the backfield before running a route.

Jefferson's career-high in receiving yards is 175, which he set in Week 3 of the 2020 season against the Titans.

This was Jefferson's 11th career game with at least 100 receiving yards, tying Randy Moss and JuJu Smith-Schuster for the second most in a player's first two seasons during the Super Bowl era. According to NFL research, only Odell Beckham, Jr., has the record with 15.

2. Hits and misses for Vikings 3rd-down defense

As usual, the chess match was on between Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

And the most evidence of that came when the Packers offense faced third downs in Week 11.

Green Bay converted seven of 11 tries on third downs on the day, with both sides getting the better of each other at different points in the game.

Zimmer's unit was able to generate pressure on Rodgers early, with Everson Griffen sacking and stripping Rodgers in the first quarter. The quarterback recovered the pigskin on the play.

View game action photos of the Border Battle between the Vikings and Packers during the Week 11 matchup at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Rodgers, however, countered late in the first half with a 25-yard touchdown pass on third-and-5. The Vikings have now allowed a whopping 59 points in the final two minutes of the first half this season.

Minnesota stopped 4-of-8 attempts on third downs in the first half, but the Vikings struggled in the second half.

The Packers converted on each on their three third-down chances in the second half, none bigger than an 18-yard touchdown pass by Rodgers on third-and-6 midway through the fourth quarter.

3. Packers penalties loom large

Minnesota cleaned up the penalties Sunday, getting flagged just three times for 25 total yards. That was a massive improvement on a 10-penalty, 118-yard disaster in Week 10 against the Chargers.

But the Packers weren't so clean, and the Vikings benefitted from the sloppy play.

Moments after the defensive pass interference call Jefferson drew in the second quarter, the Vikings caught another break.

Cousins was picked off in the red zone, but he was hit in the helmet right after his throw, which went down as a personal foul on the Packers. Green Bay's roughing-the-passer call gave the Vikings first-and-goal, with Cousins later finding Adam Thielen for a 10-yard touchdown pass.

The Packers were also called for 12 men on the field just before the 2-minute warning in the fourth quarter. That helped jump-start the Vikings final possession.

Green Bay was whistled for eight total calls that added up to 92 yards.

4. Ups and downs for both kickers

Both kickers had their ups and downs on Sunday.

Minnesota's Greg Joseph and Green Bay's Mason Crosby each showed off their distance early.

Crosby opened the game with a 54-yarder, while Joseph came back on the Vikings first possession with a 51-yard kick.

But both kickers also had down moments, too.

Joseph missed an extra point, which the Vikings got back on Cook's 2-point run late in the fourth quarter. It was his second missed extra point of the season.

Crosby doinked a 32-yarder off the right upright.