GREEN BAY, Wisc. —By the end, historic Lambeau Field was dotted with groups of Purple, as Vikings fans led one victorious SKOL Chant after another.
The Vikings-Packers rivalry has seen plenty during the 115 Border Battles between two division rivals, but Saturday night saw the Minnesota defense pitch a rare shutout.
Led by a standout performance from safety Harrison Smith and clutch plays in crucial situations, the Vikings kept the Packers off the scoreboard in a 16-0 road win.
It was the first time Minnesota had shut out Green Bay since Nov. 14, 1971, when the Vikings secured a 3-0 winat Metropolitan Stadium under Hall of Fame Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant.
"It's huge, that's what we want to be able to do for our fans, and that gives our fans bragging rights," Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said of the Vikings first shutout since 1993. "For us, it gives us great momentum going into the next game, so we have to gear up and get ready for the next one."
"Anytime you can get a shutout, it means a little something," Robison added. "For us, it's about making sure we win the ball game, and that's our ultimate goal each and every week. If we can pitch a shutout, that's really good for our defensive room."
The Vikings, who entered Saturday night's game ranked second in the NFL in both yards allowed per game (283.9) and points allowed per game (17.3), delivered a dominating performance in a game that was played in single-digit temperatures.
Minnesota was close to delivering a shutout in Week 15 at home against Cincinnati, but the Bengals scored with just over six minutes remaining to get on the board.
Yet members of the Vikings defense said they weren't concerned with accomplishing the feat as the minutes ticked away at Lambeau Field.
"The shutout is cool, though. We had a big fan presence here, got the SKOL Chant going," Smith said. "It's cool to get a shutout … this defense has been playing hard all year, and we enjoy playing. It's nice to get things like that."
"It wasn't like a huge discussion about it," Smith added. "We just knew we were only up two scores … a touchdown, an onside kick, you never know what can happen in this league so that was kind of the main focus."
Added Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr: "I don't know if we were thinking about it, we were just trying to get off the field and give the offense the ball back. I don't think we really realized it until the last drive where if we stopped them there then we'd get the shutout."
Minnesota's shutout effort was boosted by key plays in crucial times.
The stingy Vikings limited the Packers to just four conversions on 15 third downs, yet also didn't allow Green Bay to convert any of its four fourth-down attempts. Minnesota also didn't allow points on two trips that Green Bay made inside the red zone.
Smith had a big hand in the red-zone success as he picked off Packers quarterback Brett Hundley late in the second quarter with the Vikings holding a 10-0 lead.
But numerous other clutch plays allowed the Vikings defense to get off the field as Minnesota surrendered just 239 yards of offense.
"Those are all big time, especially in the red zone there at the end of the first half," said Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo. "They're about to go in and get some points, and to get a turnover was big time down there.
"All the fourth downs we stopped them on, turnover on downs is always huge," Sendejo added. "Overall, it was a good effort."
The Vikings who sit at 12-3, will now get ready for their regular-season finale at home against the Chicago Bears next weekend.
The defense will be riding high after a dominant performance against its biggest rival.
"It's important for the guys, but the most important things is that we got the win," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said of the shutout. "Our defensive players work very hard, our defensive coaches do a great job and we've got good players and they play well together."
Added Sendejo: "It's always nice to put a goose egg up there. You don't let them score, you have a pretty good chance of winning."