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Vikings-Packers Notebook: Relentlessness Rewarded with 5.0 Sacks, Victory

MINNEAPOLIS — One word — more of a mindset — said it all.

Brian Robison, how did the Vikings defeat the Packers 17-14 on Sunday?

"Relentlessness," the 10-year veteran said after Minnesota outlasted Green Bay in the first regular-season game ever at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Click here to watch a replay of the Vikings first-ever regular season victory over the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium with NFL Game Pass.

"Guys kept fighting, no matter what the situation was," Robison said. "We just kept fighting. Sometimes it's not always going to be pretty, but at the end of the day, it's about how you can fight, claw and scratch to get yourself a win."

The Vikings defeated the NFC North rivals in the 112th Border Battle, despite starting a quarterback who joined the team on Sept. 3, despite losing three-time rushing champ Adrian Peterson during the game with a knee injury and despite 13 penalties for 137 yards.

The overarching theme of relentlessness on Sunday night included patience and persistence.

The Vikings defensive line knew the importance of containing Aaron Rodgers because of his ability to extend plays outside the pocket and fire down field for substantial gains. Minnesota stayed committed to the play and rotated defenders, then capitalized on multiple opportunities.

Minnesota totaled five sacks of Rodgers for combined losses of 33 yards and forced a career-high three fumbles by the two-time NFL MVP.

"I think it's a little bit of [patience and persistence]," Robison said. "Sometimes you get frustrated with the way you have to rush him because of the things he can do. A lot of times, you get a little frustrated, so you have to keep that frustration in the back seat and make sure you keep being patient and keep being persistent, making sure you keep him in the pocket, but getting around his feet and eventually, plays will start to happen."

Danielle Hunter sacked Rodgers first, forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Packers to end the first quarter. In the second half, Tom Johnson, Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph added sacks.

"It's all about rushing together," Griffen said. "We went out there, we rushed together, we played well as a D-line, and we've just got to keep it up. This is our second game, so we've got to keep it going for the next 16, 17 weeks."

Robison forced one of the fumbles — the only one the Vikings recovered thanks to spontaneous sure hands from Shamar Stephen — during his sack of the quarterback.

"Here's the thing, sometimes it's a bit of a calculated risk," Robison explained. "Sometimes you go for the ball, and you want to make sure that you're going to get that ball out because if you don't, it could result in a bad deal. It was an opportunity where I saw he was leaving it out there and it was an opportunity where I could get the ball out and create a turnover and give our offense good field position. It was a calculated risk that I decided to take."

With nearly seven minutes left in the game, Robison's punch out wasn't the knock out, but it was a reinforcement that the Vikings were doing the right things. The turnover ended Green Bay's first possession after Rodgers capped a 75-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run with 12:41 remaining.

Green Bay's only possession that followed was nine plays, with Rodgers going 3-for-7 for 30 yards, with a scramble for 10, a sack by Joseph that lost 4 and an **interception nabbed** by Trae Waynes, who made his second start in as many weeks in place of injured Xavier Rhodes.

"That interception he made was huge, obviously," Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. "He competed good all night long. … The great thing about it was he fought."

Bradford's debut

Sam Bradford started his 64th career game and first with the Vikings. After being acquired in a trade on Sept. 3, the 2010 No. 1 overall pick spent a crash course learning the offense as quickly as possible. A change in system was nothing new for Bradford because he worked with multiple coordinators during his time in St. Louis before spending 2015 in Philadelphia.

Bradford completed 22 of 31 passes for 286 yards with two touchdowns and zero turnovers for a passer rating of 121.2, the fifth-highest by a quarterback in his first game with the Vikings. He impressed teammates beyond the stat sheet with poise and determination. Bradford managed suffering

Bradford helped Minnesota overcome back-to-back false starts in the red zone by efficiently managing the situation then opportunistically hitting Kyle Rudolph for an 8-yard touchdown on third-and-4. He also connected with Stefon Diggs for a 25-yard scoring strike. Rudolph gave the ball to Bradford.

"He just made great decisions all night long," Rudolph said. "He was getting us into stuff that we can be successful with and staying poised and calm the entire time.

"What he has been able to do over the past two weeks is unbelievable," Rudolph added.

Bradford thanked teammates, including friend and former Rams teammate Shaun Hill, who started at Tennessee last week and helped the Vikings open 2016 with a road win.

"The guys here have been awesome," Bradford said. "They've been super supportive of me. Shaun Hill in the past two weeks, he's been right with me every step of the way. … I just wanted to come out and play well for them tonight."

Wildcat wrinkle

With Zimmer not announcing a starter this week, Peterson joked during his weekly media session that he was loosening up his arm and would alternate some snaps with Jerick McKinnon, who played four positions in college including quarterback in an option attack.

Peterson did line up at quarterback for one play, taking the shotgun snap and rushing for a gain of 4 in the second quarter.

Peterson finished with 12 carries for 19 yards and two receptions for seven yards on a night when the Vikings rushed 22 times for 30 yards (1.4 per carry) behind an offensive line that was playing its second game together.

The Vikings also had McKinnon line up in the wildcat and hand off to Cordarrelle Patterson on a sweep in the fourth quarter but the play went for a loss of 2.

Zimmer said Peterson is scheduled to have an MRI Monday.

Diggs dazzles

By following his seven-catch, 103-yard performance in Week 1 with nine catches for 182 yards, Diggs joined Gene Washington (152 and 172 in 1969) and Cris Carter (121 and 107 in 1997) as the only Vikings players to have consecutive 100-yard outings in the first two weeks of a season.

Diggs' 285 receiving yards is the most in the NFL, 59 ahead of New Orleans' Willie Snead.

Rodgers' superlatives

By taking five sacks, Rodgers became the quarterback most frequently sacked by the Vikings in franchise history. He has now been taken down 52 times, two more than Brett Favre.

Rodgers also became the second quarterback to throw for more than 4,000 career yards against the Vikings. He has 4,206 in 17 regular-season games. Favre has the most with 7,379 yards, and Detroit's Matthew Stafford is third with 3,083.

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