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Vikings-Packers Notebook: Tough Sledding When Behind Chains

MINNEAPOLIS — There's no snow accumulation in the Twin Cities yet, but the Vikings found tough sledding Sunday.

Minnesota struggled to undo unfavorable scenarios in a 30-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers at the University of Minnesota.

The Vikings opened with a penalty on their first snap of the game, creating first-and-20 and an adverse trend that followed.

Minnesota had seven plays out of 62 offensive snaps where it needed 20 or more yards to get a first down and 13 where it needed 11-plus (not counting fourth downs).

"We put ourselves behind the eight ball in early down and distance with some penalties," said tight end Kyle Rudolph, who led the Vikings with a **career-high 106 receiving yards**. "When we're first-and-20, we're not putting ourselves in situations to be successful. Our style is positive plays on first down, move the chains and play that style of offense.

"When we're first and 20, there's not many things we can do to catch up," Rudolph added. "When you're playing a team that's as good as Green Bay, with a future Hall of Fame quarterback on the other side, you can't put yourself in those situations."

The Packers, meanwhile, never needed more than 15 yards to get a first down and had nine total plays out of 70 where they needed 11 or more. That play count includes a critical 50-yard penalty that was awarded after Terence Newman was flagged for pass interference. The boost led to the Packers first touchdown, a 10-yard toss from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb with six seconds left in the opening half.

That drive was extended when a holding penalty against Green Bay was offset by a roughing the passer call on third-and-9 from the Minnesota 15. An illegal contact penalty was assessed to Anthony Barr a play later, resulting in a new set of downs with 19 seconds left in the first half.

Falling behind in the down-and-distances and on the scoreboard helped Green Bay limit the NFL's leading rusher to 45 yards on 13 carries. Peterson had a 6-yard touchdown to bring the Vikings within six in the third quarter but lost a fumble at the Green Bay 22-yard line with the Vikings trailing 27-13 early in the fourth quarter.

"Besides the penalties, offensively we just have to be better running the ball, getting a push up field and protecting Teddy [Bridgewater]," Peterson said. "It was just kind of out of sync today for whatever reason. I think we'll be able to get this tape, regroup, and see the things that we definitely need to improve on. We have a long stretch ahead of us, and we'll come back and get ready for Atlanta."

Guard Brandon Fusco said, "They had a good game plan [against] us to contain Adrian, a lot of movement up front in the run and pass and threw a lot at us, and we just didn't do our job."

A major component of the Vikings five-game win streak between the bye week and Sunday's first loss at home since November 2014 (against the Packers) was one unit (offense, defense or special teams) picking up another after a lapse or building momentum off a big play from another unit.

"We need to play better on all phases," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "Special teams had some leakage in the first half [a 70-yard kickoff return after Rudolph's 47-yard TD], and that type of yardage just kills you. Rodgers made a lot of plays with his feet and out of the pocket as he does."

The best example of Rodgers being Rodgers was a scramble to his right to extend a third-and-9 play and allow James Jones to find an opening in the end zone on a 27-yard touchdown that was just inside the sideline.

"I think it's more about just the group of them that does a good job, receivers recognizing that he's kind of in that mode and they get open," Greenway said. "Obviously they made some really good catches, too. It wasn't like it was bad coverage. We were on guys, and they still found a way."

Minnesota limited Rodgers to 16-of-34 passing for 212 yards, but the team was flagged for a season-high 110 yards. The Packers also were able to run the ball 34 times, compared to 18 by the Vikings.

The Vikings and Packers are now both 7-3 with the Packers claiming the head-to-head edge as six games remain, including the regular season finale at Green Bay on Jan. 3, 2016.

"We're in a good position right now," Bridgewater said. "We know that we control our own destiny, but we know that a game like this won't be good enough to continue to compete in this division, compete with a team like Green Bay. We had too many negative plays today, starting drives on first-and-20. We have to cut down some of those plays. But, we have six more opportunities and we have to make the best of those."

Minnesota would be the fifth seed in the NFC Playoffs and visits Atlanta (6-4) Sunday.

"I mean it is frustrating, but at the end of the day we need to do what we have done in the past, whether it was a win or a loss," said defensive end Brian Robison. "We have to put this one behind us and move on to the next one."

First sack as a Viking: Captain Munnerlyn recorded his sixth career sack and first as a Viking. Munnerlyn came on a corner blitz to drop Rodgers for a loss of 9 and force a punt that was tipped by Jerick McKinnon.

"I don't think (Rodgers) counted me at all," Munnerlyn said. "I think he thought Harrison was coming and he did a great job showing and we checked it out."

The sack and tipped punt gave the Vikings the ball at the Green Bay 42, but the Packers responded by tackling Peterson for a loss of 3 and sacking Bridgewater for a loss of 2. Bridgewater was hit in the facemask during the play, but an awkward landing sent Bridgewater to the sidelines briefly.

"I just landed funny on my shoulder," Bridgewater said. "I ran inside and got looked at and I feel fine."

Peterson past 1,000: Peterson crossed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the seventh time in his career. He has 1,006 yards through 10 games, the fifth-most to open a season in franchise history.

Improvisation: Bridgewater was sacked a total of six times, and the Packers were credited with 10 quarterback hits. The second-year QB showed elusiveness and improvisation at other times on scrambles and finished with a career high 43 rushing yards (four runs).

"We knew that coming into this game that was going to be one of their points of emphasis," Bridgewater said. "The past three games I think they hadn't gotten to the quarterback, so we knew that they had heard about how they struggled to get to the quarterback and things like that. We knew that that was going to be one their focuses and today, they applied some pressures. We have to clean those things up and then watch the tape, make corrections and move forward."

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