GREEN BAY, Wis. – History will remember the 107th meeting between the Vikings and Green Bay Packers as a game that ended in a tie. At least one Viking took a glass-is-half-empty view of that ambiguous outcome.
“I view it as a loss,” defensive end Jared Allen said. “We gave up a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter. I don’t have a sister, but I guess it’s like going to the prom with your sister like everybody says, right?”
Or something like that. In a season that has resembled a daytime soap, the Vikings added another oddball twist that somehow felt entirely appropriate for a team that invents new ways to lose.
Except this wasn’t a loss. Or a victory.
Instead, the Vikings were left emotionally conflicted after finishing 75 minutes of football deadlocked in a 26-26 tie against their border rivals on a frigid day at Lambeau Field.
In squandering a 23-7 lead in the fourth quarter, the Vikings came undone by a series of defensive penalties and dropped passes, including one by rookie Cordarrelle Patterson in the end zone in overtime.
“I don’t know how to view it,” Adrian Peterson said. “It’s not a win, it’s not a loss. It is what it is.”
The tie moved the Vikings record to 2-8-1, while Green Bay (5-5-1) stayed alive in the NFC North race that nobody seems to want to win.
Sunday’s game marked the Vikings’ third tie in the overtime era (since 1974) and their first since 1978, which came against the Packers nearly 35 years to the day: a 10-10 tie on Nov. 26, 1978.
The oddness of a tie made for a weird atmosphere inside the Vikings locker room. Nobody really knew how to accept it.
“I guess we didn’t lose,” left tackle Matt Kalil said, “but it’s not as satisfying as a win.”
In their case, the tie felt closer to a loss because the Vikings had control of things early in the fourth quarter. But the Packers started to chip away behind quarterback Matt Flynn, who replaced a struggling Scott Tolzien in the third quarter.
Operating a hurry-up offense, Flynn led the Packers on three consecutive scoring drives — 16 points total — to force overtime on Mason Crosby’s 27-yard field goal with 50 seconds remaining.
The teams traded field goals on their first possessions of overtime, but neither scored on its next two possessions, ending the game without a victor.
“We came in here to win this game, believing that we could win this game, so to walk off the field without a win it’s a different feeling,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “It’s a weird feeling.”
An empty feeling is perhaps more appropriate. The Vikings failed to capitalize fully on a powerful rushing performance by Peterson (146 yards) and Toby Gerhart (91 yards).
The defense buckled in the fourth quarter as Flynn found his rhythm. The Vikings could have closed out the game, but Flynn connected with James Jones for a 28-yard completion on fourth-and-6 with 1:17 left.
Everson Griffen had jumped offsides, giving Flynn a free play. He lobbed a pass downfield to Jones, who freed himself from cornerback Marcus Sherels. That set up Crosby’s game-tying field goal.
The Vikings committed six defensive penalties in the fourth quarter and overtime alone. A holding penalty on safety Robert Blanton negated a third-down sack by Chad Greenway in overtime. The Packers converted that second chance into a field goal.
“We shot ourselves in the foot with some penalties,” Allen said.
The offense could say the same thing. Clinging to a three-point lead with 3:24 left in regulation, the Vikings went three-and-out. Christian Ponder bobbled the snap on second down and then stumbled for a 3-yard loss. He was sacked on third down.
Ponder’s receivers let him down, too. Patterson, Greg Jennings and Jarius Wright all dropped catchable passes.
On Patterson’s overtime drop, Green Bay’s Davon House got a fingertip on the ball at the last second and Patterson bobbled it as he went out the back of the end zone. The Vikings had to settle for a 35-yard field goal by Blair Walsh.
“No excuse,” Patterson said. “He tipped it. I lost focus a little bit, which I shouldn’t. I’m supposed to come down with that ball, and we’re supposed to win that game.”
Jennings dropped a pass on the next series on third-and-5 near midfield with 2:07 remaining. The former Packer, at the end of his first return visit to Lambeau Field, had a perfectly placed pass bounce off his hands.
“I’d like to have a lot of things back,” Jennings said.
Instead, the Vikings were stuck with a tie and the dissatisfaction of a missed opportunity. As he dressed in a nearly empty locker room, Patterson attempted to put the best possible spin on the outcome.
“Anything is better than a loss right now,” he said.
True, but what happened Sunday was only slightly better.