The Vikings needed to play a nearly perfect game to beat the Green Bay Packers Sunday. While the team made some mistakes, the blueprint design for victory was carried out to perfection Sunday, as several factors keyed the victory.
Surprisingly, the biggest turnaround of the game may have been winning the coin flip. VU's own Bob Lurtsema said prior to kickoff to expect to see a no-huddle look from the Vikings. The intent was to speed the ball being snapped, but also to keep the Packers from making defensive changes.
It worked, as the Vikings drove 79 yards in five plays, including passes of 20 and 18 yards to TE Byron Chamberlain and a 24-yard TD pass to Randy Moss to take a 7-0 lead.
After Brett Favre and Co. went out quietly on their first drive, the Vikings went 65 yards in six plays, including a 23-yard pass to Moss and a 18-yard TD to D'Wayne Bates to take a 14-0 lead. The Packers would never have the lead all day.
Amazingly, the Vikings posted nine first downs on their first 11 offensive plays to carve through the Packers defense.
With the lead in hand, the defense was asked to do the job. In Sunday's game, they forced the Packers into six three-and-out drives. When asked if that was clearly a season-high, Mike Tice told VU, "Season high? I think it doubles our total for the entire season."
Despite a strong effort from the defense, when Favre connected with Donald Driver for an 84-yard touchdown, the game was tied 21-21 and it was time for the special teams to provide a spark.
Substitute return man Moe Williams provided the difference with a 51-yard kick return that would lead to the eventual game-winning field goal from Gary Anderson.
The true sign of Vikings dominance in the game was shown by the time of possession in the fourth quarter. With Green Bay needing something huge for a comeback win, the Vikings held the ball for 10 minutes, 23 seconds of the fourth quarter to seal away the win.
Last year when the Packers were riding high and the Vikings were struggling, Minnesota put in a similar performance to beat Green Bay, prompting Favre to say they looked like a playoff-bound team to him. You get the feeling he thinks the same after Sunday, as the Vikings designed and executed a near-flawless gameplan.
* The Vikings rushing game continues to be dominant. Coming into Sunday ranked No. 2 in the NFL, the team added 221 yards on 37 carries to increase their per-game total and lend credence to the fact that the running game can open up the rest of the offense.
* Michael Bennett is alone in the NFL history books. With his 62-yard run Sunday, Bennett became the first player in NFL history to have runs of 60 yards or more in three straight games -- amazing when you consider the types of seasons guys like O.J. Simpson, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Gale Sayers, Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson, Earl Campbell and Jim Brown put together.
* Lewis Kelly was named the Vikings team recipient of the 2002 Ed Block Award. The award is given each year to NFL players that exemplify sportsmanship and courage.
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