The Minnesota Vikings braved the frigid temperatures of Lambeau Field on Saturday night to shut out the Green Bay Packers, 16-0, the first shut out they have recorded since 1993. The win completes the purple and gold’s first season sweep of their arch rival since 2009.
The offense was out of rhythm for much of the game, likely due to the subfreezing temperatures. Case Keenum went 14 of 25 for 139 yards and a touchdown and took three sacks. Receiver Stefon Diggs led the way with five catches for 60 yards and the touchdown, while Adam Thielen was held to a season low two catches for 24 yards.
The running backs ability to pick up chunk yardage was sporadic in this one, but ultimate served their purpose. Latavius Murray led the way with 69 yards on 21 carries. Jerrick McKinnon chipped in 42 more yards on seven carries.
The Vikings relied on the leg of kicker, Kai Forbath, for the rest of the scoring. He hit all three of his field goal tries on the night to help keep the Packers at bay.
The Vikings defense were the stars of the night. Time and time again, they turned the Packers offense back. The Packers managed to get into the red zone twice, only to come away empty. Harrison Smith intercepted Packers quarterback, Brett Hundley, before halftime on the first trip. The Packers later failed to convert on fourth down early in the fourth quarter, turning it over on downs.
Despite rushing for 113 yards, the Packers offense could not move the ball consistently all night. Hundley completed just 17 of 40 passes for 130 yards and two interceptions, both to Harrison Smith. The Packers lost veteran receiver, Jordy Nelson, during the course of the game, which made the Packers already depleted offensive situation even weaker.
With the win, the 12-3 Vikings kept pace with the 12-2 Philadelphia Eagles for the top seed in the NFC while staying ahead of the Carolina Panthers for the number two seed. A loss by the Panthers on Sunday will clinch a first round bye for the Vikings. If the Eagles lose their final two games, and the Vikings win next weekend versus Chicago, the Vikings will be the number one seed and have home field advantage all the way through the Super Bowl.
- The Minnesota Vikings defense recorded only their second shut out ever of the Green Bay Packers, the other coming back in 1971. The Vikings defense has been on top of their game since coming out of the Week Nine bye, the Panthers game not withstanding.
- Harrison Smith, fresh off of being snubbed for a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl roster, made a critical interception to deny the Packers any kind of momentum shifting score before the half. He may be the best safety in the game today.
- Vikings guard, Nick Easton, left the game with an ankle injury. Head coach, Mike Zimmer, confirmed during the post game interview that it was a broken ankle. In all likelihood, it will end his season.
- The Vikings struggled stretching the field in this one. This writer will chalk it up to the weather conditions. That being said, the Vikings did not have one of their better offensive games from a scheme perspective. They will need to address this and adjust if they end up having to go outdoors during the playoffs.
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