The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings battled to a 29-29 tie at Lambeau Field in Week 2. The Packers held a 20-7 lead entering the fourth quarter and had many chances to put this game away. Instead, the Vikings were able to rally behind Kirk Cousins and force overtime. The Vikings missed a pair of field goal attempts in overtime and the game ended in a draw. This was the first tie between the Packers and Vikings since 2013 when the Pack and Vikings settled for a 26-26 draw at Lambeau Field.
Here is a look at six key plays that cost the Packers a chance to start theirs season 2-0:
1. 6:47 remaining, 3rd Packers ball 3rd and 4 at the Minnesota 12. Rodgers passes to Jimmy Graham for a touchdown. Lane Taylor was called for holding on the play and the six points came off the board. Two plays later, Mason Crosby kicks a 40-yard field goal and the Packers lead 20-7. A touchdown would have made this a 24-7 game and the Vikings would have needed three scores to take the lead.
2. 7:29 remaining, fourth quarter. Packers leading 23-14. Vikings have the ball 2nd and 10 at their own 25. Kirk Cousins finds Stefon Diggs for a 75-yard touchdown pass. The Vikings were within two points and right back in the game. At the very least, the Packers defense needed to make the Vikings earn their points during a long, time-consuming drive. This play changed the momentum of the game and showed that Minnesota was not dead yet.
3. 2:00 left, 4th Packers ball 2nd and 10 at the Minnesota 13, Green Bay ahead 26-21. Mike McCarthy calls a pass play and Rodgers’ toss for Davante Adams deep down the left side falls incomplete. This stops the clock and saves Minnesota a valuable timeout.
4. Two plays later with 1:54 left in the 4th quarter, Packers face a 3rd and 15 after a delay of game penalty. Again, the Packers pass the football and Rodgers cannot find Adams, stopping the clock and saving the Vikings another timeout. Crosby kicks a 36-yard field goal on the next play and the Packers lead 29-21. The Vikings still have 1:49 left and two timeouts, down by just one score.
5. 1:45 left, Vikings ball 1st and 10 at their own 25. Jaire Alexander intercepts Cousins pass intended for Stacy Coley. It seemed like game over, but Clay Matthews was called for roughing the passer and the interception was negated, giving the Vikings an automatic first down. This was the second straight week that Matthews was called for a potentially critical roughing the passer penalty late in the fourth quarter. Cousins took full advantage and the Vikings scored with 36 seconds left and tied the game by making the two-point conversion. The call was certainly controversial, but unlike last week against the Bears, the Packers defense was unable to stop the drive and seal a victory.
6. 5:17 remaining in OT, Packers ball 2nd and 1 and the Minnesota 37. Rodgers was supposed to keep the ball and roll out and throw a short pass to Adams for a first down. Instead, he stumbled and fumbled the ball. Although Rodgers recovers, the play loses three yards. Instead of 1st and 10, it’s 3rd and 4. On the next play, the Vikings sacked Rodgers, taking the Pack out of field goal range and forcing a punt. The Packers never got the ball back.
Had any one of these plays turned out differently, the Packers would have started the season with a 2-0 record and two division wins. Instead, the Packers are 1-0-1 as they head to Washington to take on the Redskins in Week 3.
There are still reasons for optimism as the Packers went toe-to-toe with one of the NFC’s strongest teams with their franchise quarterback far from full strength.