Minnesota Vikings miss chance at control

MINNEAPOLIS -- When the eyes of America are on the Minnesota Vikings, they too often haven't shown up. And cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is getting tired of it.

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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, left, is sacked by Green Bay Packers defensive end Datone Jones right, during the third quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. The Packers defeated the Vikings 30-13. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn / USA TODAY Sports)

MINNEAPOLIS - When the eyes of America are on the Minnesota Vikings, they too often haven’t shown up. And cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is getting tired of it.
In the battle for first place Sunday in the NFC North, Minnesota was manhandled 30-13 by Green Bay at TCF Bank Stadium. It ended a five-game Vikings winning streak and left both teams with 7-3 records - and Green Bay with the tiebreaker advantage.
“Every time we seem like it’s a big-time game, excuse my language, but we (urinate) down our leg every single time,” Munnerlyn said. “We’ve definitely got to fix this if we want to take this team to the next level, to the playoffs, to the Super Bowl.”
Munnerlyn pointed to the Vikings getting walloped at San Francisco 20-3 in the nationally televised season opener on Monday Night Football. In their continued quest for a marquee win, they also lost last month at Denver, but at least that one was close at 23-20.
“You’ve got to be able to win when the whole world is watching,” Munnerlyn said.
Sunday’s game was televised to most of the nation on Fox. Fans saw a Vikings team leading the NFL in fewest penalties get flagged eight times for 110 yards.
Coach Mike Zimmer takes great pride in the Vikings being the more physical team. Against the Packers, they were pushed around in all facets.
Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was sacked six times. And with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completing just 16 of 34 passes for 212 yards, running back Eddie Lacy pounded his way for 100 yards on 22 carries.
“Offensively, defensively, they were the most physical team,” Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said. “They outplayed us. They wanted it more than us.”
After rushing for 529 yards the past four games, Peterson managed just 45 yards on 13 carries as the Packers keyed on him. When he did have a chance to redeem himself, he fumbled.
With the Vikings trailing 27-13 early in the fourth quarter, Peterson gained 10 yards to Green Bay’s 32. He passed the 1,000-yard mark for the season on that run but lost a fumble, and that was the game.
“They caught me slipping on that one, and it really hurt us,” Peterson said.
Plenty, though, hurt the Vikings. The Vikings came up flat in a game that was big enough for Zimmer to have T-shirts made up for the players that said “Beat Green Bay.”
“Can’t win playing the way we did; too many mistakes,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer still hasn’t gotten a marquee win in his two seasons as Vikings coach. The Vikings didn’t beat a team last year that finished with a winning record and they have no wins this season over a team that currently has a winning mark.
The Packers were hungry after losing three games in a row. They knew they couldn’t afford to fall behind two games in the division race.
“We know what we did the first six weeks of the season,” said Green Bay receiver James Jones. “We had to get back to playing our football.”
Jones caught six passes for 109 yards and had a 27-yard touchdown catch on the first play of the fourth quarter while falling out of the end zone that put Green Bay up 27-13. After Peterson cut the deficit to 19-13 on a 6-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, Jones set up his score with 37-yard catch from Rodgers to the Minnesota 27.
The Packers also got a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Randall Cobb with 6 seconds left in the first half for a 16-6 lead. Mason Crosby kicked five field goals, all from more than 40 yards, including one from 52.
Minnesota’s other touchdown came late in the first quarter on a 47-yard pass down the left sideline from Bridgewater to tight end Kyle Rudolph for a 6-3 lead. Kicker Blair Walsh missed the extra point.
Bridgewater completed 25 of 37 passes for 296 yards and rushed four times for a career-best 43 yards. But he faced constant pressure, and penalties too often put the offense in long-yardage situations for a first down.
“That wasn’t like us,” Bridgewater said. “That was uncharacteristic of us with all those penalties. Coach Zimmer’s a tough coach, and we’re going to watch the tape and make sure we make the corrections.”
After all, there remain ample opportunities for the Vikings to get a marquee win. Their next three games are against teams they are battling for playoff positioning: at Atlanta, home against Seattle and at Arizona.

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