From the mind of Berzerker88 and keyboard of Greediron (VikeFans.com members)
The Vikings and Packers have plenty of history wrapped up in their rivalry and this game was no different. A monumental game to open the new USBank Stadium, and it lived up to its billing. Big plays, big stops and turnovers dominated the story lines. To the surprise of no one (save lady luck and her fickle influence on bouncing oblong spheres), Zimmer’s defense made another play to change the momentum of the game.
We debut a new feature on Vikefans.com for our home games, called USB Drive of the game. We will look at offense and defense, good and bad to find one drive that helped to define that win or loss.
For this game, we look at the Vikings defense turning the tide, swinging the momentum away from the Packer offense at a critical time in the fourth quarter. The Vikings led by 3 after the Packers had just marched down the field and scored on a Rodgers scramble. The Viking offense wasn’t able to overcome a 15 yard penalty on Diggs and was forced to punt. After the Vikings 3 and out, the Packer offense started at the 15 and looked to continue their recent success. A big run by Lacy and some quick passes moved the Packers out of the hole and near midfield. Rodgers to Rodgers moved them across the 50 with a big gainer. Brian Robison was in coverage for that play and the defense was on its heels.
The defense had punished Rodgers all game long. Already logging 3 sacks and forcing 3 fumbles, 2 from the careless Rodgers. But the ball was bouncing the Packers way all night. Three fumbles and 3 times the Vikings failed to secure the ball. And as any longtime Viking fan knows, the feeling of dread was growing. Too many times this team has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Too many great performances were ruined by one careless pass, 35 consecutive made followed by 1 miss.
But that dread, that glimpse of the curse was lifted in one defining moment. Robison, who had been downfield in coverage of the TE on the previous play, made one of the sweetest pass rush moves of his career. Feigning a passive containment rush, he shuffled at the RT Bulaga like he was reading the play or simply too tired to rush. As the tackle leaned in to engage, he dropped his head. Robison burst passed his outside shoulder with a fierce rip move and closed in on Rodgers. The QB turned to run from the pressure, but held the ball out looking for another big play. One giant chop from Robison’s right hand and the ball was free, finally bouncing into the ample midsection of Shamar Stephen for the Vikings first recovery of the night.
The Viking offense wouldn’t turn it into points, but it didn’t matter. The momentum had shifted. The Packers offense wouldn’t threaten again; Rodgers would be sacked once more, going only 3 of 7 passing for the rest of the night, finally throwing the game sealing interception to Waynes.
Brian celebrated his game changing strip sack with his trademark catch and release. But he seemed to savor this one, admiring it longer than usual, like an angler that after a long day has finally caught that big mouth ass, I mean bass.