The Vikings are the NFC North Champions after upsetting the Green Bay Packers 20-13 in prime time at historic Lambeau Field. Head Coach Mike Zimmer in his second season guided a young football team to their first NFC North title since 2009.
The Packers had won the NFC North title four years in a row. Vikings star Adrian Peterson ran for 67 yards and a huge third-quarter touchdown, and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn returned an Aaron Rodgers fumble 55 yards for a touchdown. The 11-5 Vikings earn the NFC’s number-three seed and will host the defending NFC Champion 10-6 wild card Seattle Seahawks Sunday at high noon at TCF Stadium.
It was the Vikings’ third-straight win. They played physical, running the football and got after Rodgers on defense with five sacks and forcing two turnovers. Defensive end Everson Griffin was outstanding with two sacks and the big forced fumble on Rodgers, which was returned for a touchdown.
The Vikings finished 5-1 in the NFC North against Chicago, Detroit and Green Bay. It was the first time the Packers had failed to win a Division game to all three teams — Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota — at home since 1968.
Peterson left the game with a lower back injury in the third quarter; he had it x-rayed to make certain there was no spine injury, and he returned and played through it. The Vikings had to survive some big mistakes of their own. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, while being rushed, tried a left-handed pass that was intercepted. And Vikings kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson, after a big 71-yard return, fumbled, which was also recovered by the Packers.
This week the playoffs begin. Twelve teams have qualified for the opportunity to win Super Bowl 50. In the AFC, Denver, New England, Cincinnati, Houston, Kansas City and Pittsburgh qualified in that order.
Denver and New England are number-one and number-two seeds and get first-round byes. In the NFC, Carolina, Arizona, Minnesota, Washington, Green Bay and Seattle qualified in that order. Carolina (15-1) and Arizona (13-3) are top two seeds and get byes.
Seattle is in the playoffs for the fourth-straight season. They played the Vikings on December 6 at TCF Stadium and dominated 38-7. But this time it’s for keeps — the Seahawks are trying to become the first NFC team to reach the Super Bowl three straight years.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.