Packers and Vikings played an intense game Sunday, and for the first time in over a month, the Green Bay Packers' locker room was a joyous one because they had a reason to celebrate for beating their biggest rival. The Packers intercepted Brett Favre three times in the second half and survived a few tense moments in the final minute of the game to emerge with a 28-24 victory over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday night before a crowd of 71,107 at Lambeau Field.
"It's just a great win for the team," Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "We know it was Week 7 and you can't make it anything more like that, but we needed a win like this as a team. ... You need to get these wins if you want to be a good team."
Aaron Rodgers passed for 295 yards and two touchdowns as the Packers (4-3) stopped a two-game losing skid and beat their former quarterback for the first time in three meetings.
Favre had seven touchdown passes and no interceptions in two victories over the Packers last season, but he was nowhere near that sharp this time around.
He was 16-of-29 for 212 yards and a touchdown, but the three interceptions left him with a 50.4 passer rating and cost the Vikings (2-4) a shot to move back into the race for the NFC North title.
Instead, it's the Packers who are tied atop the division with the Chicago Bears despite after a heart-stopping victory that helped Green Bay improve to 2-11 in games decided by four points or less since Rodgers took over as the team's starting quarterback in 2008.
The Packers had lost three of their previous four games -- all by three points and two in overtime -- and were hit with a rash of injuries over the last month.Even its lone win during that stretch -- a 28-26 home victory over Detroit on Oct. 3 -- left Green Bay with an empty feeling because it nearly blew a big to the Lions, who were winless at the time.A loss would have been the Packers' third in a row and put them in third place in the NFC North heading into a tough road game next week against the New York Jets."I wouldn't say we needed it bad, but we needed it," Packers free safety Nick Collins said. "We needed to get back on the winning side of things."The Vikings made the Packers work for it. Adrian Peterson rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown and Percy Harvin had 41 rushing yards, 65 receiving yards and a 48-yard kickoff return to put Minnesota in position to beat Green Bay for the fourth straight time.Collins picked off a Favre pass at the Green Bay 23 with 9 minutes, 18 seconds left in the game as the Vikings were driving to take the lead.But Minnesota got the ball back at its own 17 with 6:07 remaining and put the ball in Peterson's hands to drive down the field.Facing a fourth-and-5 from the Green Bay 48-yard line, Favre lined up in the shotgun and hit wide receiver Randy Moss for a 13-yard gain.
After Packers defensive end Jarius Wynn sacked Favre for a six-yard loss on the next play, Favre found running back Adrian Peterson for a 26-yard catch-and-run to the Green Bay 15.Minnesota moved backward on a false start penalty on tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and a 15-yard facemask penalty on right tackle Phil Loadholt, setting up a first-and-30 at the Green Bay 35.For a moment, it appeared Favre would break the Packers' hearts once again when he found Harvin in the back of the end zone with 48 seconds remaining.The play was initially ruled a touchdown, but the replay booth overturned it. It was the third time in the game a Minnesota penalty was wiped out after a replay."It was real crazy -- besides the fact that I could barely breathe," Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji said of the final drive. "We just continued to play and be relentless."Favre hit Peterson for 15 yards on second down and misfired on third down, setting up a crucial fourth-down play from the 20.He slipped as he fired a pass toward Moss, whose touchdown reception earlier in the game was his 15th in 15 career games against the Packers, and the ball sailed too high through the back of the end zone."It was a great feeling," said Packers cornerback Tramon Williams, who helped hold Moss to three receptions for 30 yards. "We went hard the whole game. We were exhausted at the end of the game. Just to get a win like that, the emotions were running high."
The Packers built a 28-17 lead in the third quarter after turning two interceptions by Favre into 14 points.Favre rushed a throw on Minnesota's first possession of the second half as he was being pressured by linebacker Brad Jones and it ended up in the hands of Hawk, who returned it to the Vikings' 41-yard line.The Packers needed just five plays to take a 21-17 lead, with Rodgers hitting wide receiver Greg Jennings for the go-ahead score.On the second play of Minnesota's next series, Favre was hit by Packers rookie defensive end C.J. Wilson as he released a pass that went right to Desmond Bishop. The Green Bay linebacker took the gift -- his first career interception -- and returned it 32 yards to give the Packers a 28-17 lead.But Favre and the Vikings answered with a six-play, 58-yard drive that ended with Moss catching a 4-yard touchdown pass to trim Green Bay's lead to 28-24 with 4:12 left in the third quarter.That set the stage for a wild fourth quarter that saw the Vikings twice drive into Green Bay territory. But both times, a unit that has been crippled by injuries to key players stood its ground."We needed the win just because we're at home and this is our biggest rival," Raji said. "You have to win those games for it to be considered a rivalry."