GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Vikings went into Lambeau Field on Sunday trying to get a win and to stay healthy. Neither quest panned out.
The Vikings were walloped 41-17 by the Green Bay Packers and lost two starting offensive linemen for the game in the first quarter with injuries. Right tackle Brian O’Neill, a 2021 Pro Bowl selection, injured his calf, and center Austin Schottmann, who started his fourth straight in place of Garrett Bradbury (back), was out with an ankle injury . Minnesota also lost linebacker Brian Asamoah late in the game with a knee injury.
The Packers (8-8), who won their fourth straight game, will be the No. 7 seed in the NFC playoffs if they defeat Detroit at home next weekend.
The Vikings (12-4) dropped to the No. 3 seed in the NFC behind San Francisco (12-4), which won 37-34 in overtime at Las Vegas. If the Vikings stay at No. 3, the play open the playoffs against the No. 6 New York Giants (9-6-1).
Sunday’s game was like so many others this season in which the Vikings fell way behind in the first half. They lost 24-7 at Philadelphia and 40-3 at home to Dallas. They did come back to defeat Indianapolis two weeks ago after trailing 33-0 at half in the biggest NFL comeback win ever among their many come-from-behind victories this season.
But there would be no comeback on Sunday. The Packers took control in the first quarter with a a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Kelsean Nixon and a 75-yard interception return for a score by Darnell Savage to take a 14-3 lead. They extended that lead to 27-3 at halftime on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Robert Tonyan and two field goals by Mason Crosby, one from 56 yards that bounced off the crossbar on the final play of the half.
Rodgers completed 15 of 24 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown, and he also ran for a score. Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins had one of his worst games of the season, completing 18 of 31 passes for 205 yards with three interceptions and a dismal passer rating of 49.2
Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson caught just one pass for 15 yards. He didn’t have a reception until the third quarter, and finally got one on his fifth target.
The Vikings started the game well, with safety Josh Metellus blocking a punt for the second straight game to give them first-and-goal at the 1 with 11:50 left in the first quarter. But they couldn’t get into the end zone, and Greg Joseph kicked a 21-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
The Vikings didn’t score again until they were down 41-3 and Cousins hit rookie receiver Jalen Nailor on a 47-yard touchdown pass with 7:36 left in the game. It was the third career catch for Nailor and his first touchdown.