Vikings' dream of NFC North title ripped apart by Packers
AP

Vikings' dream of NFC North title ripped apart by Packers

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MINNEAPOLIS - Green Bay's defense was a major reason the Packers controlled the NFC North this season.

On Monday night, that defense was a major reason the Packers clinched the North title.

Green Bay limited the Vikings to 122 yards of offense through the middle of the fourth quarter and the Packers held on for a 23-10 lead victory. The game drew a record crowd of 67,157 to U.S. Bank Stadium.

Green Bay started the night 11-3 and with a one-game lead on the 10-4 Vikings.

The Packers took their first lead with two minutes left in the third quarter on a 12-yard run by Aaron Jones. A two-point conversion pass from Aaron Rodgers to Geronimo Allison made the score 17-10.

The scoring drive was set up by Kevin King's interception of a Kirk Cousins pass and King's return of 39 yards to the Packers' 47.

Jones tacked on a 56-yard touchdown run with six minutes left for a 23-10 lead. It was his NFL-leading 19th touchdown.

The Vikings forced three turnovers in Packers territory in the first half but could only translate that into 10 points in taking a narrow 10-9 lead.

On Green Bay's opening drive, Aaron Jones fumbled when hit by linebacker Anthony Barr, and Eric Kendricks recovered at the 34, carrying the ball to the Packers 10 for the Vikings' first golden opportunity. But they stalled on downs, and Dan Bailey kicked a 23-yard field goal.

The Packers answered with a 42-yard field goal by Mason Crosby before the first quarter ended.

On the first play of the second quarter, Rodgers was intercepted by Vikings safety Anthony Harris, who returned the ball to the Green Bay 26. On third down, Cousins hit Stefon Diggs with a 22-yard touchdown pass after Diggs beat cornerback Jaire Alexander to the right pylon, and the Vikings led 10-3.

After Crosby kicked a 33-yard field goal, the Vikings had another great chance after Harrison Smith forced a Davante Adams fumble and Kendricks recovered at the Packers 48. On third down, the Vikings almost pulled off a trick play when Diggs passed to a wide-open Cousins on an end-around. The pass was too far for Cousins, however. The Vikings also failed on fourth down.

The teams exchanged possessions again before Crosby's third field goal of the half, a 19-yarder as time expired.

The Packers outgained the Vikings 221-68 in the first half.

Visit the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com

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