GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins had a classic quarterback duel Sunday, Sept. 16, and neither deserved to lose.
Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson missed a 35-yard field goal wide right on the final play of overtime, and Minnesota had to settle for a 29-29 tie with Green Bay at Lambeau Field. It was Carlson’s third miss in three attempts -- and his second miss in overtime.
Rodgers, questionable for the game after nursing a sprained left knee all week, played from start to finish for the Packers. Injured in the first half last weekend against Chicago and taken off the field on a cart, he returned in the second half to throw three touchdown passes as Green Bay rallied from a 20-0 deficit to win 24-23.
Rodgers wore a brace on his knee that limited his mobility against the Vikings, but he mostly looked like his usual self, completing 30 of 42 passes for 281 yards.
Cousins had even better numbers. The Vikings quarterback completed 35 of 48 passes for 425 yards and four touchdowns, including a 22-yarder to Adam Thielen with 31 seconds left in regulation. A 2-point conversion pass to Stefon Diggs tied the score 29-29 after the Vikings trailed 20-7 to start the fourth quarter.
“What are my emotions?” Cousins said afterward. “I am tired, and I don’t know what to feel after a tie. … It was a great game, and unfortunately we didn’t win.”
It was the second tie at Lambeau Field between the teams in the past six seasons. They played to a 26-26 draw in 2013, one year before Mike Zimmer arrived as coach. This was the first time the Vikings have played in a 10-minute overtime period, which was instituted last season.
“In some ways, I’m ticked off that we didn’t win the game, and in some ways I’m thinking that maybe this tie will help us down the road,” Zimmer said. “It’s way better than to lose.”
Carlson had a hard time feeling positive about anything. He finished the day 0-for-3, also missing wide right on field-goal attempts of 48 yards in the second quarter and 49 yards earlier in overtime.
“It feels terrible,” Carlson said. “Obviously, I let my team down. … It is disappointing for me personally. The team fought so hard.”
Green Bay’s Mason Crosby made five field goals but missed a 52-yard attempt on the final play of regulation that would have won the game for the Packers. Crosby actually made the kick, but it was nullified when Zimmer called timeout just before the play, and his missed his second attempt.
The Vikings, though, had far more special teams blunders than the Packers. On Minnesota’s first possession, Matt Wile’s punt was blocked by Geronimo Allison and recovered in the end zone by Josh Jackson to hand the Packers a 7-0 lead.
The Vikings tied the score 7-7 late in the first quarter on Cousins’ 14-yard touchdown pass to Treadwell. After that, it was downhill for Treadwell, who dropped three passes, including one that resulted in an interception that almost cost Minnesota the game in regulation.
The Packers took a 20-7 lead entering the fourth quarter on Rodgers’ 9-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams in the second quarter and a pair of Crosby field goals. But they couldn’t hold onto it.
“Close to an L,” Rodgers said. “It doesn’t feel great, and then that last play, it’s either an L or a tie. It’s nice to not have a loss on the record right now, but it’s disappointing.”
Rodgers said he was “pretty sore” but never believed he wouldn’t play. His only practice all week was a light workout Saturday.
“I told him after the game that he’s a great f’ing player and that I hate it,” Zimmer said. “And he says, ‘I love you, too.’ … I still think they should trade him.”
Zimmer, though, has a pretty impressive quarterback of his own. Cousins brought the Vikings back by throwing a 3-yard touchdown pass to Diggs early in the fourth quarter, a 75-yard TD pass to Diggs with 7:18 left in regulation and then the last-minute TD to Thielen.
“It just shows how accurate Kirk can be, especially in those critical situations,” said Thielen, who had 12 catches for 131 yards while Diggs had nine receptions for 128 yards.
Cousins’ only interception came when bounced off Treadwell’s hands with the Vikings trailing 26-21. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix returned the pick 24 yards to the Minnesota 13 with 2:04 left in regulation. But the Vikings held the Packers to a field goal with 1:45 remaining, keeping their hopes alive.
Their hopes of winning ended when Carlson missed the two field goals in overtime, but Cousins said the Vikings have to move on.
“You just have to roll with it,” he said. “It’s a team game.”