The Minnesota Vikings struck quickly in the third quarter Sunday and stayed in the hunt for a playoff berth with a 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Wide receiver Anthony Carter highlighted a 17-point outburst by scoring on a 56-yard flea-flicker play that helped the Vikings (6-6) get their fifth consecutive victory and pull even with the Packers (6-6) in the NFC Central. Green Bay’s loss clinched the division title for the Chicago Bears (10-2).
The Packers took a 7-6 lead three minutes into the third quarter when Tiger Greene blocked Harry Newsome’s punt then grabbed the ball and ran 36 yards for a touchdown.
A 41-yard field goal by Fuad Reveiz put the Vikings ahead, up 9-7 with 2:57
left in the third quarter.
Minnesota forced a punt and, on the next play, Viking quarterback Rich Gannon handed off to Herschel Walker, who pitched back to the quarterback. Gannon heaved the ball downfield even though Mark Lee had tight coverage on Carter.
Carter leaped and tipped the ball away from Lee and, as he was falling into the end zone, grabbed the ball for a 16-7 lead with 54 seconds left in the quarter.
Carter made a similar catch, also a 56-yarder, to key a 27-22 victory over Denver in the game that launched Minnesota’s winning streak.
“I don’t know if another receiver can make that catch,” Gannon said. “In fact, I didn’t think anybody could make that catch and I have a hard time thinking that A.C. could make that catch again.”
On the Packers’ possession after Carter’s catch, Anthony Dilweg was sacked by Al Noga, who knocked the ball away from the quarterback and recovered in the end zone with three seconds left in the third quarter. That capped Minnesota’s 17-point spree in a 2:54 span.
The loss, only Green Bay’s second in its last eight games against Minnesota, ended a three-game winning streak. The Packers are seeking their first playoff berth in a non-strike season since 1972.
“It would be nice to be two games ahead of these guys but now we’re tied,” Green Bay Coach Lindy Infante. “We took a step backward but we’re not out of it.”
The Vikings appeared to be out of it five weeks ago, when their fifth straight loss dropped them to 1-6. Only the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals have made the playoffs after a 1-6 start. Instead, the Vikings have hopes of making their fourth consecutive postseason appearance.
Dilweg, playing for injured Don Majkowski, threw three interceptions, fumbled twice and was sacked five times for 41 yards.