Rich Gannon and the Minnesota Vikings were simply ball hogs.
Gannon guided the Vikings on touchdown drives of 79, 80 and 98 yards, holding the ball for 24 minutes 24 seconds in the second half Sunday and beating the Green Bay Packers, 35-21.
“We mixed it up real well and kept them off balance,” said Gannon, who passed for three touchdowns.
"(Green Bay quarterback) Mike Tomczak was hot in the first half so we knew we would have to control the football. One of the big things is that we kept ourselves in sync. We had second-and-five and third-and-three. We’d struggled all year on third downs but today we didn’t get ourselves in trouble with third and longs.”
The Vikings (6-6) converted nine consecutive third-down plays--eight in the second half--and limited the Packers to 38 yards after halftime.
Green Bay (2-9) had 262 yards in the first half, when it took a 21-14 lead, but in the second half the Packers had the ball for only 5:36.
“We ran the ball well and Gannon made some key plays that pulled it together,” Viking Coach Jerry Burns said. “I wish I knew because I would have turned it up several weeks ago.”
Herschel Walker, who reportedly will not return to Minnesota next season, gained 95 yards in 20 carries and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a five-yard run in the fourth quarter, breaking a 21-21 tie.
Last week in a loss to Chicago, Walker had only 14 yards on four carries.
“We did what it took to win,” Walker said as he left the locker room, refusing to answer questions about his future.
The Vikings used eight minutes on a 15-play, 79-yard drive to tie the game in the third quarter when Gannon connected with Cris Carter for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
After an 80-yard drive to Walker’s touchdown with 14:11 left in the game, Minnesota put the game away by marching 98 yards in 14 plays, using up 6:51 and scoring on Gannon’s five-yard run with only 4:36 left.
Gannon completed 19 of 30 passes for 215 yards--10 of 15 in the second half. Cris Carter had seven catches for 94 yards and Anthony Carter six receptions for 69.
Tomczak passed for 233 yards in the first half and drove the Packers 78 yards in the final two minutes, throwing a one-yard touchdown pass to Jackie Harris to break a 14-14 tie with 13 seconds left in the half. But Green Bay only had three possessions in the second half.
“When they accumulated eight minutes on the clock and scored a touchdown to tie, we were still in the game,” said Tomczak, starting his second game for injured Don Majkowski. “But then we went three plays and out and we were unsuccessful on third-down conversions.
“We only had the ball for really two drives and a last two-minute drive.”
Vince Workman’s one-yard scoring run gave Green Bay a 7-0 lead with 5:20 left in the first quarter.
Gannon passed to Cris Carter for a 29-yard touchdown to tie the game with 1:54 left in the quarter.
The Packers struck back three plays later when Tomczak passed to Charles Wilson, who broke away for a 75-yard touchdown, giving Green Bay a 14-7 lead.
Green Bay seemed headed for another score when Carl Lee intercepted Tomczak’s pass in the end zone early in the second quarter.
The Vikings tied the score again on Gannon’s three-yard touchdown pass to Mike Jones with 1:54 left in the first half.