Poor late-game defense sets stage for Vikings' first draw since 1978
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GREEN BAY, Wis. - Not a single Minnesota Vikings' player on the current 53-man roster was alive when the last time the franchise finished in a tie.
On Sunday, the Vikings relinquished a 23-7 fourth-quarter lead to the Green Bay Packers and finished with their first draw since 1978, which also came against the Packers at Lambeau Field.
"We shouldn't have ties in football," defensive end Jared Allen said. "It sucks. The game should keep going like in college - sudden death. They should throw another five [minutes] on there."
With 14:22 left, the Packers rattled off 172 fourth-quarter yards to set up 13 first downs and 16 unanswered points to force overtime. The Packers left a single point on the field when they opted for a two-point conversion after their first score in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Matt Flynn stepped in relief of Scott Tolzien and led 60-, 77- and 80-yard scoring drives to tie the game at 23-23 with 50 seconds left. Flynn's pocket presence and accuracy helped lift the Packers back into the game, but the Vikings had plenty of self-inflicted wounds.
After just one flag in three quarters, the Vikings committed three penalties on the Packers' first drive of the fourth quarter, including Allen's illegal hands to the face that set up running back Eddie Lacy's three-yard touchdown run.
"It feels more like a loss," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "Especially with the way things went in the fourth quarter. It's the same shoot yourself in the foot things we've done all year."
With the 23-20 lead, defensive end Everson Griffen jumped offside on a 4th-and-6 attempt that would've moved the Packers up five yards had Flynn not lobbed a completion to receiver James Jones for 28 yards over cornerback Marcus Sherels.
The Vikings held the Packers on three tries from the MIN 12 to force the field goal attempt and tie in regulation.
"What do they say? It's like kissing your sister," Allen said.
Safety Robert Blanton filled in the slot cornerback role for most of Sunday's second half and overtime and got flagged for two critical defensive holding penalties in overtime - one declined after receiver Jarret Boykin grabbed a 34-yard pass over cornerback Chris Cook to set up the go-ahead field goal.
Blanton's first call negated Greenway's sack on Flynn, while the second was a moot point as Cook got beat in coverage.
"I had a play where they did a double move on me and I was right in position," Cook said. "But [Boykin] made a great catch. At the end of the day, they made a few more plays than we did to get back into the game. That is the way football goes sometimes."
Many players were conflicted in how to describe the NFL's first tie of 2013. Allen would rather call it a loss, while running back Adrian Peterson was simply glad his team avoided 2-9.
Running back Toby Gerhart, Greenway and others claimed they'd never finished a football game - high school, college or professional - in a tie. Coach Leslie Frazier has more than 30 years in the business as a player and coach and said he's never experienced Sunday's ending before.
"It's a different feeling," Frazier said. "I played in some overtime, coached in some. But I can't remember a tie."