Yes, a tie is not a win. And in many ways, it feels just as bad as a loss.
After Sunday’s contest between division rivals the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings ended with both teams failing to put final scoring drives together in the finishing minutes of overtime, both fans and players exited Sunday’s 26-26 game unsure what to think.
On the one hand, the Packers failed to secure a win at home against a struggling 2-8 Vikings team they were expected to beat. On the other hand, Green Bay took a step forward in closing the gap between them and the Chicago Bears (6-5) and Detroit Lions (6-5) for the division title.
Even if this was only a half-step of progress, it’s still something for a team that has been without their starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers for most of November and entered Sunday’s game on a three-game losing streak.
So, how should we feel about Sunday’s tie against the Vikings?
Personally, like most fans, my initial reaction was disappointment. After being down 23-7 heading into the fourth quarter, Matt Flynn led the Packers offense to three straight scoring drives to tie it up 23-23. Flynn’s heroics dug the Packers out of a hole and got them back in the game. There was real hope the Packers would pull off a miraculous come-from-behind victory in overtime and enter this week tied at 6-5 with the Bears and Lions for the division lead.
They had momentum on their side. Flynn was moving the ball. The Packers defense came up with some key stops in the fourth quarter. Things were looking good, and it felt like it was going to be one of those special games at Lambeau Field that could define a season.
Unfortunately, the Packers came up short. Their offense stalled out at the two-yard line on their opening drive in overtime, forcing them to settle for a field goal. A touchdown would have secured the win.
The defense let the Vikings offense, led by long rushes from Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, to drive down to the red zone and get in field goal position to tie the game up. A defensive stop in overtime would have closed the game out and put the Packers back on top in the NFC North.
With two minutes remaining in overtime, the Packers failed to get into field goal range on a drive that was sabotaged by three costly penalties from the offensive line. When the Packers punted the ball to close the game out, you couldn’t help but feel Green Bay let this win slip from them.
Whenever the Packers don’t win on Sunday it’s always disappointing. But here is the good news. By “not” losing the Packers bought themselves a little more time in the race for the division title.
With both Chicago and Detroit losing this week and falling to 6-5, the Packers moved from being a game back in the division lead to half a game back. Now, tiebreakers don’t matter because Green Bay probably won’t finish with the same record as either Detroit or Chicago.
The Packers just have to finish the season with a better record. They don’t have to worry about holding the tiebreaker over either Chicago or Detroit if all three teams finish 10-6. The Packers just need to win and that starts with this Thursday when they travel to Detroit to play on Thanksgiving.
I’m sure the Packers would have rather left Lambeau Field with a win. But honestly, being down 23-7 late in the second half, it’s pretty impressive the Packers fought back to finish the game in a tie. Let’s at least acknowledge how Flynn turned things around when he came into the game.
For a team that has lost three straight and entered Sunday a game behind in the division lead, a tie is a step in the right direction. Now, it’s time the Packers get their first win without Rodgers in the lineup.
Maybe, Flynn can be that spark again this Thursday against Detroit.