Ever since the neck injury to All-Pro safety Nick Collins in Week 3 of the 2011 season, the Green Bay Packers have struggled at the safety position. Free safety Morgan Burnett ended last season with three interceptions for the year, but was yet to have an interception going into yesterday’s game.
Not only did Burnett get his first interception of the season, he got two interceptions, both of which were huge game-changers that helped the Packers come away with the much needed victory.
At the end of the first half, the Packers were down 14-10 with the Minnesota Vikings getting the ball to start the third quarter. Adrian Peterson, who finished the day with over 200 yards rushing, just rattled off a 48-yard gain that put the Vikings in field goal range and looked destined to score a touchdown. With the Vikings in the red zone and the possibility of going down two scores, the crowd at Lambeau Field was getting quiet and discouraged. Then quarterback Christian Ponder made a mistake two plays after Peterson’s run by throwing across his body into the end zone, where Burnett was waiting to get his first interception of the season.
After the interception, the Packers scored 10 unanswered points in the third quarter to take a 20-14 lead. As the third quarter was winding down, Peterson had another fantastic run, this time for 28 yards. It put the the Vikings in position to score another touchdown. Ponder threw to his favorite target, Kyle Rudolph, but Burnett made the great play of undercutting the route to get his second interception of the day.
“If you can erase a team from getting points on the board, that’s big,” Burnett said. “If you can steal another possession for the offense, that’s real big.”
Both interceptions not only changed the momentum of the game, but also led to two field goals. The turnovers were at least a 12 point swing in the game and in the end was the deciding factor in who won.
The Packers defense has been lacking in interceptions this season, with only 12 before the game against the Vikings. Now they are at 14 for the season and are ranked in the top 10 in interceptions, but for a team that had 31 interceptions last season to lead the league, their interception rate has to be disappointing. Green Bay is a team that gives up a lot of yards defensively and they rely on turnovers to have success on defense. Hopefully for the Packers and Burnett, they can continue creating turnovers and help the team capture another NFC North title.
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