GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Mitch Berger's ball was all wet, and Brett Favre's was dry enough when it finally got to Antonio Freeman for one of the most spectacular touchdowns in NFL history.
That was the difference in Green Bay's 26-20 overtime victory over the Minnesota Vikings on a cold, wet and windy Monday night at Lambeau Field.
The Vikings (7-2) botched a 33-yard field goal on the last play of the fourth quarter when Mitch Palmer's poor snap slipped out of Berger's hands.
WILLMAR (AP) -- Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman John Randle is about to become backup quarterback Todd Bouman's brother-in-law.
Bouman, a native of Ruthton, has been married to the former Courtney Powers of Willmar for the past three years. They met at St. Cloud State University. And now Randle is engaged to Courtney's sister, Candace, who caught Randle's eye at a Vikings family event. She works for the Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust. A Valentine's Day wedding in Honolulu is set for next year. The Powers sisters are the daughters of Jane Beccue and her husband, Kandiyohi County Attorney Boyd Beccue, of Willmar. The girls were 4 and 6 when the Beccues married.
Boyd Beccue said he doesn't think of Randle as a trash-talking football player but as a "terrific young man" who is a delight to be around.
"The ball was soaking wet," Berger said. "We asked for a dry ball, but didn't get one."
After the Packers won the coin toss and reached the Minnesota 43, center Frank Winters asked for a drier ball on third-and-4.
When the officials obliged, Favre changed the call from a short crossing route to a long "slant-and-go."
That led to one of the most thrilling finishes in the history of Monday Night Football.
"Had it not been for the wet ball (being replaced), we probably would have stuck with the slant," Favre said.
After sending a drenched football to the sideline, Favre launched a deep pass to Freeman, who slipped on the wet grass as cornerback Chris Dishman deflected the ball at the 20.
The ball bounced off the back of Freeman's left shoulder as he rolled over, and he tipped it into his chest with his right hand before it could hit the ground.
Freeman grabbed the ball, jumped up, juked safety Robert Griffith and rumbled into the end zone for the victory.
"Who says football is all skill?" Freeman said. "I got an early Christmas gift. It fell right into my hands. I knew it didn't hit the ground."
It was the first time the Packers (4-5) had the lead against the stunned Vikings, who lost their second straight after starting 7-0.
"I wouldn't call it a miracle. I'd call it a happy moment," Packers coach Mike Sherman said.
Happy moment? Favre was sky-high.
"This rates right up there toward the top," he said. "I don't know if I've ever been part of something like that. That was remarkable, unbelievable."
Safety Darren Sharper, who intercepted two passes, said nothing came close to comparing with this.
"I've seen a lot of endings, but nothing can really measure up to that," he said.
Despite five turnovers to none for Green Bay and 11 penalties for 129 yards, the Vikings were in position to win it on Gary Anderson's 33-yard field-goal attempt in a driving rain on the final play of regulation.
Berger couldn't handle a poor snap by Mitch Palmer, and Tyrone Williams picked off Berger's desperation pass at the 5 as time expired.
"We let the game slip out of our hands," Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper said.
Had Berger spiked the snap instead of rolling to the right, the Vikings would have had a few seconds left for another attempt.
"If I wasn't an idiot, I would have spiked the ball to get another shot at it," Berger said. "For some reason, it didn't cross my mind."
Josh Bidwell's 25-yard punt gave the Vikings the ball at the Green Bay 48 with 52 seconds and all three timeouts left. Randy Moss, who had six catches for 130 yards, caught a 19-yard pass that gave the Vikings the ball at the 15 with 8 seconds left.
"In a game like that, with those kind of conditions, if you've got a chance, you've got to win it," Vikings coach Dennis Green said.
Wet ball or not.
"The rain affected the whole game," Green said. "That's why we kicked right away (on first down)."
Minnesota's Robert Smith rushed for 122 yards on 24 carries and caught two passes for 67 yards, including a 45-yard TD.
The Packers scored just three points off five turnovers, but took advantage of Culpepper's third interception to tie it at 13-all on Ryan Longwell's 31-yard field goal in the second half.
On third-and-17, Smith, who hadn't caught a TD pass since Oct. 5, 1998, took a short pass from Culpepper and blew past arm tackles by two defenders for a 45-yard score and a 20-13 Vikings lead.
Allen Rossum returned the ensuing kickoff a career-high 90 yards before Kenny Wright caught him at the 2. Two plays later, Ahman Green ran for the game-tying touchdown.
Green, starting in place of injured halfback Dorsey Levens, also caught a 5-yard under-handed TD pass from Favre in the first half.
Minnesota 3 10 7 0 0 -- 20
Green Bay 0 10 10 0 6 -- 26
Min--FG Anderson 30, 8:25.
GB--FG Longwell 24, 14:53.
Min--C.Carter 12 pass from Culpepper (Anderson kick), 10:03.
GB--Green 5 pass from Favre (Longwell kick), 6:51.
Min--FG Anderson 48, :00.
GB--FG Longwell 31, 8:48.
Min--Smith 45 pass from Culpepper (Anderson kick), 4:00.
GB--Green 2 run (Longwell kick), 3:32.
GB--Freeman 43 pass from Favre, 11:21.
First downs 22 19
Rushes-yards 33-157 26-81
Passing 250 217
Punt Returns 3-15 1-3
Kickoff Returns 5-103 4-129
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 4-48
Comp-Att-Int 17-35-4 17-36-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 3-26 2-18
Punts 4-41.8 8-35.1
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 11-129 8-63
Time of Possession 35:53 27:46
RUSHING--Minnesota, Smith 24-122, Culpepper 4-20, Kleinsasser 2-9, M.Williams 2-9, Moss 1-(minus 3). Green Bay, Green 23-68, Schroeder 1-12, Favre 1-2, Parker 1-(minus 1).
PASSING--Minnesota, Culpepper 17-34-3-276, Berger 0-1-1-0. Green Bay, Favre 17-36-0-235.
RECEIVING--Minnesota, Moss 6-130, C.Carter 5-59, Smith 2-67, Walsh 2-11, Hatchette 1-5, Jordan 1-4. Green Bay, Freeman 5-118, Green 5-34, Schroeder 4-63, Henderson 3-20.
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