Blown call sparked scuffle
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The NFL says the officiating crew at the Packers-Vikings game made a mistake by not blowing the whistle when Minnesota receiver Chris Walsh took a knee in the closing seconds.
Antuan Edwards' hard hit on Walsh sparked a melee in front of the Vikings' bench after Darren Sharper's interception and 66-yard return on the next play sealed Green Bay's 26-22 victory Sunday night.
"You don't lay a lick like that," Vikings defensive tackle Chris Hovan said. "I was infuriated over that."
The league is reviewing the fight and will announce any fines Wednesday or Thursday, spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday.
Hovan and Packers quarterback Brett Favre, who were each fined $5,000 last month for trash-talking each other during a game at Minneapolis, won't face any disciplinary action because their latest verbal spat occurred after the game, a league source said on condition of anonymity.
After gaining 17 yards on a pass from Daunte Culpepper, Walsh took a knee at the Minnesota 43 with four seconds remaining.
Edwards teed off on Walsh, and the Vikings called timeout with one second left, giving Culpepper a chance for one long last pass.
Vikings coach Mike Tice argued that a player cannot be hit after he kneels. But Packers coach Mike Sherman said Edwards was within his rights.
"The whistle hadn't blown and the officials had not said the play was over," Sherman said. "Until the play is over, he had the football, he's a viable threat with the football. So, I don't see how he could have done it any other way."
Jim Daopoulos, the league's supervisor of officials, said Monday that the whistle should have been blown the moment Walsh took a knee.
"Yes, we missed that one," he said.
Daopoulos cited NFL Rule 7-4(a), which reads: "An official shall declare dead ball and the down ended when a player is out of bounds or declares himself down by falling to the ground and makes no effort to advance."
If Edwards would have hit him after a whistle, the Vikings would have gained 15 yards on the personal foul and would have had the ball at the Green Bay 42 for the last-chance pass.
Asked if Edwards should have just touched Walsh down, Sherman said no, because Edwards was trying to force a fumble.
Sherman said Tice didn't bring up the issue when the two spoke Monday about the postgame scuffle.
"Mike's a good guy and felt terrible about how the game ended, as did I," Sherman said. "And I don't anticipate that to happen again."
Tice said the fight brought shame on both teams.
"I don't condone that type of thing, although I'm not a guy to back down from any challenge and don't want my players to back down from a challenge, (but) there is a 60-minute time limit in the game," Tice said.
Biekert, Kleinsasser have muscle strains
EDEN PRAIRIE (AP) -- The Minnesota Vikings' pride was hurting after another narrow loss, but they emerged from their defeat at Green Bay relatively free of injury.
Middle linebacker Greg Biekert, who leads the team in tackles and interceptions, strained his left calf and probably won't get much work in practice this week, coach Mike Tice said.
"We'll see how that progresses as the week goes on," Tice said.
Tight end Jim Kleinsasser has a strained right hip, but Tice said he should be fine.
Running back Moe Williams was listed as doubtful last week, but his bruised heel improved enough for him to rush for 44 yards on a play in the third quarter that set up a touchdown.
Williams, though, hurt his foot on that carry and was ineffective after that. Tice said Monday that Williams was "still limping around pretty good."
INTERFERENCE?: The Vikings are the league's most-penalized team, and Tice set a goal of five penalties or less for Sunday night's game.
They missed by one, getting six fouls for a total of 62 yards. But a questionable pass interference call on Corey Chavous against Green Bay receiver Donald Driver went for 28 yards and fueled the Packers' winning touchdown drive.
"I'm not looking for any excuses," Tice said.
Neither was Chavous, who saw the flag thrown and thought it was on someone else.
"I'm not going to criticize the officials," Chavous said. "There was contact with both of us. I can't really comment on that. I just know it hurt the team."
SCREEN PLAY?: After the Packers scored to take the lead, the Vikings tried a screen pass to Michael Bennett on the first play from their own 34-yard line and 1:06 left.
Bennett had blockers and could've turned it into a long gain, but he was tripped up and lost a yard. It then took the Vikings 27 seconds to get their next snap off, and Daunte Culpepper was eventually intercepted on his final heave at the end of the game.
Some fans were questioning that play call, but Tice defended it.
"People whine about a lot of things when you lose," Tice said. "You talk to a lot of guys who have called plays in this league for many years ... starting with a screen play and getting a first down early is a good thing. It didn't play out that way.
"We could've executed a little better. We had two offenders against one defender, and we didn't make the block. If we could've gotten that done, who knows where Mike would've ended up on that one?"
The 'almost' team lets another one slip away
EDEN PRAIRIE (AP) -- Last week, Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice referred to his charges as the "almost team."
In Sunday night's 26-22 loss to rival Green Bay, they certainly fit that description.
"We're disappointed, obviously, as we have been 10 times this year," Tice said Monday.
The Vikings played, in the coaching staff's eyes, their most-complete game of the season. And they did it in conditions that were, at the very least, adverse.
A thermometer reading in the single digits, a Packers team eager to avenge its defeat at the Metrodome three weeks prior and an opposing quarterback, Brett Favre, who's one of the best of all-time -- let alone one who never loses at home when it's cold.
Yet the Vikings (3-10), who fell seven games behind Green Bay in the NFC North, were dominant at times on Sunday and outplayed the Packers for more than 75 percent of the game.
Michael Bennett surpassed 1,000 yards rushing with his fifth 100-yard game.
Daunte Culpepper -- though the passing game was out of rhythm in the second half -- made smart throws and had only one meaningless turnover, an interception on the game's final play.
Though a questionable pass interference call on Corey Chavous fueled Green Bay's winning touchdown drive, Minnesota -- the league leader in penalties -- committed just six on Sunday.
And Minnesota's 30th-ranked defense played quite well for most of the game, forcing Favre and the Packers into two turnovers that led to 10 Vikings points in the first half.
"I felt that our football team had a determination about it," Tice said, "that we haven't had on the road for 60 minutes."
Minnesota gets another chance this week to end its 17-game skid away from home, with a game Sunday at New Orleans.
"We've just got to put a complete game together," defensive end Kenny Mixon said. "We can't play well for three quarters and lay down in the last one."
Indeed, the Vikings led 22-13 in the fourth quarter before the Packers scored two touchdowns in the final 11 minutes to win.
So on yet another Monday at Winter Park, the Vikings -- in addition to the day's primary topic of conversation, the postgame fracas on the field -- were left to talk about the what ifs.
If they had gained one more first down late in the game. Or made one more stop in the fourth quarter. Or scored touchdowns on two or three of their first three drives instead of only one.
"Almost is not good enough," Mixon said. "Almost isn't going to get it done. That's the story of our year."
Tice was upbeat on Monday, probably because he believes his team has played better in the past four games, despite a 1-3 record, than it has all season.
And those four games have all been against probable playoff-bound opponents.
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