By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Nov 18, 2002 at 5:10 AM

At least one Packers fan at a local pub shouted out at the end of Sunday's loss, "that damn dome." You can bet Brett Favre and his teammates were thinking the same thing as they dropped their ninth game in the last 11 at the Metrodome.

This time a Vikings team that was only 2-7 managed to beat the Pack, 31-21, at the dome. It prevented the Packers, now 8-2, from becoming the team to record the earliest clinching of a division title in history. It also broke a seven game winning streak for the Pack.

"At time point before I retire, I'd like to get another win here," said Favre, who completed 24 of 42 passes for 296 yards, but had three interceptions and completely lost his poise at one point in the contest.

The dome has traditionally done that to Favre. Somehow he doesn't seem as confident in that madhouse of a building. He makes foolish mistakes there. The Vikings always seem to get up for playing against him. Even thought they came into the game ranked dead last in the NFL on defense, the Vikes again gave Favre, and the Packers overall, fits.

"Every time I played over here it's been that type of game," Favre said. "We always seem to get their best, and today was no exception."

Led by Daunte Culpepper, who had been benched the week before, the Vikings scored two touchdowns before the Packers knew what had hit him. In a desperate attempt to catch up, Favre became so frustrated that he hit a Viking out of bounds after an interception and drew a roughing penalty.

"I'm a smarter football player than that," Favre said. "I was extremely frustrated that I didn't make the throw I wanted to."

The Packers did eventually catch up, but could not stay even, as the Vikings scored the last 10 points of the game. A big kick return by Moe Williams, and Michael Bennett's 62-yard run late in the fourth quarter were absolute keys for Minnesota.

Favre and the Packers couldn't muster much offense after they had tied the score, 21-21. "We did have our opportunities to win," coach Mike Sherman said. "We just didn't make the plays when we had to."

Wisconsin factor

Two players for the Vikings, return specialist Nick Davis and Bennett, played at Wisconsin. Bennett was a major factor in the Minnesota win, with 130 yards on 20 carries.

His 62-yard run in the fourth quarter set up the final Vikings' score and for all practical purposes killed the last chance the Packers has for a comeback.

Time goes by

In addition to the Vikings, the Packers have to battle a loud, partisan crowd in the Metrodome and at times even some hometown timekeepers. The officials had to correct the clock a couple times because the timekeeper was a little slow stopping it when the Vikings needed more time to score before halftime. The timekeepers have been an issue in some previous games in the dome.

Players of the Game

Culpepper, who passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third, and Bennett get the overall offensive honors. Greg Biekert, who picked off Favre twice, gets the defensive honor.

Give the Packers' offensive honor to Donald Driver, who caught an 84-yard touchdown pass that tied the score. Marques Anderson, who had an interception and fumble recover, gets the Green Bay defensive honor.

Plays of the Game

It was a game of big plays, but Bennett's 62-yard run really iced the contest. Biekert's two interceptions also were big plays. So was that return by Williams.

Perhaps the plays that best symbolized the frustration of the day for the Packers came when Favre got into the faces of some Vikings' players in the second quarter and then drew a penalty for a late hit out of bounds.


Goats of the Game

It's hard to give a set of goat horns to a guy who throws for 296 yards and is your go-to guy week after week, but Favre does deserve them this week. He didn't play to the caliber needed for a win. When he blew his cool, it also had to hurt the confidence and poise of his teammates who look to him so much as a role model and leader.

Ahman Green also gets a set since he was not a real factor and didn't pick up the offensive slack when Favre was struggling.

Cornerback Tyrone Williams had a terrible day on pass defense, but late in the game it looked like he might have had an excuse because he had to leave with a hamstring problem.

Next week

The Packers could be looking at two losses in a row, since they travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Bucs next Sunday. No sweat about the NFL North title. That is a virtual sure thing, but what the Packers really are playing now is the home field advantage in the playoffs. Three losses would drop them into a group of teams vying for it.

"I want them to be mad. I want them to be disappointed," Sherman said about the loss in the dome. "But, at the same time, I want them to be ready for next week."

Gregg Hoffmann writes On The Pack on the days after Packers games and The Milwaukee Sports Buzz on Fridays for OMC.

Gregg Hoffmann Special to
Gregg Hoffmann is a veteran journalist, author and publisher of Midwest Diamond Report and Old School Collectibles Web sites. Hoffmann, a retired senior lecturer in journalism at UWM, writes The State Sports Buzz and Beyond Milwaukee on a monthly basis for OMC.