The Green Bay Packers got 100-plus yard rushing efforts from both Eddie Lee Ivery and Gerry Ellis as they ran past the Vikings in Minnesota 25-13. The win gave the Packers their first season sweep of the Vikings in 15 years and pulled the team to within a game and a half of first place in the tight NFC Central.
Ivery led the way with 145 yards rushing on 24 carries. He capped the win with a 38-yard touchdown dash in the closing minute of the game that clinched the victory for the Packers. It was the first 100-yard rushing day of Ivery’s career as he overcame the serious knee injury that he suffered in his first NFL game the previous season. His rookie season was limited to 24 yards on three carries.
Ellis gained 101 yards on 15 carries and opened the scoring with a one-yard touchdown plunge in the second quarter.
This was the first time the Packers had two runners go over 100 yards in the same game since John Brockington and MacArthur Lane did it against the Bears on December 16, 1973.
Ivery and Ellis would both go over 100 yards in a game again in the Snow Bowl against Tampa Bay on December 1, 1985.
Ivery was quick to credit his offensive line after the game. “Give the credit to our offensive unit,” the Packers halfback said after the game. “They worked very hard. The line play was great. We executed very well. We knew that one play would break for a TD sooner or later. That really put them away.”
Center Larry McCarren was also pleased with the way his unit performed in the game. “Our production today was very, very good,” he said. “It was a team thing. We did a good job and we very much like to win here, but it would have been OK in Timbuktu, too. I think that’s south of Milwaukee.”
Vikings head coach Bud Grant also praised the Packers running back duo, who both gained more than 1,000 total yards from scrimmage in one of the few highlights of that rough 1980 season. “They’re hard-working, durable backs,” Grant said. “They’re not the fancy, dandy guys but they can pick ‘em up and lay ‘em down.”
The Vikings still played outdoors in those days at the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. The run blocking was important because it was 39 degrees with a gusty 14 mph wind that made throwing the football challenging when the wind was in your face.
Quarterback Lynn Dickey was efficient, completing 13-of-21 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown toss was a 35-yarder to wide receiver Aundra Thompson which put the Packers ahead 16-6 in the third quarter. Dickey was playing hurt but he toughed it out and had a strong game.
“It was a typical pro’s performance,” Packers head coach Bart Starr said after the game. “He was playing with an injury and he was playing with pain.”
James Lofton led all Packers receivers with five catches for 93 yards while tight end Paul Coffman added three catches for 47 more.
A weak point of the game for the Packers was the kicking game. Kicker Tom Birney missed two of three extra point attempts and one of his two field goal tries. He inspired so little confidence that the Packers went for a fake late in the third quarter on 4th-and-goal from the Vikings five but holder David Beverly was topped for no gain.
“It was a little shaky,” Starr admitted when asked about the kicking game. “I was sweating it down to the wire. We were lucky not to have that hurt us.”
The former Michigan State star was the last straightaway kicker in Packers history and Starr let him go after the game. For the final four games of the year, the Packers signed former Chiefs kicker and future Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud. Stenerud would remain the Packers kicker for the next three seasons.
The win improved the Packers record to 5-6-1 and the NFC Central was tight with the Vikings at 6-6. Detroit was in first place at 7-5.
Unfortunately, the Packers would not win another game all season, finishing the year with a 5-10-1 mark. They were outscored 107-13 in the final three games of the season.
But for this one game, the team had run their way past the Vikings and given their fans hope that better things were coming.
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