Rapid Reaction: Packers 24, Vikings 10
January, 5, 2013
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A few thoughts about Saturday's events at Lambeau Field:
What it means: The Green Bay Packers advanced to the division round of the NFC playoffs, winning a home playoff game for just the third time in their past seven attempts. They will play at the second-seeded San Francisco 49ers next Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.
Why pass? It's difficult to understand why the Minnesota Vikings tried to use backup quarterback Joe Webb as a pocket passer, in the process getting away from the read-option look with which they opened the game to much success. Webb ran for 22 yards on the Vikings' opening drive using the option, but for a long stretch thereafter, they used their conventional offense. Webb's inaccuracy proved comical at times, and the decision to put him in that position rather than play to his strengths mandates postgame scrutiny. Webb finished the game with 11 completions (in 30 attempts) and 68 rushing yards.
What I liked: The Packers were fully stocked at receiver for the first time in months, but they were more than happy to balance their play calling and spread their passes around the field. Running backs DuJuan Harris and John Kuhn combined for three touchdowns on 20 carries and seven receptions.
What I liked 2: The Packers' defense did a good job in its third swing at slowing down Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson, who ran for 99 yards on 22 carries but didn't have a run longer than 18 yards. For the most part, Peterson couldn't bounce his runs outside the tackles and down the sideline as he did so frequently in his 409-yard regular season against the Packers. The return of defensive back Charles Woodson seemed to make a difference for the Packers.
What I can't get upset with: On Twitter and on our Countdown Live chat, many of you wondered how Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder could miss a playoff game with an injury that didn't force him to miss a snap in last week's victory over the Packers. At this point, we don't have enough information about his sore elbow to conduct an educated analysis. I will say this, however. For a quarterback, I'm not sure there really is such a thing as "toughing out" an elbow injury. If the injury prevents or even limits your throwing, you can't play. It's not a matter of pain tolerance. It's a matter of function.
Injury report: Packers tight end Jermichael Finley left the game in the third quarter because of cramps and did not return. Vikings safety Harrison Smith did return after suffering a knee injury in the third quarter.
What's next: The Packers want to avenge their Week 1 loss to the 49ers, who outclassed them 30-22 at Lambeau Field. The Vikings will return home knowing they had a better season than even many of their players thought was possible. With a young roster, their future is bright. But they will be left to wonder whether Saturday's game would have been different with Ponder.