8:30 PM ET, October 27, 2013
Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, MN
There's a powerful running game on his side now, as if Rodgers needed any more help.
Ignoring the injuries around him, Rodgers picked apart what's left of the Minnesota Vikings' depleted defense by throwing two first-half touchdown passes to Jordy Nelson and guiding the Packers to a 44-31 victory Sunday night.
More Packers-Vikings coverage
Packers WR Jordy Nelson put on a show from the slot and did it in front of former teammate Greg Jennings, who was a non-factor, writes Rob Demovsky. Blog
Leslie Frazier took over the Vikings after a 2010 blowout loss to the Packers, and a similar loss has him on shaky ground, writes Ben Goessling. Blog
"I think this is really shaping up to be one of Aaron's best years," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Aaron's had a lot of challenges Monday through Saturday that don't show up on the stat sheet, just trying to get on the same page with younger players and trusting the game plan."
"We expect greatness out of our guys," Rodgers said.
Christian Ponder's encore went poorly for the Vikings (1-6), who sent out a different starting quarterback for the third straight week. Adrian Peterson gained a quiet 60 yards on 13 carries, Greg Jennings had just one catch against his old team and the Vikings' offense counted only three plays in the third quarter as the Packers pulled away in their final game at the Metrodome, now known as Mall of America Field.
Ponder didn't turn the ball over, but he was again out of sorts under pressure in the pocket. He finished 14 of 21 for 145 yards against a defense missing three starting linebackers to injury and added a late touchdown run. Coach Leslie Frazier said he hadn't decided whether Ponder would keep the job for another game.
The Vikings beat the Packers 37-34 last December to make the playoffs. But they needed 199 yards rushing from Peterson and the best game of Ponder's career to do it, because Rodgers has rarely found resistance from this defense in purple. In his last eight games against the Vikings, he has 22 touchdown passes and only three interceptions while completing roughly three-quarters of his passes. The Packers have won seven of those.
Giving It A Good Run
Minnesota's Cordarrelle Patterson took back Sunday's opening kickoff a record 109 yards. Here are the five longest kickoff return TDs in NFL history.
"I wasn't going to let this team beat us," Rodgers said, adding: "A lot was on my shoulders."
Micah Hyde had a punt return for a touchdown for the Packers, who never punted and held the ball for more than two-thirds of the game to counteract Cordarrelle Patterson's opening 109-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Packers have won 15 of their last 16 games against NFC North teams.
"We've got a great team, very well-coached," Rodgers said. "Guys are ready to play. It was loud in here. It was a tough environment, but guys stepped up."
The Packers scored on their first two possessions, running a total of 31 plays for 160 yards that drained 15 minutes and 48 seconds off the clock. Eddie Lacy finished with 94 yards and a touchdown and James Starks ran for 57 yards and a score.
"Everybody wants a 1,500-yard rusher. I've always wanted an 1,100-yard rusher, because I plan on being in the playoffs, so I want him running the same way in January and February as he is in September and October," McCarthy said.
The way Lacy has been pounding the ball, as the leading NFL rookie rusher, Rodgers hasn't had to come up with as many clutch throws with his top targets missing. Lacy and Starks took turns trampling an exhausted Vikings defense, with each guy contributing a touchdown on the ground and the Packers reaching a season-high 182 yards rushing.
"When the heck is the last time the Green Bay Packers rushed for 200 yards on somebody?" defensive end Jared Allen said, slightly exaggerating the total. "If that's not a punch in the gut and a wake-up to people, something needs to be."
The Packers converted 13 third downs and two fourth downs. The only time they had the ball and didn't score was the kneel-down at the end of the game.
"These are the guys we have," Frazier said. "So we've got to figure out schematically what we can do with the guys that we have to be better."
The two longest plays in NFL history have happened at the Metrodome: Patterson's plus a 109-yard return by Antonio Cromartie of a missed field goal for San Diego in 2007. ... The Vikings finished 16-15 here against the Packers. ... Rodgers and Jennings embraced on the field after the game. Jennings made some critical comments about the quarterback in the offseason but Rodgers said Sunday night: "We had a lot of good memories together."
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 27: General atmosphere from the Minnesota Vikings versus the Green bay Packers on...(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from Penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||6.4||5.7|
Comp - Att
Yards per pass
Sacks - Yards Lost
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||2-4||3-4|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||1||1|
|TD||14:47||Cordarrelle Patterson 109 Yd Kickoff Return (Blair Walsh Kick)||0||7|
|TD||07:23||Jordy Nelson 11 Yd Pass From Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby Kick)||7||7|
|FG||10:29||Mason Crosby 30 Yd||10||7|
|FG||05:09||Blair Walsh 36 Yd||10||10|
|TD||03:38||Jordy Nelson 76 Yd Pass From Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby Kick)||17||10|
|TD||01:30||Micah Hyde 93 Yd Punt Return (Mason Crosby Kick)||24||10|
|TD||00:04||Adrian Peterson 8 Yd Run (Blair Walsh Kick)||24||17|
|TD||06:50||Eddie Lacy 1 Yd Run (Mason Crosby Kick)||31||17|
|TD||14:16||James Starks 25 Yd Run (Mason Crosby Kick)||38||17|
|FG||06:10||Mason Crosby 20 Yd||41||17|
|TD||04:42||Toby Gerhart 13 Yd Run (Blair Walsh Kick)||41||24|
|FG||02:53||Mason Crosby 45 Yd||44||24|
|TD||01:24||Christian Ponder 19 Yd Run (Blair Walsh Kick)||44||31|
Adrian Peterson has recorded 13 or fewer rushes in 3 straight games, tied for the longest streak in his career; also recorded 13 or fewer rushes in Week 11, 15, and 16 in 2011. ** Please note: In 2011 Week 11, Peterson left the game in the 2nd quarter with an ankle injury and did not play again until Week 15).
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