Mr. Rodgers’ neighborhood: Packers top Vikings 44-31
MINNEAPOLIS — The Green Bay Packers proved they found their way, while the Minnesota Vikings remain lost.
In a game far more one-sided than the score would indicate, the Packers rolled to a 44-31 win over the Vikings at Mall of America Field on Sunday night.
Green Bay (5-2) scored on each of its first eight possessions — five touchdowns, three field goals — before quarterback Aaron Rodgers took a knee twice to end the game.
Rodgers was ridiculously effective, no surprise given his history against Minnesota. After entering the game with a career 116.4 passer rating in regular-season games vs. the Vikings, he completed 24 of 29 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns.
Packers receiver Jordy Nelson, who finished with seven catches for 123 yards, caught both of Rodgers’ scoring passes in a balanced onslaught that saw Green Bay run for 185 yards against the hapless Minnesota defense.
Running backs Eddie Lacy (29 carries, 94 yards) and James Starks (seven carries, 57 yards) each ran for scores for Green Bay, which posted its highest-ever point total in the Metrodome.
It was an amazing offensive performance. The Packers finished with 464 yards, went 13-for-18 on third down and 2-for-2 on fourth down. They held the ball for an incredible 40 minutes, 54 seconds.
Green Bay didn’t give Christian Ponder enough to time to prove he should remain at quarterback for the Vikings (1-6).
Ponder was back in the lineup because of Josh Freeman’s concussion-like symptoms, but it didn’t matter as the Vikings lost their third straight game in desultory fashion.
Ponder completed 14 of 21 passes for 145 yards, but much of the yardage came late. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had 60 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
Up by 24-17 at the half, Green Bay opened the third quarter with an 80-yard touchdown drive. A 74-yard scoring march following, boosting the Packers’ lead to 38-17.
The Vikings got the game off to a raucous start when rookie Cordarrelle Patterson took the opening kickoff 9 yards deep in his end zone and burst up the middle for a 109-yard return to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead. It was Patterson’s second kickoff return for a score, and each was game-openers.
The Packers were not fazed, as they proceeded to score on each of their first-half possession.
Taking the ball at their 10-yard line after the kickoff following Patterson’s score, Rodgers completed six of seven passes for 61 yards in a 14-play, 90-yard drive. The Packers converted four times on third down and tied the game 7-7 on Rodgers’ 11-yard pass to Nelson.
After a Vikings punt, the Packers drove 70 yards in 17 plays to take a 10-7 lead on Mason Crosby’s 30-yard field goal. At that point the Packers had held the ball for nearly 16 of the game’s first 19 1/2 minutes, converting on third down seven times, matching a season high.
Then Minnesota received a gift. A personal foul on Packers defensive end Dantone Jones on Ponder’s third-down incompletion kept a Vikings drive alive, culminating in Blair Walsh’s 36-yard field goal with 5:09 left in the half that tied the game, very briefly, 10-10.
The Packers scored three plays later, a 76-yard Nelson touchdown. He caught Rodgers’ pass 6 yards downfield, broke Chad Greenway’s tackle and was off.
Green Bay went up 24-10 on Micah Hyde’s 93-yard punt return.
Ponder, completing four of five passes, drove the Vikings 77 yards for their first offensive touchdown in two games. Two plays after a pass interference-call on Tramon Williams, Peterson ran 8 yards for a score with four seconds left in the half, pulling the Vikings within 24-17.
Notes: Joey Browner, one of the best safeties in Vikings history, was inducted into the team’s ring of honor at halftime. Drafted by the Vikings in the first round in 1983, Browner played for the team through the 1991 season, making the Pro Bowl six times. He was first-team All-Pro three times and was selected a member of the NFL’s all-1980s team. ...The banged-up Packers were without LB Nick Perry (foot), LB Brad Jones (hamstring) and WR James Jones (knee). That was in addition to LB Clay Matthews (thumb), TE Jermichael Finley (back) and TE Ryan Taylor (knee), who were ruled inactive during the week. Andrew Quarless started for Finley, Jarrett Boykin for Jones, Mike Neal for Perry, Jamari Lattimore for Jones and Andy Mulumba for Matthews.