Rodgers leads Packers to rout of Vikings
By Dave Campbell, AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS -- Brett Favre looked ready for retirement, with six likely meaningless games now left for Minnesota in the epilogue of his 20-year career.
Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay's swarming defense sure made it clear who's in charge of this Packers-Vikings rivalry right now.
Rodgers went 22 for 31 for 301 yards, with three of his four touchdown passes going to Greg Jennings. He beat Favre for the second time this season and sent Green Bay to a 31-3 victory over melting-down Minnesota on Sunday.
"This has got me at a loss for words," Favre began his post-game news conference. "Disappointing would be an understatement."
The Packers (7-3) emerged fresh from their bye week and kept pace in the NFC North race with the Chicago Bears (7-3), ruining any realistic hope the Vikings (3-7) had left for another shot at the Super Bowl.
"I hate to use Jim Mora's comments about playoffs, but we can't think about that," Favre said.
Instead, this 100th meeting between these border-state rivals, likely the last for the 41-year-old Favre, was marked by costly turnovers, untimely penalties and even some sideline shouting by the frustrated Vikings to cast further doubt on coach Brad Childress's future with the team.
Owner Zygi Wilf walked sternly out of a silent locker room without commenting.
"I can't really talk about that," Childress said, "because that's not my decision going forward."
The Vikings also lost starting right guard Anthony Herrera to a season-ending knee injury. Childress said he didn't think the Vikings quit, but some players wondered aloud whether everyone's effort was there. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, who chucked his helmet in disgust after a failed fourth down early in the fourth quarter, was the most outspoken.
"If you see something that you have flaws in or you're not good at, you have to stay extra," Shiancoe said. "You have to work at it, correct these mistakes that we're making."
As for Favre's future?
He insisted he's committed to the team and the rest of the season, despite failing to directly answer questions about whether he wants to finish it and vaguely saying he planned to "re-evaluate" the situation on Monday.
"I'm here, and we're in this thing together," Favre said.
Said Childress: "He's always worked his craft. I don't think there's any doubt that it will continue to work as we move forward."
Tramon Williams intercepted Favre to stop a long Vikings drive, and Rodgers took the Packers the other way for a touchdown to James Jones in the final minute of the first half to give the visitors a 17-3 lead.
Favre and close friend Darrell Bevell, the offensive coordinator, were seen on TV snapping at each other on the sideline after the interception. Favre said he and Bevell were "fine" and said he'd have made the same throw again, crediting Williams -- who's having a Pro Bowl-caliber season -- for an exceptional play.
The "Go Pack Go!" cry from the Wisconsin transplants and travelers grew louder as the game went on, with Vikings fans getting in a few "Fire Childress!" chants for good measure.
"I need to say a big thank you to our fans," Rodgers said.
Wide receiver Sidney Rice made his season debut for the Vikings after missing the first nine games following hip surgery, finishing with three catches for 56 yards. But his return hardly gave Favre and the offense a spark. Favre finished 17 for 38 for 208 yards, sailing several passes over the heads of his receivers and facing heavy pressure most of the game.
Favre, who threw a career-low seven interceptions last season, has 17 of them this year. Opponents have taken his 22 turnovers and turned them into 71 points over 10 games, and the Vikings -- who entered the weekend last in the NFL in giveaway-takeaway ratio -- watched their turnover differential fall to minus-13.
With 10 players and five starters lost for the season on injured reserve, plus a stiff second-half schedule featuring a trip to NFC-leading Atlanta next week, McCarthy and the Packers have plenty of work in front of them.
But the steam and swagger they regained in their 28-24 win over the Vikings on Oct. 24 is making them look more like the Super Bowl contender they were purported to be this summer.
"We're going to be tough to beat when we're playing that well," Rodgers said.
The Dom Capers defense has yielded just 10 points in three games since beating the Vikings the first time.
"We've got a foot on the gas, hands on the wheel and we're looking straight ahead," McCarthy said.
The Vikings pressured Rodgers early the way they needed to, the way they did last season, after failing to take him down at all in last month's loss. But he found a rhythm once the strong rush forced him from the pocket and delivered at just the right times.
Jennings had 152 yards on seven catches, giving cornerbacks Asher Allen and rookie Chris Cook a rough time. Cook also got beat for a 39-yard reception by Jones on third-and-10 from midfield before Green Bay's first touchdown.
Safety Husain Abdullah had trouble, too, dropping a must-have interception at the goal line on that same drive and then letting Jennings get in front of him on the next play for an 11-yard touchdown catch after Rodgers ran left to flee the rush to make it 10-3.
"I don't know how good we are. The stars are the limit to how good we can be," Jennings said. "It's all about what we're willing to put forth."
NOTES: The Packers lost both backup safeties to injury, Anthony Smith (ankle) and Atari Bigby (hamstring). ... Vikings DT Kevin Williams had his name misspelled on the back of his jersey: W-i-l-l-a-i-m-s. ... McCarthy improved to 7-3 against Childress. The Packers now lead the series 51-48-1. ... The Vikings, who entered the game tied for 26th in red-zone touchdowns, have reached the end zone only 12 times in 29 possessions inside the 20-yard line this season.