It wasn’t as easy or smooth as some predicted it would be but, ultimately, the Green Bay Packers were able to pull out a much-needed 33-27 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday to stay undefeated going into their off-week.
When it was announced early last week that rookie Christian Ponder would be taking over the quarterbacking reigns for the Vikings, the statement had to have been music to the ears of a struggling Packers defense. A defense, mind you, that came into Sunday’s outing ranked 31st in pass protection.
Ponder at the helm of the Minnesota offense meant that the Packers could protect against the run and dare the young passer to do his worst through the air – and that’s precisely what ended up happening.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson shouldered most of the offensive load for the day, racking up 175 yards and a touchdown on a monstrous 24 carries.
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With his running back essentially taking on the defense all by himself, Ponder got some wide open passing lanes to do his business in. When it was all said and done, he finished 13-of-32 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. He also had four rushes for 31 yards.
Still, despite a better-than-expected offensive output from the Minnesota, Green Bay’s MVP-front running quarterback Aaron Rodgers never looked shook. Taking advantage of an admittedly awful Vikings secondary, Rodgers pummeled the opposition to the tune of 335 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
It’s hard to imagine that a healthy Jamarca Sanford, Antoine Winfield or Chris Cook (not injured, jailed) could have hampered with surgical precision with which Rodgers dissected the defense.
Apparently, all of the talk about how Rodgers couldn’t possibly stay as hot as he has been never reached the ears of the defending Super Bowl MVP. On Sunday, he completed his first 13 passes of the day and ultimately had only six incompletions for the entire game.
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As noted by ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, his greatness is historically brilliant at this point:
Rodgers sits atop the NFL rankings in passer rating, QBR, completion percentage (71.5), yards per attempt (9.9) and touchdown passes (20). He's thrown three interceptions, two of which were tipped passes, and he's been incredibly consistent as the first player in NFL history to have a passer rating of at least 110 in each of his first seven starts to open a season.
The totals are absolutely unreal.
It wasn’t all fun and fawning over Rodgers this weekend, though. As hard as it may be to believe given the horrendous current state of the Vikings, this pair of teams once shared a pretty legitimate rivalry. The tension related to that rivalry boiled over when Minnesota defensive end Brian Robison kicked Green Bay guard T.J. Lang in the groin during the second quarter.
The play will probably draw the ire of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Then again, if his creampuff non-punishment of Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh last week was any indication, maybe not.
Kicks in private areas notwithstanding, the Packers find themselves in great position heading into their off-week. Rodgers is playing some of the best football of his career, the offensive appears to be on the same page, and the defense has plenty of time to hit its stride over the duration of the season.
Next up, Green Bay is slated to face the San Diego Chargers on November 6.