Aaron Rodgers is undefeated as a starting quarterback in the National Football League, leading the Packers to a 24-19 triumph over the rival Minnesota Vikings on ESPN. The Packers see-sawed control with the Vikings, with Minnesota controlling the first and third quarters and Green Bay controlling the second and fourth. However, the lead wasn’t safe until 1:08 left in the game when an errant Tarvaris Jackson pass was picked off by Atari Bigby to seal the victory.
The first quarter was a defensive slugfest with the score at 0-0 after the first fifteen minutes. Early in the second quarter, the Packers defense held strong, stalling the Vikings in Packers territory which lead to a Ryan Longwell field goal and a 3-0 lead for the Vikings. The Packers answered with a five-play, 62-yard drive, aided by countless defensive penalties on the Vikings. The flagship play of the drive was a 56-yard throw over the middle to Greg Jennings. Rodgers put the ball in the perfect position for Jennings to get, and the third-year man out of Western Michigan did the rest. The Packers scored a few plays later on Korey Hall‘s first career NFL touchdown. The guys at ESPN could not get off this play, as Rodgers went to the fourth receiver in his progression and hit Hall while falling backwards. The Packers added a field goal with 3:26 left in the half and 10-3 lead. Here’s where my problem with Mike McCarthy. With time winding down in the first half, LET RODGERS TAKE A SHOT. Instead of taking a risk, McCarthy took the clock down to :04 before sending Mason Crosby and the kicking team out. It was blocked. If the Packers lost by three or four points, I would have been furious.
The Vikings opened up the second half with another Longwell field goal, cutting the lead to 10-6. The Packers appeared to answer on a 68-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver, but it was nullified because of another penalty on Tony Moll. Moll was penalized often Monday night, but I’ll get to that later. The Packers made up for the mistake by stopping the Vikings on the next drive, forcing a Chris Kluwe punt. Oft-injured cornerback Will Blackmon, who I was merciless on on the fact he was having trouble returning punts, took the punt, went up the right sideline and cut back up field and was gone, giving the Packers a 17-6 lead and shifting the momentum back to Green Bay. After the ensuing kickoff, the Vikings embarked on a 15-play, 79-yard drive that ended with a 4th-and-1 touchdown pass from Jackson to Sidney Rice, a 23-yard completion. The Packers snuffed out the two-point conversion attempt.
At this point, I got the jitters. A 17-12 lead is not a safe lead. The Packers couldn’t get anything going on their next possession and neither could the Vikings. The Packers took over a critical possession with 8:34 left on the game clock. It seemed like they were just going to run the clock down as much as possible and try to add another field goal, when Ryan Grant broke off a 57-yard run down the Minnesota two-yard line. After a penalty put the ball on the one, Rodgers took it up the gut for the Packers third touchdown of the game, giving them a 24-12 lead after the Crosby extra-point was good. Rodgers relished in his first Lambeau Leap ever, endearing himself to the fans.
The game was not over yet, as the Vikings responded with an 11-play, 80-yard drive in 3:24, capped by an Adrian Peterson touchdown. The extra point was good, and the Packers lead was cut to only five, 24-19. The Packers failed to run the clock down on their next drive, giving the Vikings the ball with 1:51 remaining. However, Jackson came through for all us Packer fans, throwing an interception to Bigby in Green Bay territory. Rodgers kneeled, and he had his first victory as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Rodgers was definitely the MVP of this one. He completed 18 of 22 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. He also had eight rushes for 35 yards and a touchdown. Undefeated as a starter!
Tags: Aaron Rodgers Adrian Peterson Atari Bigby Chris Kluwe Donald Driver Greg Jennings Mason Crosby Mike McCarthy Minnesota Vikings Ryan Grant Ryan Longwell Sidney Rice Tarvaris Jackson Tony Moll Will Blackmon