The Packers, behind the nearly flawless performance of Aaron Rodgers, some timely running at the end of the game, and a defense that again bent, but didn’t break, did enough to hold off the Minnesota Vikings and their energetic rookie quarterback, Christian Ponder, 33-27.
Ponder, making his first start with the Vikings (now 1-6 on the season), kicked off the game with a bang by hitting Michael Jenkins for 73 yards and a near touchdown on the first play of the game. However, the Packers defense again came up with some huge defensive efforts when needed and James Starks ended the game with six consecutive runs and a first down to put the dagger into the Vikes’ hearts.
Ponder’s first play heave didn’t account for the Vikings’ first score, but Adrian Peterson banged it in a couple of plays later to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead.
However, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers came right back on their first possession to go 91 yards for a touchdown to tie it at 7-7.
The Vikings defense, behind two sacks by league-leader Jared Allen, held the vaunted Packers offense in check for most of the first half, though Rodgers was dead-on in his passing. He completed his first 13 passes and would have had 14 had rookie Randall Cobb hung onto a pass on a crossing route. His drop came on a third and 16 and it appeared he would have certainly had the first down – maybe even a score.
While the Vikings added another touchdown and field goal in the second quarter, the Packers got two Mason Crosby field goals to cut the Vikings lead to 17-13 heading into halftime.
Then on the second play after the half, Rodgers found Greg Jennings wide open for a 73-yard touchdown and a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Packers won for the eighth time in the last 11 meetings against the Vikings, with two of the Vikings’ wins over that stretch coming when Brett Favre had that breakout season with the Vikings in 2009.
Again, it was one of those games where the Packers took over in the second half and though Ponder got the Vikes to within a score near the end of the game, one had the feeling the Packers would somehow find a way to win it in the end.
They did it with defense, stopping the Vikings with around two minutes left in the game and then by handing it off to James Starks who ripped off three long runs and clinched it by gaining a first down as the clock wound down.
When it was all said and done, the Packers held on for a 33-27 divisional win, and with it went up two games over the Detroit Lions who fell to 5-2 on the season with their second consecutive loss at home. Today, the Falcons defeated Detroit on the Lions’ home turf.
The big statistics on the day for the Packers came from Rodgers who hit on 24 of 30 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns.
Adrian Peterson again couldn’t carry the team alone, though he did rip off 175 yards on the ground and scored one touchdown.
Charles Woodson picked off Ponder twice in the third quarter (Ponder’s only “receptions” of that period) and just missed on another couple of other opportunities for picks.
Though the Packers did get the win it seemed they left a lot of plays and points on the field today. Something hopefully they will be able to clean up with their bye week before traveling to San Diego when they come back to play Nov. 6.