Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reacts after a Packers'
touchdown was confirmed by a replay official during the second
MINNEAPOLIS - The ground game with
Eddie Lacy was working so well for Green Bay that even Aaron Rodgers
wanted a running play to try to put Minnesota away.
"I just kind of chuckled, because it's usually the other way
around," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
Lacy and the offensive line delivered a 4-yard run on third-and-2 to
take the clock to the 2-minute warning, and one more first down
sealed a 24-21 victory for the Packers over the Vikings on Sunday.
Rodgers gave Green Bay his usual confident, accurate, productive
game, but the biggest lift came from Lacy in the form of 125 yards
on 25 powerful carries.
"He's agile for a guy his size. He's got a great spin move. He takes
care of the football. He does all the things you want," said
Rodgers, who threw two touchdown passes and again avoided a turnover
while the Packers (8-3) moved into sole possession first place in
the NFC North.
Lacy scored twice, on a run in the first quarter and a catch in the
fourth quarter. The Vikings (4-7) cut the lead to three with 3:23
remaining on Teddy Bridgewater's second touchdown pass of the
afternoon, but the Packers sent in their "Jumbo" set with a sixth
offensive lineman to squelch a comeback.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he should've called for an onside
kick from the 50-yard line, after a roughing-the-passer penalty on
the Packers during the previous play.
"I figured they were going to run the ball three times, and I
figured we could stop them," Zimmer said.
Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, left, runs from Green Bay
Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers (56) during the second
That hasn't happened lately. Three of
Lacy's six 100-yard games have come against the Vikings, and none of
his carries were more demoralizing than those gains of 3, 5, 4, 5
and 10 yards when the Packers got the ball back late in this game.
"He doesn't go down, man," left guard Josh Sitton said. "It's pretty
fun to watch."
He did all that sick, too. Lacy left the locker room without
speaking to reporters because he was ill, the Packers said.
Green Bay beat Philadelphia 53-20 and Chicago 55-14 the last two
games, so this was quite the contrast. The weather was a nonfactor
at 49 degrees at kickoff, the first time these rivals played outside
in Minnesota since 1981, but many of the next five games promise to
be cold. Plus, the playoffs.
"You have to win close games this time of year," said McCarthy, who
passed Vince Lombardi for second place on Green Bay's all-time
regular season wins list. He raised his record to 90-48-1, including
14-4-1 with five season sweeps against the Vikings since arriving in
2006. The Packers are 9-1-1 against their border-state rival in the
last 11 games.
Bridgewater finished 21 for 37 for 210 yards and an interception. He
ran for 32 yards on five attempts, too, but far too many of his
passes were off the mark. Bridgewater hit Greg Jennings on a short
crossing pattern and Charles Johnson on the same play for the
2-point conversion that pulled the Vikings within three at 24-21,
and he found Johnson from 22 yards out in the second quarter to tie
the game at 7.
Packers running back Eddie Lacy, right, runs from Minnesota
Vikings strong safety
Robert Blanton during the first half.
But after the third of four Packers
punts, Bridgewater's throw to Jennings sailed again into traffic
where Micah Hyde made a leaping interception before landing hard on
his back at his own 47.
"It was just a poor decision and a ball I should've thrown away,"
Rodgers needed only four plays to put the Packers back in the end
zone. He rolled to his right and heaved a high throw across the
entire width of the field to tight end Richard Rodgers standing
alone in the far corner.
The Packers put up halftime scores the last two weeks found more
often in video games, 30-6 over the Eagles and 42-0 against the
Bears, so the Vikings had to be satisfied with a 14-10 deficit and
the ball to start the third quarter. The reality was that better
quarterback play could have given them a comfortable lead by that
Packers free safety Micah Hyde, left, intercepts a pass in front
of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings, right, during
the first half.
Stopping the run has been a problem,
too. For all the success the Vikings had covering Randall Cobb and
Jordy Nelson, holding them each under 100 yards for only the fourth
time this season, Lacy was simply too much for them to handle.
NOTES: Rodgers has 32 touchdowns and just four interceptions
in 14 career starts against the Vikings. ... This was the first
touchdown for Jennings in four games against his former team. He has
a total of nine catches for 107 yards. ... Vikings RT Phil Loadholt
was scheduled for an MRI on his left shoulder.
Bridgewater's rough start dooms
MINNEAPOLIS — With the poise of a veteran,
Teddy Bridgewater drove the Minnesota Vikings 79 yards for a
touchdown in the fourth quarter that put their game against Green
Bay well within reach.
If only the rookie quarterback could have been that sharp in the
Bridgewater got off to a jittery opening in his first game against
the Vikings' biggest rivals, missing open receiver after open
receiver, and it cost them dearly in a 24-21 loss to the Packers on
"I think I was just very excited being able to play the Green Bay
Packers for the first time," Bridgewater said. "I just have to
settle down and remain poised and just let the game come to me."
On Minnesota's final drive of the game, Bridgewater completed eight
of 10 passes for 69 yards with a touchdown and a 2-point conversion
throw that brought the Vikings (4-7) back to within a field goal
with 3:23 to play. On his previous eight drives, he was 13 for 27
for 141 yards with one touchdown and one interception that led to a
The performance followed what has become a pattern for the
first-round draft pick: start slow while missing open receivers on
deep throws, calm down and play much better in the fourth.
"I didn't think he was as accurate as he normally is early in the
ballgame," coach Mike Zimmer said. "He had a couple of high throws.
He had a couple of missed throws. He seems to settle down in the
second half and kind of get more comfortable."
It started on the opening drive when receiver Charles Johnson was
wide open down the field on third-and-7, but Bridgewater overshot
him. His passes floated, fluttered and wobbled for most of the first
half, particularly on one into double coverage down the Packers
sideline in the second quarter that was intercepted by Micah Hyde
Aaron Rodgers took advantage, quickly driving down the field before
rolling right and throwing all the way back across the field to
Richard Rodgers, who was all alone in the far corner of the end
"With Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, you want to sustain drives,"
Bridgewater said. "You don't want to give them a short field. Their
offense is a high-powered offense and they're capable of scoring and
taking advantage of your turnovers."
And yet the Vikings' defense kept the team in the game while
Bridgewater tried to find his bearings.
The Packers (8-3) entered having scored 108 points in the previous
two games and having only punted five times in past three. But they
punted four times Sunday and Rodgers was held to 209 yards passing
with two touchdowns, pedestrian numbers for the high-octane Packers.
But when the Vikings needed their defense the most, they couldn't
quite come through.
After Bridgewater's 5-yard TD strike to Greg Jennings and 2-point
pass to Johnson in the fourth, Zimmer elected to kick the ball deep
rather than try an onside kick.
"I figured they were going to run the ball three times and I figured
we could stop them," Zimmer said.
Eddie Lacy churned out two first downs, and the Packers were able to
run out the clock. Lacy finished with 125 yards and a touchdown on
Johnson had three catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. But he was
targeted 11 times, with Bridgewater missing him on multiple
occasions. One that Bridgewater wish he had back came on third-and-9
from the Packers 33, when the defensive back fell and Johnson was
wide open on a corner route. Bridgewater's errant throw made Johnson
make a difficult adjustment, and the pass slipped through his hands
to force the Vikings to settle for a field goal.
"Charles ran a great route and all I had to do is lay it out there
and give him a chance to make the catch," Bridgewater said. "It was
one of those plays we hit throughout the week in practice and today
we just didn't get it."