Lacy, Packers shrug off penalties, feeling sick, and power past Vikings 24-21

November 24, 2014

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reacts after a Packers' touchdown was confirmed by a replay official during the second half.

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.


Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, left, runs from Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers (56) during the second half.

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.

Green Bay 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," Bridgewater said.

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 point.


Green Bay 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 Vikings

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 first half.

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 Sunday.

"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 Packers TD.

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 near midfield.

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 zone.

"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 25 carries.

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."


Associated Press