Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) lies on the ground after being hit by Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Anthony Barr (55) in the first half of an NFL football game in Minneapolis, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
MINNEAPOLIS — Aaron Rodgers has engineered
many a last-minute comeback for the Green Bay Packers. He
has a dozen victories over the rival Minnesota Vikings in 10
years as the starter.
This time? No chance. Rodgers was long gone, and so was Green Bay's division lead.
Harrison Smith led the Minnesota defense's thorough dismantling of the Packers, who lost Rodgers to a broken collarbone and left with a 23-10 defeat to the Vikings on Sunday that transformed the trajectory of the NFC North race.
Smith had 1½ sacks on safety blitzes, a diving interception and two pass breakups, helping the Vikings (4-2) limit the injury-depleted Packers to a season-low 227 yards.
"I don't think we altered a whole lot," Smith said. "We had a game plan, and we pretty much stuck to it."
Anthony Barr, who later left with a concussion, delivered the game-changing hit on Green Bay's second drive when he took Rodgers hard to the turf as the two-time NFL MVP followed through on a pass. Rodgers fell on his throwing shoulder, and the Packers (4-2) announced he could miss the remainder of the season .
"I'm not into the soothsaying stuff," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, when asked if he thought the momentum in the division had shifted toward his team. "Obviously he's a great player. It's different when he's not in there. There's no doubt about it. But that's just the way it is."
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes (26) returns an interception against the Green Bay Packers in the second half.
Brett Hundley threw his first career
touchdown pass in relief, connecting with Davante Adams in
the second quarter after a 63-yard return by Clay Matthews
of Jerick McKinnon's fumble gave the Packers the ball at the
Damarious Randall's interception of Case Keenum later in the first half put the Packers at the Minnesota 38 with a prime opportunity to tie the game at the break, but a juggling catch by Ty Montgomery at the goal line was ruled incomplete by replay review reversal that forced a short field goal instead and kept the Vikings in front 14-10.
The Packers had five first downs and 102 yards over the first three quarters.
"That was a hard day," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "All the players that we lost to injury, it was difficult. We all understand the magnitude of what Aaron means to our football team."
The Vikings have won three of their past four games against the Packers after a lopsided five-year stretch against their biggest rival fueled mostly by the mastery of Rodgers. Now the Packers must move forward with Hundley, who has 44 attempts in three NFL seasons.
"We've been put through a lot of tests in the past," Adams said. "So just bounce back, figure it out and rally. We've got a lot of faith in Brett."
Hundley was picked off three times and sacked four times. He finished 18 for 33 for 157 yards.
"I love Aaron to death. I let him know I love him and I've got him," Hundley said, "and we'll go from here."
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers leaves the locker room after an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. Rodgers broke his collarbone in the first half.
McKinnon made up for his turnover with 16 carries for 69 yards and a score and five catches for 30 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings, who have so far survived the absence of Bradford and running back Dalvin Cook, who's out for the season with a knee injury.
Keenum, making his fourth start in place of Sam Bradford, went 24 for 38 for 239 yards without top wide receiver Stefon Diggs. He threw 13 times to Adam Thielen, completing nine for 97 yards.
"There's no drop-off," McKinnon said, "and I think we're confident in whoever steps up at any position."
Since Brett Favre took over for the injured Don Majkowski in the third game of the 1992 season, the Packers have had Favre or Rodgers for all but nine games.
Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien and Seneca Wallace were forced to fill in while Rodgers missed seven games in 2013 because of a broken collarbone. Flynn started once in 2010 when Rodgers sat out with a concussion and again in 2011 when he rested during the regular-season finale with the Packers having clinched the top seed in the NFC playoffs.
Packers: With three starting DBs already out with injuries (Morgan Burnett, Davon House and Kevin King), backup CB Quinten Rollins (ankle) was also lost during the game. For the first time this season, the starting offensive line was intact. That lasted about half of the game. RT Bryan Bulaga (concussion) was knocked out of action, and LT David Bakhtiari's hamstring injury flared up. He missed the past four games.
Vikings: WR Michael Floyd (calf) was hurt during the game, with LG Nick Easton (calf) already out. SS Andrew Sendejo (groin) didn't play, either.
The Packers host New Orleans, before a well-timed bye week.
The Vikings play Baltimore at home, then travel to London to play Cleveland.
MINNEAPOLIS — Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers could miss the remainder of the season with a broken collarbone.
Rodgers left the game against Minnesota in the first quarter on Sunday, and the Packers announced at halftime that his season is in jeopardy after the injury was diagnosed.
"There is a chance he could miss the remainder of the season," the Packers tweeted.
It's a crushing blow to a team that entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations, optimism based primarily on the right arm of Rodgers.
Despite several key injuries to the secondary, the Packers entered the game Sunday against their NFC North rivals at 4-1 after Rodgers engineered a game-winning touchdown drive to beat the Dallas Cowboys last week.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer's defense has always gotten after Rodgers in these tense matchups, and it happened again in the first quarter when linebacker Anthony Barr drove him into the turf after he got rid of a roll-out pass.
The impact did not appear to be that violent at first glance as Rodgers rolled through the hit. But it became apparent quickly that he was in considerable pain. He writhed on the turf as Packers coach Mike McCarthy argued for a roughing the passer penalty.
As Rodgers walked gingerly to the sideline, he turned to jaw at Barr before entering a tent on the sideline for examination.
Eventually he rode a cart to the locker room for further tests and remained there throughout the first half. He was initially deemed questionable, but the Packers announced after halftime that he would not return to the game.
He was 2 of 4 for 18 yards before leaving, casting a pall over the rivalry that always includes thousands of Packers fans in Minnesota's stadium.
Brett Hundley, the only other quarterback on the Packers roster, stepped in for Rodgers.
A Packers offense without Rodgers under center is not something Green Bay has seen very often. Hundley entered the game having thrown 11 career passes, all coming in the fourth quarters of mop-up duty.
Since becoming the full-time starter in 2008, Rodgers has been remarkably durable. He missed seven games in 2013 with a fractured collarbone, but he has started 132 of the other 134 games during that time period.
Of course, being able to count on a quarterback to take the snaps is nothing new for Green Bay. Since Brett Favre took over for the injured Don Majkowski in the third game of the 1992 season, the Packers have had Favre and Rodgers for all but nine games.
Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien and Seneca Wallace were forced to fill in while Rodgers was out in 2013. Flynn started once in 2010 when Rodgers sat out with a concussion and again in 2011 when he rested during the regular-season finale with the Packers having clinched the top seed in the NFC playoffs.
Favre never sat at all.
"I hope @AaronRodgers12 is OK!" Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman tweeted. "The league is better when he's healthy. Praying for you."
Hundley's first pass of the game was intercepted by Xavier Rhodes, but he recovered later in the second quarter and was able to step up in the pocket and hit a wide open Davante Adams for a touchdown that tied the game at 7.