Packers top Vikings, even NFC North race
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Green Bay Packers were in a funk, booed by their loyal fans the week before and passed by the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers responded with a resolute victory, fending off the Vikings like Clay Matthews waving his finger after tackling Adrian Peterson for a loss.
Rodgers threw for a pair of touchdown passes without a turnover, Datone Jones had two of Green Bay’s six sacks and Eddie Lacy contributed a season-high 100 yards rushing to help the Packers beat the Vikings 30-13 on Sunday and stop a three-game losing streak.
”Maybe we’ll get you guys off our back for a couple days,” Rodgers said. ”We’ve been taking it on the chin, rightfully so, the last three weeks after a couple real poor performances. This was an important week for us. We really stuck together.”
James Jones had six catches for 109 yards after several quiet games and Mason Crosby made all five of his field goal tries, lifting the Packers (7-3) to their 10th win over the Vikings in the last 11 meetings with Rodgers at quarterback. He has thrown for 28 touchdown passes with just three interceptions in those games.
From Lacy to Crosby to the two-time NFL MVP Rodgers, the underperforming Packers bounced back in a big way to post the highest score against the Vikings this season.
”I think sometimes we play a little better when we start to get questioned,” said Rodgers, who was a ho-hum 16-for-34 for 212 yards but brilliant when he needed to be on third-down scoring passes to Jones and Randall Cobb.
The Vikings (7-3) had their five-game winning streak shoved back in their face by a proud Packers team that clearly wasn’t ready to concede a division it has won four straight times. The rematch is on Jan. 3 in Green Bay.
”This team you saw play today, it wasn’t us. We were out of sync, out of whack,” said Peterson, who was held to 45 yards on 13 carries with one touchdown. He lost a fumble at the Packers 21 early in the fourth quarter.
Teddy Bridgewater took back-to-back sacks to prompt a punt on the next possession, all but sealing the first loss by the Vikings at home in eight games since the Packers won here almost exactly a year ago.
”We’ve got to fix this. You’ve got to be able to win when the whole world is watching,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said.
Right after the ugliest of their three straight defeats, an 18-16 decision at home against Detroit, Rodgers and the Packers roared back with a vintage performance against the Vikings to the delight of the enemy fans chanting, ”Go, Pack, Go!” throughout the evening.
”Sometimes you have to look in the mirror, especially with the losses we’d had,” Matthews said.
The Packers used a 50-yard pass interference penalty on Terence Newman, who was covering Jeff Janis on third-and-15 from the 15, to set up the 10-yard touchdown toss by Rodgers to Cobb with 10 seconds left in the first half. An illegal contact call on Anthony Barr during a third-down incompletion gave Rodgers yet another opportunity on that defining drive.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Rodgers rolled right on third-and-9 and zinged the ball to Jones at the edge of the end zone for a 27-yard score on. He shoveled the 2-point conversion pass to Jones, too, for a 27-13 lead.
After Rodgers attempted 61 passes against the Lions and came away with a sore shoulder, the Packers were determined to re-establish Lacy and James Starks between the tackles.
”This is the way we prefer to play,” coach Mike McCarthy said.
Bridgewater took quite a bruising, leaving the game briefly with an injury to his left shoulder but still finishing 25 for 37 for 296 yards and a touchdown without any turnovers. The Packers went without a sack on their entire three-game losing streak.
Peterson, the NFL’s leading rusher who passed the 1,000-yard mark for a seventh season, averaged 116 yards over the first 15 times he played the Packers with four games of 150-plus yards.
NOTES: Kyle Rudolph had a touchdown and a career-high 106 yards receiving for the Vikings. … The Packers lost center Corey Linsley (ankle) and safety Micah Hyde (hip) to injuries.
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