Senior writer jclombardi highlights Packers headlines about win over Vikings.
Hot Packers rout reeling Minnesota: If it wasn’t already obvious that the teams headed in opposite directions after that game, it became crystal clear Sunday afternoon at the Metrodome. The Packers produced just 14 yards of total offense in their first three drives, with Rodgers misfiring on three of his first five pass attempts. But the Packers scored on their next four possessions, including touchdowns to end three straight drives, to put the game out of reach. Rodgers finished 22 of 31 for 301 yards and his passer rating (141.3) was a season high. QB Rodgers passed for four touchdowns, three of them to Greg Jennings, and the Packers added further pain to their rivals’ miserable season with a 31-3 victory before a crowd of 64,120. Green Bay (7-3) scored the final 31 points of the game to record its most lopsided victory ever at the Metrodome. It’s going to be tough to slow down the Packers based on the way they’ve played over the last month. The constant has been a defense that has allowed just one touchdown in its last three games. The only points the Packers allowed Sunday came on a 24-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell midway through the first quarter. Green Bay also had two takeaways, giving the defense 12 in its last 14 quarters. CB Woodson forced a fumble and CB Williams picked off a pass that the offense converted into a crucial touchdown just before halftime.
Packers sweep Vikings in convincing fashion: The victory, the largest margin for the Packers here since the Metrodome opened in 1982, accomplished so much in one shot. It ran the Packers’ winning streak to four games and their record to 7-3, which keeps them on pace with the Chicago Bears for first place in the NFC North Division. It also capped a satisfying sweep of quarterback Brett Favre and the Vikings, a year after Favre humbled the Packers with a sweep of two hot-blooded games that were the difference in the division race. For the second time this season, Rodgers outdueled Favre with a better passer rating (141.3 to Favre’s 51.2) and exploited the Vikings’ glaring weakness with Asher Allen and rookie Chris Cook at the Nos. 2 and 3 cornerbacks. Cook, the Vikings’ nickel back, was the stumblebum of choice in the first half. Jennings smoked him for a 47-yard catch that set up a field goal. WR Jones did the same for receptions of 39 and 3 yards, the latter a fade for a touchdown with 5 seconds left in the first half that put the Packers up 17-3. The Vikings gave Cook the hook in the third quarter. Jennings, who had three touchdown catches on the day, then torched Allen’s one-on-one coverage for two scores in the second half, a 46-yard catch-and-run on a comeback route that opened the 21-point lead in the third quarter, and a 22-yard fade on a daring third-down call that closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter. Favre, on the other hand, couldn’t solve a Packers defense that has been one of the NFL’s best the past three weeks — coordinator Dom Capers’ crew has given up 10 points total to the New York Jets, Dallas and the Vikings.
Packers 31, Vikings 3: Williams turns the tide: With Rodgers having thrown for 301 yards and four touchdowns, backup Matt Flynn was in the middle of mopping up the final 6 ½ minutes of the Packers’ 31-3 domination of the Minnesota Vikings. Rodgers, meanwhile, was walking along the Packers’ bench, shaking hands with every defensive player he encountered. With 2:53 left in the game, he arrived at Tramon Williams, whose interception in the closing minutes of the first half had helped turn a nip-and-tuck affair into the blowout it became. Asked after the game what his quarterback had said to him, Williams laughed. He couldn’t remember. In reality, nothing really needed to be said. Everyone inside the Metrodome Sunday knew just how big Williams’ interception of Brett Favre with 1:03 left until halftime had been. “”Huge,” said Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who watched Rodgers direct the offense on a six-play, 53-yard sprint in the next 58 seconds to turn Williams’ interception into a 3-yard Rodgers-to-James Jones touchdown and a 17-3 halftime lead. “I mean, they had a little momentum on the drive; it’s a one-score game. That’s a big play in the game no doubt about it.” Williams’ interception was part of a larger impressive defensive effort, of course, which is why Rodgers was going down the sideline offering his thanks and congratulations.