Green Bay holds off Minnesota, 24-21, Sunday
With a win over the Minnesota Vikings and a loss by the Detroit Lions, the Green Bay Packers are now in sole possession of first place, in the NFC North.
Green Bay knocked off Minnesota, 24-21, at TCF Bank Stadium. And it was a game that was closer than most people thought. After the previous two weeks where the Packers scored 50-plus points, many thought Sunday's game against the Vikings would offer the same result.
Not Teddy Bridgewater, though. The rookie struggled in the first half, throwing an interception. Bridgewater did nearly help lead the Vikings to a near victory with a solid pass attack and ground attack. However, the Packers' didn't give up their lead and their ground game led by Eddie Lacy was too much for the Vikings.
Lacy's one-yard touchdown with a minute and a half in the first quarter gave Green Bay a 7-0 lead after the first quarter. The Vikings tied it early in the second on a touchdown from Bridgewater to Charles Johnson. With about five and a half minutes in the half, Aaron Rodgers rolled out, somehow escaped a sack and found Richard Rodgers in the back of the end zone with nobody near him for a touchdown.
Aaron Rodgers celebrated with his championship belt. Minnesota made it 14-10 going into half with a field goal by Blair Walsh. Walsh and Mason Crosby added field goals in the third and Green Bay still clung to a lead, up 17-13 after three quarters. With eight and a half minutes in the fourth, Rodgers threw a shovel pass to Lacy and the second-year Alabama halfback found the end zone to put the Packers up, 24-13. Minnesota didn't go down without a fight. Bridgewater marched the Vikings down the field, finding Greg Jennings with 3:23 left in the fourth. On the two-point conversion, Minnesota pretty much ran the same play and Bridgewater connected with Johnson to make it 24-21. Green Bay got the ball back and pounded it on the ground with Lacy. Lacy and the Packers didn't give it back and Green Bay improved to 8-3.
For the Vikings, their were a lot of positives. Bridgewater and the offense looked good. Bridgewater went 21 of 37 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Jerick McKinnon, Bridgewater and Joe Banyard all helped Minnesota on the ground. McKinnon ran for 54 yards, while Bridgewater ran for 32 yards and and Banyard ran for 26 more. What hurt the Vikings was again, Matt Kahil's performance on the offensive line. The former USC lineman had four penalties for the Vikings.
The Packers, meanwhile, found a way to win and didn't ever give their lead back. Green Bay improved to 3-3 on the road, where they have seemed to have trouble this year. On Sunday, in Minneapolis, head coach Mike McCarthy relied on the run with Lacy and Rodgers made plays when he had to. Plus, the Packers defense was able to win the turnover battle, as Micah Hyde had a big interception in the first half that stopped a Vikings drive. All in all, it was a nice win for Packers, as they head into next week's big match-up with New England at home, Sunday afternoon.
Rodgers went 19 for 29 for 209 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Lacy rushed for 125 yards, and a touchdown. He also caught a touchdown. Jordy Nelson led the Packers with eight catches for 68 yards. Other than a couple of times, it was odd that Green Bay never really attempted to go deep, Sunday.
As mentioned earlier, Green Bay hosts New England, in a big time battle between AFC and NFC contenders, next Sunday afternoon.
Sam Tastad will have pre-and-post game report for the Packers all season long. Follow him on Twitter @samtastad and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.