Even in a blowout.
With the Minnesota Vikings driving to potentially tie the game late in the first half, Tramon Williams stepped in front of Brett Favre's pass for an interception. Five consecutive completions by Aaron Rodgers later, the Green Bay Packers took a 17-3 lead.
After Green Bay, which won the coin toss but deferred to the second half, tacked on another touchdown coming out of the locker room, the only question remaining was the final score – which was 31-3.
Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, including three to Greg Jennings. With their fourth consecutive win, the Packers remain in a first-place tie with Chicago at 7-3. The Bears beat Miami 16-0 on Thursday. The Vikings are 3-7, and if they were on life support before the game, the plug has been pulled.
The Vikings led 3-0, with Green Bay's offense managing just one first down on its first three possessions. But the Packers, who were coming off of their bye, got in gear, adjusting to more quick-hitting passes and Rodgers going after rookie cornerback Chris Cook. Green Bay tied the game at 3, set up by Jennings' juggling, 47-yard catch against Cook. A 39-yard completion to James Jones deep up the sideline against Cook set up Rodgers' 11-yard touchdown pass to Jennings. After Williams' interception, Jones made a one-handed, 3-yard touchdown catch against Cook for the 17-3 lead.
With Cook benched to start the second half, Jennings toasted his replacement, Asher Allen, with a great open-field cut and literally jogged the last 15 yards for a 46-yard touchdown to make it 24-3.
To sum up the Vikings' season, a promising ensuing possession was doomed by a holding and delay of game, and Ryan Longwell's 51-yard field goal was wiped out by another holding. Boos reigned on the home squad.
With 13:15 remaining, fans began streaming to the exits. They missed Rodgers' 23-yard touchdown pass to Jennings against Allen on third-and-1 that made it 31-3.
Trailing 10-3 late in the first half, the Vikings were on the move. Favre hit Rice on a slant for 17 yards, Peterson broke off runs of 10 and 11 yards and Harvin ran the ball out of a five-receiver set for 15 to the Packers' 25. On first down, Favre telegraphed a post to Harvin, which Williams jumped and picked off. A 15-yard penalty on the Vikings set the Packers up at the 47, and six plays later, Green Bay was in control at 17-3.
Twice, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said Greg Jennings jump-started a struggling offense with his 47-yard catch, which led to Green Bay's first points. Jennings had a monster game, with seven catches for 152 yards and touchdowns of 11, 46 and 22 yards.
10: The number of points the Packers have allowed in their last three games: a shutout of the Jets, seven points against Dallas and three against Minnesota.
Rodgers, on the satisfaction of putting away the Vikings: "It's satisfying to win a division game the way we did today. Got to say a really big thanks to our fans who came out in big numbers today. I heard a lot of ‘Go Pack Go!' chants. It's an important win for us. We've won four in a row, I think we're getting on a little bit of a roll, our defense is playing lights out. We're going to be tough to beat when they play that well.
In the only other division game, the Cowboys won their second in a row by winning at home against Detroit 35-19. Jon Kitna threw two touchdown passes and ran for the Cowboys (3-7). The Lions are 2-8.
The other things you might have missed
-- Safety Anthony Smith injured an ankle on the opening kickoffs; X-rays were negative but he did not return. Fellow safety Atari Bigby injured a hamstring and did not return, either, with Jarrett Bush getting some snaps. Bigby, however, made a huge play on the opening kickoff when he tripped up Harvin, limiting him to a 25-yard return when he might have gone the distance.
-- The Packers won the opening coin flip but elected to defer rather than take the ball. It worked brilliantly. "We've been going three-and-out to start the game on defense," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "You're going on the road in an opponents' stadium, with the crowd involved and you get the ball first, that's the loudest time of the game. If you go out there and get a three-and-out, I think it helps get you started in the right direction in terms of trying to make sure the crowd doesn't get involved in the game. We've tried to place an emphasis on starting fast on defense and we've been able to do that the last three games."
-- The Packers and Bears boast the best scoring defenses in the league, with both teams allowing 14.6 points per game.
-- The 28-point margin was the Packers' largest ever at Mall of America Field and an anomaly in a series in which 14 of the previous 16 games had been decided by no more than a touchdown.
-- After getting just one first down on their first three series of the game, the offense scored 24 points on its next four possessions.
-- About the only blemish on Rodgers' day were the three sacks. He completed 22-of-31 passes for 301 yards, with four touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 141.3. By contrast, Favre was 17-of-38 for 208 yards, an interception and a rating of 51.2.
-- Getting his first extended look, running back Dimitri Nance carried 12 times for a team-high 37 yards (3.1 average) and a long of 11 yards.
-- The Packers were penalized just one time for 5 yards (defensive offside) and won the turnover battle 2-0.
-- Clay Matthews had the only sack, giving him a league-high 11.5 for the season.
-- Vikings safety Husain Abdullah had a miserable sequence. He dropped an easy interception in the end zone, then gave up the first of Jennings' touchdowns, an 11-yarder in which Rodgers spun out of the reach of Jared Allen.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.