Key to the game
When the Packers beat the Vikings on Dec. 2 at Lambeau Field, the key was Morgan Burnett's two interceptions. When the Packers lost to the Vikings on Sunday, the key, again, was turnovers.
"We didn't create any and we had one turnover that turned into seven points for them. If you look at the final margin, you see a three-point loss and that's the difference," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.
Rodgers could hardly have played better given the circumstances. He finished 28-of-40 for 365 yards and four touchdowns. His passer rating was 131.8. The Packers trailed 13-0 and 20-7 in the first half. He tied the game in the third quarter, and when the Vikings answered that with a touchdown, Rodgers followed suit with a touchdown of his own.
However, Rodgers was guilty of the game's only turnover. With the ball at midfield and the Packers having closed within 20-17, Rodgers bought time and ran toward the line of scrimmage. Defensive end Brian Robison sacked Rodgers just as he was getting ready to throw. Jared Allen recovered, and the Vikings turned the miscue into a touchdown for a potential 10- or 14-point swing.
And with that, the Packers blew an opportunity to capture a first-round bye and squandered some of the momentum for a four-game winning streak.
"It's disappointing. A lot of us wanted that extra week," Rodgers said. "It maybe would have helped with Randall (Cobb's) and Charle (Woodson's) injuries. But this was a playoff atmosphere today. We played tough and came back. We were down early. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We played a team that was desperate. They had an MVP-caliber player running the ball real well on that side. We made some plays down the stretch to get back in it, but they eventually took it from us."
1: First down on the Packers' first three offensive possessions as they fell behind 13-0. They had 23 first downs in their final seven possessions.
1: Number of Rodgers' losses in games in which he throws at least four touchdown passes. He was 10-0 until Sunday.
1: Number of Rodgers' losses in games in which he has a passer rating of 115-plus. He was 27-0 before Sunday.
2: Rodgers is one of two quarterbacks in NFL history with 4,000 passing yards and 35 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. Drew Brees also accomplished that feat this season.
7: Players to rush for at least 100 yards this season for the Packers, with DuJuan Harris' 70 giving him 157 for the year. That's the most for the Packers since 1952, when Tobin Rote, Fred Cone, Bobby Jack Floyd, Tony Canadeo, Breezy Reid Bill Reichardt and Babe Parilli rushed for at least 100. This year, Alex Green, Rodgers, James Starks, Cedric Benson, Randall Cobb, Ryan Grant and Harris hit the century mark.
10: Red-zone possessions ending in touchdowns by the Packers' offense in 11 trips over the last two games.
12: The Packers' 12-game NFC North winning streak was snapped.
51: Sacks absorbed by Rodgers for the season, including five on Sunday. He was sacked a league-high and franchise-record 50 times in 2009.
61: Receptions on the season by Jermichael Finley, including eight on Sunday. That breaks Paul Coffman's franchise record by a tight end, his 56-catch campaign of 1979.
120, 2: Receiving yards and touchdowns by Greg Jennings. He entered the game with 246 yards and two touchdowns.
"Greg is a big-time player," Rodgers said. "Not having Randall (Cobb) out there and just being able to move Greg into the slot very easily, he played excellent. He made some big-time catches for us, a great second-reaction play to get our first touchdown. I love throwing to him. He gives you a big window, a big margin for error. I've been saying the last couple of weeks that we need to find more ways to get it to him and today we did that. He probably caught eight or nine, so that was good."
0: Carries and yards by Alex Green. The Packers' leading rusher for the season finished with 464 yards. That's the Packers' lowest season-ending total since Darick Holmes rushed for 386 yards in 1998.
2,097: Rushing yards for Adrian Peterson on the season, the seventh back to rush for 2,000 yards and 8 yards short of Eric Dickerson's single-season record set in 1984.
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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.