Key to the game
The Vikings had no chance with Joe Webb at quarterback. The Packers' coaches, with time to burn on Saturday before the 7 p.m. kickoff, checked out Webb's film and saw no reason to change the game plan that was in place for Christian Ponder.
Aaron Rodgers against Ponder was a mismatch in itself. Rodgers vs. Webb only amplified the advantage the Packers enjoyed at the game's most important position.
Given the quarterbacks, it's little wonder why Packers coach Mike McCarthy stayed the course and deferred after winning the coin toss. And that decision proved to be the difference.
"To defer, there's a couple elements to it," McCarthy said. "No. 1, you obviously look at the first drive but hopefully have the opportunity to score going in (to halftime) and you obviously have the ball coming out. Scoring going in and going out helped."
Taking the ball at the 38 with 1:48 remaining in the first half, Rodgers ran a two-minute drill with the precision of surgeon. Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson on a deep in-breaking route for gain of 22, then hit Greg Jennings over the middle for 14. On first down from the Vikings' 26, Nelson ran up the right sideline and Rodgers moved to his right. Vikings cornerback A.J. Jefferson figured Nelson was going to take his route into the end zone. Instead, Nelson stopped on a dime and Rodgers threw a bullet for a gain of 23, stepping out of bounds at the 3 with 49 seconds remaining. After a throwaway, fullback John Kuhn took a shotgun draw for a touchdown.
"A lot of times in those two-minute drives, they're often keyed by a good first play of the drive and we had a completion to Jordy," Rodgers said. "That kind of got things going for us and then we just moved the ball from there. The first play is often the tell-tale play of what you're going to do on the drive. We had a good conversion there and just kept rolling."
As explosive as that drive was, the Packers methodically ran 12 plays for an 80-yard touchdown drive to start the second half. Given the deficit on the scoreboard and at quarterback, the Vikings couldn't afford a self-inflicted wound. Instead, they had 12 men on the field for what would have been a fourth-and-4 field-goal attempt. That gave the Packers a first-and-goal at the 9. Rodgers took the snap, rolled to his right and threw short over the middle to Kuhn, who ran it in for a touchdown and 24-3 lead.
2: Of the top 10 individual rushing seasons in NFL history, only two running backs have won a game in the playoffs. In 1998, Denver's Terrell Davis won three games and the Super Bowl. In 2003, Ahman Green won one game for the Packers. The top four single-season rushers all lost (Eric Dickerson, Peterson, Jamal Lewis and Barry Sanders).
2: Showing how stats can be deceiving, the Packers outgained the Vikings by only 2 yards (326-324) and lost on third down (5-of-14 for 35.7 for Minnesota; 3-of-14 for 21.4 percent for Green Bay).
3: The Packers' turnover margin, with three takeaways and no giveaways. The Packers are 9-0 this season when winning the turnover battle.
5: Consecutive drives without a first down for the Packers in the second half.
8: Punts by Tim Masthay, tying a franchise record for the playoffs. Masthay punted on six consecutive series in the second half, with the Packers getting just 12 net yards and a first down.
11: Number of completions by Webb, the fewest the Packers allowed in a postseason game since it yielded seven in a 16-3 loss to Washington in 1972.
18: Peterson's longest run. He topped that figure in 14 of 16 regular-season games, including the final 13. He had seven runs of 20-plus yards in the first two games against the Packers.
54.9: Passer rating for Webb, a number boosted by a 50-yard touchdown to Michael Jenkins in the final minutes. Under defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the Packers are 27-1 when holding the opposing quarterback to a passer rating of 70 or less.
99: Rushing yards for Adrian Peterson. In the final 10 games of the regular season, Peterson broke 100 yards nine times. In fact, Peterson broke 150 yards on seven occasions to tie Earl Campbell's single-season record.
100: Total yards for DuJuan Harris (53 receiving, 47 rushing).
107: Total yards for Peterson (99 rushing, 8 receiving).
104.9: Rodgers' passer rating, slightly below his NFL-record 105.5 entering the game. In seven postseason starts, Rodgers has topped 100 five times.
177: Passing attempts since Rodgers' last interception. He hasn't thrown one in his last five games.
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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.