PLAY OF THE GAME
The oldest player on the Green Bay Packers’ roster and one of the youngest combined for a key play.
Trailing 14-0, the Vikings finally had a little something going with a pair of first downs, and an offside penalty gave them a first-and-5 from their 39. The Packers lined up in their base defense, with undrafted rookie Luther Robinson – who was promoted from the practice squad earlier in the day – lined up at left defensive end and veteran Julius Peppers in a two-point stance as the right outside linebacker. Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was lined up to the offense’s left against right cornerback Sam Shields.
Patterson took his route up the middle then tried to cut back to his left but slipped and fell. Still, as he scrambled to his feet, he was open against Shields. Robinson, meanwhile, initially was stoned by right guard Vladimir Ducasse but kept going and charged up the middle. Robinson, using his long arms, tipped the ball and Peppers had dropped into perfect position. He caught the ball at the 49-yard line – about 5 yards in front of Patterson. The 33-year-old flashed his incredible athleticism to outrun speedy Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon, got an excellent block from Clay Matthews and returned the pick for a touchdown.
About the only thing wrong with the play was Peppers’ Lambeau Leap. Because of the crown of the field, it’s more of a jump to get into the seats from the corner of the end zone than behind the goal post.
“It was actually pretty tough to get up there,” Peppers said. “I was pretty tired after that run, so I barely got up there.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Eddie Lacy was back.
Well, maybe he hadn’t gone anywhere.
Playing while not wearing the opponent’s bull’s-eye for the first time this season, Lacy ran like the Rookie of the Year running back he was last season. Lacy, who entered the game with a season-long run of 17 yards, burst through enormous holes for gains of 18 and 29 yards on the second series to set up a touchdown.
To finish off the Vikings, he had touchdown runs 11 and 10 yards in the third quarter. On the first, he bounced off 273-pound defensive end Everson Griffen, then ran out of 259-pound defensive end Brian Robison’s tackle attempt. On the second, he ran through safety Robert Blanton as if he were one of those paper signs that high school players run through for pregame introductions. Blanton hit Lacy at the 4 and lost his helmet while being driven into the end zone.
“I stretched it a little too far, but it opened up and when it did it was just me and the safety and it’s a business decision on his behalf, so I just lowered my pads, and we just went from there,” Lacy said. “That was the first time (that a defender lost his helmet on a touchdown run), so it was pretty cool, I guess. It’ll look better when I’ll be able to see it.”
THE CRYSTAL BALL
Who knows what to make out of this victory. The Vikings aren’t any good, anyway, and they’re especially bad with Christian Ponder at quarterback and Adrian Peterson learning sensible ways to treat his children. So, there’s no use in making too much of a lopsided victory.
Taking a big-picture view, 3-2 isn’t a bad accomplishment for what coach Mike McCarthy called the first quarter of the season. Nobody expected the Packers to win at Seattle, and a split of the back-to-back games at Detroit and Chicago was not a bad feat. By beating the Vikings, Green Bay improved to 3-2, including 2-1 in a rare three-game stretch against division foes.
“To have three division games that early all in a row and, really, with two new coaching staffs, that obviously caught our attention,” McCarthy said. “We did a lot of preparation work in the spring and May and June. I thought our quality control coaches did a great job throughout the preseason and the coaches did a very good job with the preliminary game plans. We knew it was going to be a tough stretch. We went 2-1 in that stretch. Here we are, we have another tough stretch going to Miami, home against Carolina and going down to New Orleans. We’ve got another three-game stretch with two on the road again. That’s what we’ve got to get ready for.”
NUMBERS WORTH NOTING
0: Points allowed by the Packers during a five-quarter span including the second half at Chicago and the first three quarters against Minnesota.
1: Catch by Jordy Nelson. That’s his fewest since being held to one catch for 10 yards against Minnesota on Dec. 2, 2012. On Thursday, Nelson turned his lone catch into a 66-yard touchdown. He has eight touchdown catches of 60-plus yards dating to Week 16 of the 2010 season.
5: Three-and-out punts out of 10 series directed by Aaron Rodgers. No wonder he didn’t sound satisfied after the game as he used words like “stagnant” and “considerable improvements” being necessary.
6: Sacks by Green Bay’s defense on Thursday.
6: Sacks by Green Bay’s defense in the first four games.
6: Touchdown catches by Randall Cobb, which leads the NFL and is the most by a Packers player since Billy Howton caught seven touchdown passes in the first five games of the 1956 season.
8: Dating to Week 17 of last season, Cobb has scored eight touchdowns in his last six games. Without having played their Week 5 games, Chicago’s Brandon Marshall is next with six, followed by Julius Thomas, Eddie Royal and Antonio Brown with five apiece.
12: Completions by Rodgers. That matches his career-low number of completions in a game he started and finished (a 28-26 victory vs. Detroit in 2010).
16: Quarterback hits by Green Bay. Mike Daniels led the team with four of them.
21: Touchdown passes of at least 60 yards thrown by Rodgers since taking over as the starter in 2008, tops in the league.
23: More plays run by the Vikings (75) than the Packers (52). Green Bay’s goal was to run 75 plays per game. Instead, it’s run 57 vs. Seattle, 68 vs. the Jets, 51 vs. Detroit and 47 vs. Chicago for a five-game average of 55.0. Put another way, Green Bay has run 275 plays. Three teams have run more than that in their four games.
48: Rushing yards by Eddie Lacy against Chicago, his previous season-high total.
53: Rushing yards by Lacy on the Packers’ second possession of the game.
66: Green Bay scored 66 unanswered points – the final 24 against the Bears and the first 42 against the Vikings. That’s the biggest scoring run since the team scored 69 in a row against the Saints (52) and Vikings (17).
138.7: Rodgers’ passer rating against the Vikings. He’s had a rating of at least 130 in five of the last six meetings against Minnesota.
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