In Role Reversal, Packers Go Hunting, Hit Target vs. Vikings

"We came in as the hunters today," B.J. Raji said. "We had a mentality and I think it worked in our favor."

MINNEAPOLIS – Rather than donning blaze orange, the Green Bay Packers wore their road whites for Sunday’s NFC North showdown at Minnesota.

Regardless of the color, the Packers, for a change, felt like the hunters rather than the hunted. With that attitude, the Packers bagged the equivalent of a 12-point buck with a 30-13 victory over the Vikings. Just like that, Green Bay’s three-game losing streak is history and it’s back in first place in the NFC North.

“It was a big game,” defensive tackle B.J. Raji said. “We have a lot of those around here so we knew how to approach it. We came in as the hunters today. We’re always used to getting hunted so we had a mentality and I think it worked in our favor today.”

Receiver Randall Cobb noticed that feeling before the game, too. The Packers were one-point underdogs – they hadn’t been an underdog all season – and the Vikings seemed poised to take control of the division as they entered the game with a five-game winning streak.

“It was definitely something different in the air,” Cobb said. “I said that during the pregame, you could feel something different. We all stuck together. Everybody wants us to point fingers at each other but we know the team that we have, we know the guys in this locker room and our coaching staff. We all believe in each other.”

Offensively, it translated into Green Bay’s best performance in weeks. The Packers hadn’t scored 30 points since Week 3. On Sunday, it scored 30 against the NFL’s second-ranked scoring defense and a unit that hadn’t allowed more than 23 points in a game all season. It wasn’t an offensive masterpiece, but the Packers scored on seven of 12 possessions.

“I think we had that (hunter) mentality going into it,” right tackle Bryan Bulaga said. “We wanted to be in attack mode. I think we were the underdogs in this one. So a little chip on our shoulder going into this one, coming into this environment, being a 7-2 football team that had a lot of good things going for them. We had to come out and be in attack mode the entire time.”

Defensively, the Packers showed their strong performances against the run vs. Carolina and Detroit the past two weeks weren’t fool’s gold. After rushing for more than 200 yards last week, Adrian Peterson managed only 45. The NFL’s leader in 10-yard rushes had two of them – the second of which turned into a fumble when Morgan Burnett jarred the ball loose. Because of the excellent run defense, Green Bay was able to attack quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. After three games without a sack, the Packers sacked Bridgewater six times.

“I guess what jumped out to me is Coach (McCarthy) asked everybody to search themselves,” Raji said. “Sometimes, it’s easy to look at the other guys and say, ‘Him, him, him.’ But if you really want to be a good team, everyone has to look inward.”

So, after a horrendous home loss to last-place Detroit, the Packers regained their footing with a critical road win against first-place Minnesota. It provides vital momentum heading into Thursday night’s home game against Chicago and a rematch the following Thursday at Detroit.

Now, can the Packers carry it forward into those games? Can they build momentum for a finishing stretch of games at Oakland, at Arizona and home vs. Minnesota that could determine whether the Packers can get a first-round bye – or get in the playoffs at all?   

“If you could bottle it, I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you, that’s for sure,” McCarthy said. “It’s football. The NFL is tough. I don’t know a better way to say it. It’s a game of ebb and flow. There are things that happen each and every week. You have injuries that happen during the week, you have injuries that happen during the game. There’s just a lot of variables that go into being successful each and every week. Our guys rose above the challenges they needed to today, and we played good football.”

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.

 


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