Packers whip Vikings, 34-0

The Green Bay Packers won their fourth straight game Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field by shutting down Adrian Peterson and using a balanced attack on offense to beat the Minnesota Vikings.

While Green Bay's defense smothered Peterson, the league's leading rusher, and eventually knocked him out of the game with a knee injury, the Packers kept the Vikings defense off balance behind Brett Favre and Ryan Grant with time-consuming drives in Green Bay's 34-0 victory before 70,945 fans.

Green Bay improved to 8-1, its best record since their 1996 NFL title season, with its first shutout of the Vikings (3-6) in 94 games in the heated rivalry. It was Minnesota's worst defeat ever to the Packers. The shutout also was Green Bay's first since blanking the Buffalo Bills 10-0 on Dec. 22, 2002 at Lambeau Field.

"Very good performance by our football team in all three phases," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "We anticipated a very physical game with Minnesota today, especially after the game we had with them up in the Metrodome. I thought our guys really prepared well. … That's clearly our best performance this year and that's what you're looking for."

Favre, who was off the mark at times early on, settled down to complete 33 of 46 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. It was the sixth time in the last seven games that Favre has passed for 322 or more yards. Favre completed passes to 10 different receivers and wasn't sacked, a first this season.

When Favre wasn't connecting with receivers, Grant enjoyed his second 100-yard game of the season with a career-high 119 yards on 25 carries.

"We thought we could do some good things," said Grant. "We had to set a tone. But as good as their rush defense is, we felt like if we execute, if we take care of our part, good things will happen. The line did a great job this week, everybody in the front, the wide receivers, everybody, the fullbacks. Coach (Edgar) Bennett has been doing a great job keeping us set on what our focus is and what our goals are, staying consistent on what we're trying to accomplish. We're trying to put things together." Peterson, who left the game with 1 minute, 28 seconds left in the third quarter, was carted to the locker room. When he was in the game, the National Football League's leading rusher never had a run of more than 12 yards against the Packers and finished with 45 yards on 11 carries. Peterson rushed for a league record 296 yards a week ago in Minnesota's 35-17 win over the San Diego Chargers in the Metrodome.

Six of the Packers' eight Green Bay scoring drives were at least nine plays, including a 9-play, 96-yard drive that gave the Packers a 34-0 lead with 5:38 left in the game. As an example of how everything seemed to bounce the Packers' way, wide receiver Ruvell Martin caught his second touchdown pass of the afternoon after Favre's pass deflected off safety Darren Sharper and cornerback Cedric Griffen.

"It just happened to be that they smashed into each other and the ball popped up," said Martin.

Said Favre, "I'd rather be lucky than good. I've told everyone who would listen I've had my share that were meant to be caught. That's not one of them. But today it was going our way and that was an indication of that. That was not a really good decision and it was definitely not a good throw, but I will take it. It counts the same."

The Packers shied away from Minnesota's front seven with a variety of sweeps and short pass plays, but Favre also hit receivers downfield a handful of times as well. The Packers were 11 of 17 on third down conversions, and 2-for-2 on fourth down conversions.

"Really what I told the football team at halftime is we had a lot of production, but not enough points," said McCarthy, who is 4-0 against the Vikings. "We had opportunities to get more points on the board."

The Packers finished with a season-high 488 yards of offense to Minnesota's 247. The Vikings were 0-for-8 on third-down conversions and 0-3 on fourth down conversion attempts.

"If my team wasn't ready and I didn't have them ready, then I am going to take responsibility for that. It's my fault," said Vikings coach Brad Childress.

Peterson, the league's leading rusher with 1,036 entering the game, caught three passes for 14 yards and left the game after he was tackled by Al Harris. The Packers' defense held him to 45 yards in the first half, and he had no yards on two rushing attempts in the third quarter.

"It takes the whole team," said Packers defensive tackle Ryan Pickett. "We'd be watching him and be like, ‘Man, just turn it off. We don't need to see no more of his highlights. Let us go into the game feeling good.' We were tired of seeing it. You know, he makes people miss and he's a dangerous back, he's real good."

The Vikings entered the game giving up just 70.4 yards per game, the second-best rush defense in the NFL. But Green Bay quickly racked up 81 yards on the ground in the first quarter behind Grant and finished with 120 for the game, one yard shy of their season high set Oct. 7 against Chicago.

"It starts up front," McCarthy said. "I thought the run-blocking unit, starting with the offensive line, did an excellent job. I think Ryan keeps getting better each week with his opportunities, so we're definitely heading in the right direction."

Favre's 1-yard touchdown pass, his 200th at Lambeau Field, to tight end Donald Lee stretched Green Bay's lead to 20-0 with 9:29 left in the third quarter. The Packers used a blend of running and passing plays to march 72 yards on nine plays, including Favre's 34-yard toss to wide receiver Greg Jennings, to the Vikings' 7. Jennings made an impressive catch ahead of cornerback Cedric Griffin and withstood a hard hit from Sharper.

"I think you've seen just a small percentage of what these guys are capable of doing," Favre said about the Packers receivers. "I don't know if I'll be around when they hit their stride. I think they can be great for this team for a long time."

After a Vikings' three-and-out, the Packers put together a 69-yard drive over 5 minutes and made it 27-0 on Favre's 8-yard touchdown pass, against nine Vikings' defenders in a zone coverage, to Martin in the back of the end zone. Favre's 24-yard strike over the middle to wide receiver Donald Driver on third-and-five to Minnesota's 40 ignited the drive.

Grant ran 30 yards around the right end to score his first touchdown of the season and gave the Packers a 7-0 lead with 7:18 left in the first quarter. Green Bay's offensive line, which was under fire throughout the week after a mediocre performance against Kansas City, sealed Vikings' defensive end Kenechi Udeze, and mammoth tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, allowing Grant ample running room to break a tackle and scamper into the end zone.

The Packers began the 82-yard drive with four straight passes before Grant darted around the left end for a 12-yard gain. Wide receiver Koren Robinson also made a diving catch on a pass from Favre for 4 yards on fourth-and-three from the Vikings' 34 to keep the drive alive.

Mason Crosby's 39-yard field goal with 6:30 left in the second quarter put the Packers ahead 10-0. The Packers used 8:13 of the second quarter to move 69 yards, but the drive stalled when Driver was unable to hang onto Favre's high pass near the 10-yard line. Favre's 25-yard pass to Martin to the 20 put the Packers in field goal range.

Crosby was good from 24 yards out as time expired in the second quarter to lift Green Bay to a 13-0 halftime lead. The score capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive, and the Packers ran out of time after Favre hit Robinson with a 6-yard pass to Minnesota's 6 with 3 seconds left in the first half.

Minnesota was forced to punt on all four of its first-half possessions, and could only muster 67 yards behind third-string quarterback Brooks Bollinger, who played ahead of starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (concussion) and backup Kelly Holcomb (neck). Bollinger, who led the University of Wisconsin to a Rose Bowl victory in 2000, was held to seven yards passing in the first half, and the Vikings had just 3 first downs to Green Bay's 16. Minnesota went 0-for-4 on third down conversions in the half.

"I am disappointed because today I didn't play very well," Bollinger said. "The Packers did play well on both sides of the football. There are a lot of things that we need to do better, but I know that I didn't help us out very much and didn't play as well as I am capable of and that is frustrating to me."


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