Ugly stats, pretty performance

The Packers gave up 187 rushing yards but are happy with the result against Minnesota.

In Week 1, only two teams allowed more rushing yards than the Green Bay Packers did on Monday night against Minnesota.

Nonetheless, after withstanding the dangerous Adrian Peterson and the escape-ability of Tarvaris Jackson and preserving a 24-19 win, the Packers were happy with their defensive performance.

"We kept a great running back pretty much bottled up, besides one play. I thought we did good," said linebacker Nick Barnett, who finished with a game-high eight solo tackles.

Peterson finished with 103 yards on 19 carries. He was held to 10 carries for 28 yards in the second half, however, even though the Packers' defense didn't stack the line of scrimmage to stop him. With Peterson under control, the Packers forced the erratic Jackson to win the game with his arm. Jackson finished just 16-of-35 passing, including a ridiculous 28 attempts in the second half as coach Brad Childress for some reason abandoned the run.

"There's always plays that you feel you left on the field that you'd like to make," said linebacker A.J. Hawk, who had a game-high 10 tackles in his first game since Aug. 11. "But, anytime you come out and win like this — we faced some adversity, we gave up big third downs that we didn't want to — but I think as a defense, we wanted to go back on the field with 2 minutes left in the game. We wanted to right some of our wrongs from earlier in the night."

Those wrongs included letting Peterson bust loose on runs of 11 and 34 yards on back-to-back carries at the end of the first quarter and allowing the Vikings to convert too many third downs (7-of-16).

Even though the Vikings amassed a whopping 187 rushing yards, the Packers emerged relatively happy with their performance. That's because 65 came on Jackson scrambles and because of the second-half containment of Peterson, when, in coach Mike McCarthy's words, the defense "hunkered down."

"I don't think you can ever be satisfied, especially when you break a long run like that and break a couple medium runs on us," Hawk said. "But we felt like they couldn't drive the ball running on us. We didn't panic."

There was no panic at the end, when Jackson, Peterson and Co. got a final crack to win the game. With the ball near midfield and about 1 minute remaining, Jackson threw an awful pass into the waiting mitts of safety Atari Bigby.

Game over. Statement made.

"We knew as a defense, we needed another stop to win the game," said Hawk, who played with a harness to protect the chest strain that forced him out for the final three preseason games. "It was an opportunity for us. We like that. We like it when our backs are up against the wall a little bit. At that point of the game, the pressure's on them. They needed to score."

It added up to a sweet victory, especially with all the talk surrounding Peterson, the Vikings and their presumed rise to contender status in the NFC North.

"It's great," defensive end Cullen Jenkins said. "Season opener, you want to win it for that reason. It's a division game, so that's huge. Then on ‘Monday Night Football,' all of the different elements there that you want to win it for. To go out there and grind out a win like that, it was huge for us."

Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com

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