Thumbs up, thumbs down

Packer Report's Todd Korth offers his opinion on the good and not-so-good from Packers' Monday night victory

Thumbs up: Aaron Rodgers, of course. The first-year starter played like a salty veteran. For those Packers fans who are still concerned about his arm strength, and ability to handle the pressure and lead the team, don't be. Rodgers proved in front of the football world that he is more than ready to lead the Packers to the playoffs and he played like it.

Rodgers' ability to run with the ball is refreshing as long as he runs out of bounds before getting hammered by a defender. He truly looked like he was having a great time against the Vikings, despite the many penalties enforced against the Packers. If he continues with that attitude, the rest of the team will continue to feed off of him.

Thumbs down: It seemed as if Mike McCarthy wasn't totally sold on Rodgers' ability to make a big play late in the first half. As the Packers quickly moved to Minnesota's 15 yard line, McCarthy allowed the play clock to wind down from 14 seconds to three seconds on third down. McCarthy said afterward that he wanted to make it a two-score game, but when Mason Crosby's 33-yard field goal attempt was blocked, that strategy blew up in McCarthy's face.

Why not take a shot in the end zone for a touchdown on third down? The Packers had more than enough time for two downs. Who knows? Instead of trying for three, they may have had scored seven points for a 17-3 lead instead of 10-3.

Thumbs up: Will "The Thrill" Blackmon is going to be fun to watch this season. The similarities in his ability to run it back for a big gain or touchdown on any given return echoes some of the team's recent greats like Allen Rossum and Demond Howard.

Blackmon's career-long 76-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter was just what the doctored ordered for the Packers at that moment in the game. It changed the complexion of the game and ignited the Lambeau Field crowd.

Rodgers and the offense will benefit often this season by Blackmon, who was named NFC Special Teams player of the week today by the NFL.

Thumbs down: Penalties. No matter if the officials were calling a tight game or not, the Packers have to tighten up on offense and defense to avoid the flags. It often felt like a preseason game with all the laundry on the field.

That should improve as the season progresses, though, the Packers had 21 penalties enforced against them in a 27-20 loss to the Chicago Bears last Oct. 7.

Thumbs up: Despite injuries to starting center Scott Wells and starting guard Josh Sitton, the line performed well against the Vikings. Green Bay's offense rushed for 139 yards against the No. 1-ranked team against the run last year in the NFL. Rodgers wasn't sacked once and often had plenty of time to pass. Vikings Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen barely touched Rodgers during the game, much less put the crown of his helmet on Rodgers' spine, as he predicted earlier in the week.

Thumbs down: Mason Crosby's low kick on the blocked field goal attempt at the end of the first half was uncharacteristic. McCarthy said today that the snap and hold were good. Crosby simply kicked the ball too low, which turned out to be one of the few downers for the Packers in the game.

Thumbs up: A.J. Hawk was impressive in his return from a chest injury. The outside linebacker led the team with 10 tackles and stopped Vikings star running back short of a first down on a few occasions. McCarthy said today that Hawk felt good after the game and had no further problems with the bruised chest muscle.

Thumbs down: The Rodgers-Favre comparisons on ESPN last night during the game and banter amid the announcers is getting old already. Favre is with a completely different team. Why compare Rodgers' and Favre's stat lines? Did both quarterbacks play the same team? The Vikings and their defense are far superior to the Dolphins' defense. The comparison was unfair and silly.

Thumbs up: Atari Bigby's big, game-ending interception sealed the victory for the Packers. The hard-hitting and instinctive Bigby made a great break on the pass thrown by Tarvaris Jackson for an easy interception. Green Bay's secondary is among the best in the league and Bigby showed everyone why late in the game.

Thumbs down: McCarthy's play selection with 2:38 left in the game needs to be revisited. The Packers ran on three straight plays, and tackle Mark Tauscher's holding penalty didn't help any. In less than a minute, the Packers gave the ball right back to the Vikings, who had a chance of winning the game with 1:51 left.

Why not make a safe, quick slant pass to a receiver to improve the offense's chance of gaining a first down. Again, it almost seemed as if McCarthy wasn't quite ready to let Rodgers use his arm to put the dagger into the Vikings.

Thumbs up: The Packers start the season with a victory and it seems as if many more are to come, including this Sunday at Ford Field in Detroit. The Packers are talented on offense, defense and special teams, a blend that will be tough for their opponents to beat this season.

Todd Korth writes for and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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