The frustration was apparent. The effort was questioned at times. And the result was decisive.
The Green Bay Packers came into Mall of America Field and turned a tight, defensive-filled first quarter into a beatdown of the rival Vikings with three straight touchdown drives surrounding halftime.
Young defensive backs were burned for long plays and touchdowns while old quarterbacks were talking about "re-evaluating" things when asked about a potential early retirement. That's what happens after such a convincing loss – more questions, and few real answers from a frustrated and beaten-down locker room.
The Packers were simply better in nearly every phase of their 31-3 win over the Vikings. Green Bay converted 53 percent of its third downs, compared to 31 percent for Minnesota. The Packers were 2-for-2 in the red zone, the Vikings 0-for-1. The Packers didn't turn the ball over once and had just one penalty for five yards; the Vikings turned the ball over twice and had six penalties for 50 yards.
About the only thing the Vikings excelled at was stopping the run, limiting the Packers to 91 yards on 30 carries. But with Aaron Rodgers so effective – completing 22 of 31 passes for 301 yards, four touchdowns and a 141.3 passer rating – Green Bay didn't need to run for big yards, they just needed to eat up time at the end while salting away a win with strong defense.
Greg Jennings was the big benefactor, catching nine passes for 152 yards. The Vikings had no match, despite getting Sidney Rice back in the lineup for the first time this season. Rice was targeted 10 times, but he only caught three passes for 56 yards – and he was the team's leading receiver.
Favre finished completing 17 of 38 passes for 208 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
The game started as a defensive struggle, but the Packers got it going late in the second quarter and didn't let up until they owned the 31-3 lead.
After an exchange of punts to start the game, the Vikings went nearly the length of the field, starting on their own 17 and driving across midfield with a 19-yard pass to Toby Gerhart, followed with a 29-yard pass to Greg Lewis inside the red zone. But once there, the Packers defense forced Ryan Longwell onto the field for a 24-yard field goal and a 3-0 Minnesota lead with 6:06 left in the first quarter.
It took Green Bay three drives to respond, but they eventually got into scoring position when Greg Jennings beat Chris Cook for a 47-yard reception down the right sideline. Four plays later, Mason Crosby tied the game with a 42-yard field goal.
Cook was the goat on Green Bay's next drive as well. After the Packers picked up one first down, they went right back to work on Cook, and James Jones burned him with a stop-and-go route for 39 yards to the 11-yard line. Needing to make a big play, Husain Abdullah dropped an interception and Rodgers made him pay. On the next play, the quarterback escaped a collapsing pocket, spun out to his left and fired a strike to Greg Jennings for an 11-yard touchdown and a 10-3 Packers lead.
Their momentum wouldn't stop there. The Vikings drove across midfield, but Tramon Williams read the play and stepped in front of Percy Harvin for the only interception of the game. With a 14-yard return and a low block on Greg Camarillo, the Packers were at midfield with 1:03 to play in the first half. The intermediate passing game got them new to the goal line, and with five seconds left Rodgers threw a fade to James Jones with Cook in coverage for a 17-3 halftime lead.
The Packers kept the momentum going after coming out of the locker room. Rodgers scrambled for 15 yards on the initial third down of the second half, but the big play came when Jennings juked Asher Allen and went 46 yards for the touchdown and a 24-3 lead that held up the rest of the third quarter.
When the Vikings' first full possession of the fourth quarter ended on downs with three of four passes falling incomplete, the Packers had the ball at the Minnesota 42-yard line. On the sixth play of the drive, facing third-and-1, the Packers used play-action and fired for Jennings for a 22-yard touchdown and a resounding 31-3 win.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Vikings go quietly against Packers, 31-3
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