Pack D Throws a Sack Party at the Bank

After watching that one, I can't get the "Welcome Back Kotter" theme song out of my head. It was a day of welcome backs. From Eddie Lacy and James Jones on the offense, to the overall pass rush and dominance up front from the defense. And big picture: a welcome back to the Packers we thought we knew.

They took a little three game hiatus, which may cost them a home game come January, but this incarnation of the Pack will compete against anyone, anywhere. Let's hope they're here to stay.

The defense set the tone in the first half, containing Adrian Peterson and making life miserable for Teddy Bridgewater, whom many Vikings fans will blame, but who got very little help from his linemen and was running for his life all afternoon. Mike Daniels and Datone Jones were dominant--three sacks between them--they set the tone for the unit. Teddy was sacked six times and was hurried and pressured too many times to count. Where in the world has that been all month? Clinton-Dix was all over the field and the Pack contained the Vikings receivers (if not the tight ends), holding Wallace without a catch and keeping Diggs in check.

But what really set the tone was the job they did on Peterson, holding him to less than 3.5 yards per carry and then punching the ball out for a crucial fumble which served as the dagger in this one.

As I preached all week, the Pack needed to run the ball to turn their offensive fortunes around. They ran it 34 times, led by the resurgent Lacy who looked like the Lacy of old, running hard, breaking tackles and breaking the 100 yard mark, finally. Kudos to the banged up offensive line for stepping up in a big spot and winning the battle against the Vike's vaunted front seven. JC Tretter stepped in for the injured Corey Linsley and handled his business, not bothered by Linval Joseph and company.

The passing is getting closer. There were still too many drops, by everybody by most notably Randall Cobb. But James Jones' Top 10 worthy catch in the first half that set up a touchdown was a thing of beauty, as was his toe tapping TD in the second half. He needs to be an every week playmaker from here on out as the Pack deals with injuries at WR. Jeff Janis finally got a little run, targeted twice by Rodgers deep. His 70 yard kickoff return showed just how dangerous he can be. You have to think he will continue to get more and more chances.

Rodgers didn't crack the 100 mark in passer rating, in part thanks to a lot of drops and in part because of some bad passes. But he made all the plays he needed to make at just the right time and orchestrated a solid performance with two TDs and no picks--he was sacked twice.

This was precisely the kind of performance we dared hope for, but couldn't possibly predict. The Packers played like the team that had more to prove, that needed to demonstrate that rumors of its demise were a tad premature. They did that on this night in Minneapolis, winning for the fifth time in the last six years. Never again will they get to play them here outdoors, which is a shame, but as I recall they've had pretty good success indoors as well.

What the Packers did on this day was remind the Purple that the NFC North continues to run through Green Bay, as it has the last four years and counting. They'll get another shot in week 17. We'll see where both teams sit in six weeks. The Vikings have a tougher road ahead and will need to go down to Atlanta and take care of business in Week 12.

With two more divisional games left in this all NFC North quarter of the season, the Pack has a chance to enter the fourth quarter of the season with most of its goals still reachable. If they continue to play with this kind of energy and emotion, they will be tough to beat on most Sundays...and Thursdays.

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