Packers Remain Perfect, Though Vikings Put Up a FightPosted:Oct 24th, 2011 12:15 am
All week long, my gut told me this would be a seven point game, but with the Vikings ultimately lacking three of their top five players in the secondary, I thought the Pack would blow them out late...it almost happened.
After scoring 20 unanswered points in the third quarter to take a 33-17 lead, the Packers watched the Vikings, using the legs of Adrian Peterson and the arm of rookie Christian Ponder creep closer. I didn't expect the Purple to have the ball late with a chance to win, but the Pack closed them out when Leslie Frazier gambled by punting the ball away, hoping to get it back. James Starks did the job and the Vikings couldn't stop him, even when they knew the run was coming to run out the clock.
The Pack exits the Dome 33-27 winners and heads into the bye a perfect 7-0. That is win #700 all time for the team and is their record 13th straight, dating back to last season.
All kinds of game balls to hand out. On offense, Rodgers was his usual brilliant self. At one point he was 20-23, with the incompletions being a spike and drops by Cobb and Starks. Just another ho hum 300 yard day with three TDs and only six incomplete passes. He is now the first QB in NFL history to have seven straight games with a passer rating of at least 110.
On defense, Charles Woodson picked off the rookie twice to help propel the Pack to their big lead in the third quarter. Once again Mason Crosby delivered, hammering home a Packer record 58 yarder, with lots of room to spare.
But their were some alarming warts. Cobb erased some defensive momentum after a stellar three and out effort near the Vikings own goal line, by muffing a kick and giving Ponder the ball back near midfield--they went on to score a TD.
Third down was a disaster on both sides of the ball. The offense sputtered on third downs all day, converting just 2-8, while the defense allowed Ponder to convert 9 of 16. The Packers' run defense was gouged for 218 yards, Peterson averaged more than seven yards per carry in a 175 yard day. On the flip side, Starks finished with 75 yards and averaged almost six yards per carry.
The Packers can rest up, heal up and get ready for their final nine games. Shields and Zombo should be back after the bye and the time off will be good for fellow defenders Tramon Williams, Clay Matthews and Woodson, all of whom have been nursing nagging bumps and bruises. The Chargers are up next--they handed a game to the Jets and will play next Monday night on the road, giving them a short week to prepare for the champs, while the Pack has 14 days to gear up.
With the Lions suddenly looking like the 2009 version, having lost two straight at home now and featuring no running game and a skittish Matthew Stafford, the Packers have a two game lead on the rest of the NFC (this side of SF). Bye, bye NFL. See you in two weeks (but naturally, the head cheese blogs will continue in the interim).