Posted October 28, 2013

Aaron Rodgers makes Minnesota’s night miserable in 44-31 win

Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings
Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers was a perfect 10 for 10 throwing on third down against Minnesota Sunday night. (Jim Mone/AP)

When Aaron Rodgers performs at his absolute best, his game is less domination than it is teasing and taunting Green Bay’s opponents until their will is broken.

So it was Sunday in Minnesota. Time and again, the Vikings forced Rodgers’ offense into third downs. Almost without fail, Rodgers found his way out of the mess. On one particular occasion, a 3rd-and-2 in Minnesota territory, Rodgers avoided the pass rush to scramble for 14 yards. After trotting out of bounds, the Packers’ QB looked back to ensure there were no flags on the play, then turned, smirked and playfully signaled first down.

The Vikings’ defense was a mouse being pawed at by a cat. A donkey ignorantly chasing down a carrot out of its reach.

Green Bay faced 18 third-down situations in its 44-31 win. Rodgers converted 13 of them — with two Vikings stops coming in the fourth quarter, with the game already decided. Just for good measure, the Packers moved the sticks on two fourth-down tries, too: a seven-yard completion to John Kuhn and later an eight-yarder to Jordy Nelson, both so comically easy that Rodgers would be forgiven if he let out a little chuckle along the way.

Minnesota needed some magic to even think about an upset here, in front of a home crowd heavily infiltrated by Packers fans. The necessary jolt of life came early, as Cordarrelle Patterson raced the opening kickoff back 109 yards for a touchdown.

BURKE: Watch Patterson’s 109-yard kickoff return

The Packers’ response: Who cares?

Their ensuing possession lasted 15 plays and chewed up 90 yards. Rodgers capped it with an absolutely ludicrous completion to a fully-covered Jordy Nelson from 11 yards out. That pair worked their magic again in the second quarter, right after Minnesota knotted the game up at 10. On 3rd-and-6, with momentum threatening to swing toward the Vikings, Rodgers somehow found a microscopic window and hit Nelson on the run for what became a 76-yard score.

“The first throw was a tight one, [Nelson] got his head around just in time and made the catch,” Rodgers told NBC’s Michelle Tafoya. “The second one … he made an amazing catch and run. It’s no surprise he’s playing this well.”

It helps that Nelson has Rodgers delivering him the football.

Greek mythology tells us the story of Tantalus, doomed to hunger and thirst by the gods, forced to stand forever in a pool that receded when he coveted a drink and below a tree that hid its fruit when he asked for food.

Perhaps Minnesota’s Week 8 was not quite as torturous as that existence. But it may have felt like it for the three hours or so that this matchup lasted. The home team had chance after chance … after chance after chance after chance … to bury Rodgers and force a punt.

It failed to seal the deal even once. The Packers had eight possessions Sunday night. They scored on seven and took a knee to end the game on the final one, with a Micah Hyde punt-return TD mixed in.

“We got a great team, very well-coached, guys are ready to play,” Rodgers said. “It was loud in here, a tough environment, but guys stepped up.”

Minnesota’s story will come back, as it has throughout this season, to the play of its quarterback. Christian Ponder proved indecisive again in a 14-of-21 showing that hardly gave his team a chance. Seemingly for each Rodgers’ third-down conversion, Ponder took a sack or badly overthrew a receiver.

By the end of the night, he heard those all-too-familiar boos from the Vikings faithful, who no doubt are tired of wondering if their franchise ever will find a QB to complement the transcendent Adrian Peterson.

Blaming this latest setback fully on Ponder, though, ignores that Minnesota’s defense endured a helpless 60 minutes against one of the top quarterbacks in football. The result was on Ponder’s shoulders only in that he was not capable of doing for the Vikings’ offense what Aaron Rodgers did for his. But that is a bar not many quarterbacks can reach on a consistent basis.

“Aaron managed this thing so well,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy told Milwaukee’s NBC affiliate. “I can’t say enough about his management skills, let alone his playing ability.”

As Rodgers pointed out after his team’s fifth win of the season, there were others in the mix. Nelson, for one, made difficult grab upon difficult grab, often in critical spots. Meanwhile, running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks combined for 151 yards and two touchdowns, continuing the Packers’ ongoing discovery of a potent run game.

Still, this Green Bay victory — so many Green Bay victories — would not have happened without Rodgers locking into a groove from the get-go. Minnesota tried everything it could think of on defense, from adjusting coverages to changing pressure packages. None of it worked, and Rodgers seemed to know from the first moments Sunday night that nothing would.

“He’s the top quarterback in the league, in my opinion,” said Nelson of Rodgers on NBC’s postgame show. “He’s going to lead this team … and make sure guys know what they’re doing.”

23 comments
Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

One thing I can't stand about the packers....their defense takes the night off when they are obviously going to route a team. Have some damn self pride by holding the other team to as few points as possible guys. Pathetic.

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

Don't know about you, but I really enjoy Peterson going after his 2500 yards he proclaimed !!! Man he has what, 571 yards now at mid point?  dude is on fire !!!!!

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

Greek mythology tells us the story of Tantalus, doomed to hunger and thirst by the gods, forced to stand forever in a pool that receded when he coveted a drink and below a tree that hid its fruit when he asked for food.

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dang, that sounds like obozo and his socialist agenda !!!!!

playemball
playemball

Since when is winning by 13 points a rout?

RomarioDelLago
RomarioDelLago

Gotta laugh at this take on the game.  At half-time it was nowhere near a "sure thing."  What a bizarre take on the game.   I'm guessing good ol' confused Mr. Burke was or is a huge GB fan.  It's fairly obvious from this joke of an article. 

JV
JV

@Wisconsin Death Trip 

Half the defense is not playing due to  injury.  I think the backups played pretty well when it mattered


myeck
myeck

@WHO*IS*ESPN  - In what way? Please use specific, actual facts, thanks.

Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

@playemball GB SPOTTED the Vikes 2 TD's to end the game. Lucky for the Vikes the Packer's defense went into chill mode to end the game. I can't stand it when team defenses get LAZY to end games, but then why get injured for nothing. 

myeck
myeck

@playemball  - Clearly you didn't watch the game. Look at the 3rd quarter. The box score only says the Packers outscored the Vikings 7-0. But the Vikings only ran three plays and a punt in the quarter! The Packers used the rest of the time and part of the fourth quarter grinding out two scoring drives.

Ursus.Obesus
Ursus.Obesus

@playemball Green Bay was up at one point 44-17 in the 4th quarter.  At which time the defense went from playting tought to playing so as not to get hurt and the offense did the same thing.  When you're up by 27pts with only 10 minutes left, you pretty much have the game and just want to make sure nobody gets hurt.

tehbobb
tehbobb

@playemball They scored several times, but the fact is that Green Bay dominated Minnesotas defense. The scores on Minnesotas side were few, and came mostly pentalties. The(bad) interference call on Tramon Williams when he was covering Jennings gave them the ball on the 9, AP would have never scored otherwise. Moral of the story is Minnesota= punt punt punt, Green Bay= Score score score. A rout.

entrepreneurSF
entrepreneurSF

@RomarioDelLago did you ever feel at any point in the game that Minnesota would or could win? Just because they racked up 2 garbage time touchdowns to make the scoreboard look closer doesn't mean it wasn't a blowout. And the Packers took their foot off the gas pedal in the 4th quarter. They could have scored 60 if they wanted to.

tehbobb
tehbobb

@RomarioDelLago The Vikings scored several times, but the fact is that Green Bay dominated Minnesotas defense. The scores on Minnesotas side were few, and came mostly from pentalties. The(bad) interference call on Tramon Williams when he was covering Jennings gave them the ball on the 9, AP would have never scored otherwise. Moral of the story is Minnesota= punt punt punt, Green Bay= Score score score. A rout.