Packers stumble in Minnesota, still edge Vikings 24-21 to move into 1st place
By Tyler Dunne of the Journal Sentinel
~Minneapolis — The Green Bay Packers finally surpassed the Detroit Lions in the NFC North on Sunday after a 24-21 win over Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium.
The Lions lost to the Patriots, 34-9.
Granted, the Packers and Lions play again in Week 17. But one game up, the Packers now can control their own destiny.
It didn’t come easy on the road. Green Bay’s juggernaut offensive attack was contained for much of this one, as Aaron Rodgers was held to 209 passing yards on 19-of-29 passing. But eventually the Packers’ offense broke through and held on to beat Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings.
Bridgewater made it interesting, leading a 79-yard drive that cut the Green Bay lead to three with 3 minutes and 23 seconds left.
But Eddie Lacy — who had another big day against Minnesota — dove up the middle out of the shotgun for four yards on third and 2 and rumbled for 10 more the next play to close out a Packers win.
Next up for Green Bay? A home date with Tom Brady and the 9-2 New England Patriots.
Player of the Game: Even as Rodgers put up ungodly first-half numbers at Lambeau Field, the quarterback maintained the Packers would probably be leaning on the run more deeper into the season. That was the case Sunday, as Lacy rumbled his way through the Vikings’ defense again. The second-year back finished with 115 rushing yards, 13 receiving and two of Green Bay’s three touchdowns. His full repertoire was on display. The Vikings did a solid job eliminating the big play from the Packers’ offense — they had only two pass plays of 20-plus yards — but Lacy chipped away throughout.
Turning point: Minnesota had a golden opportunity to take a 17-14 lead in the third quarter when Charles Johnson broke out on Sam Shields inside the 10. Bridgewater’s pass was poor to the wide open receiver, and Johnson couldn’t haul in a diving grab. The Vikings settled for three and would never take a lead.
Big number: 5 — Receiving touchdowns by three different Green Bay tight ends after Rodgers hit Richard Rodgers wide open on a throwback at the 1-yard line.
What went right: Again against Minnesota, Lacy broke tackles, spun and kept plays alive. When the Packers needed to get it together, they did. Ahead 17-13 in the fourth quarter, Rodgers orchestrated an 87-yard touchdown drive that in which he hit Jordy Nelson on a slant for 11 yards on third and 3, scrambled for 18 yards on third and 6 and found Lacy on a well-designed, well-executed shovel pass for a 10-yard touchdown. Just like that, the Packers led by 11 and could breathe a lot easier.
What went wrong: The former Packers seventh-round pick Johnson beat veteran Tramon Williams off the line for a 22-yard touchdown in the first half. And the Vikings would not go away quietly in this one, giving Green Bay a scare with multiple long drives. Bridgewater led scoring drives of 74 yards (5:28) and 42 yards (5:07) and 79 yards (5:11) to keep this one close throughout. He moved the ball down the field with ease late in the fourth quarter, hitting Greg Jennings for a 5-yard score with 3:23 to go that made it a three-point game. On offense, the Vikings forced punts on Green Bay’s first two possessions — unheard of late for the Packers, who eventually rallied on the road.