Packers vs. Vikings: Takeaways from Green Bay's 44-31 Win over Minnesota
Despite the close score, the Green Bay Packers took care of the Minnesota Vikings rather easily on Sunday night by a score of 44-31. Many of the Vikings' points came late in the game after the Packers had already locked up the victory.
In fact, had the Packers not given up a kickoff return for a touchdown on the first play of the game and a few other big penalties, this game wouldn't have been even more lopsided. However, the Packers did enough on both sides of the ball to pick up their fourth straight win.
Let's take a look at a handful of takeaways from Sunday's win for Green Bay over Minnesota.
*All statistics courtesy of NFL.com.
Aaron Rodgers Remains Unbelievable
With each week that passes, quarterback Aaron Rodgers continues to one-up himself.
Last week against the Cleveland Browns, Rodgers was brilliant. This week against the Minnesota Vikings, Rodgers was absolutely otherworldly.
Rodgers finished Sunday's game completing an incredible 24 of his 29 passes. He added 285 passing yards, 31 rushing yards and two touchdowns. There were also a handful of eye-popping throws that Rodgers made, most of them to wide receiver Jordy Nelson.
With Rodgers playing some of the best football of his career right now, he definitely deserves to be thrown into MVP consideration.
The Ground Game Continues to Improve
The Green Bay Packers have featured their ground game in recent weeks, and that didn't change against the Minnesota Vikings this week. The Packers once again weren't shy pounding the ball on the ground.
Running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks combined for a total of 36 carries, with Lacy having 29 of them. They also combined for 151 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
The Packers haven't just improved their ground game this year, but they've also made it a strength. In fact, they've made it one of the better ground games in the league, especially over the past handful of weeks.
What's scary for the rest of the league is that this unit continues to get better. If this group continues to improve, opposing defensive coordinators will have a hard time having any success at slowing down the Packers offense.
Jordy Nelson Has Taken His Game to a Whole New Level
We all know about the injuries to wide receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones and tight end Jermichael Finley. We also know that if wide receiver Jordy Nelson continues to play like he did Sunday night, it won't matter if the Green Bay Packers field high schoolers opposite Nelson for the rest of the season.
Nelson finished the game with a team-high seven receptions, 123 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He made ridiculous catch after ridiculous catch, with a number of third-down receptions.
Overall, Nelson looked like one of the best receivers in the league after this game. If he keeps playing at his current level, he'll finish the season as a top-five receiver.
It's Time to Bench Don Barclay
Things haven't been going so good for offensive tackle Don Barclay in recent weeks. He was quite bad against the Cleveland Browns last week, but his performance against the Minnesota Vikings this week was even worse.
Barclay was consistently beaten by whomever was matched up across against the Vikings. It didn't matter if it was defensive end Brian Robison or Everson Griffen, Barclay was likely getting outpaced on the play.
With Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod waiting to be put in the game, don't be surprised if the Green Bay Packers are forced to start a different offensive tackle in Barclay's place next week against the Chicago Bears.
The Packers Consistently Put Pressure on the Quarterback
For the majority of this game, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was under pressure. While the Green Bay Packers only recorded three sacks in the game, they never allowed Ponder to get into any type of rhythm due to their pressure.
The big winner from this game was defensive end Mike Daniels, who recorded two of the Packers' three sacks. Daniels continued his strong play on the season by not only being productive against the pass, but also contributing to slowing down running back Adrian Peterson.
The Packers defense seems to be making great strides in recent weeks. If they can continue to produce consistent pressure like they did in this game, they should have no trouble keeping their dominant streak going.
The Packers Might Want to Keep Brad Jones on the Bench
Before getting injured, inside linebacker Brad Jones was one of the better defensive players for the Green Bay Packers. His injury was supposed to be a huge hit on the overall play of the defense.
However, since Jones got injured, the Green Bay Packers have actually been playing better on defense. Much of that is due to the play of Jones' replacement, inside linebacker Jamari Lattimore.
Lattimore has been fantastic the past few weeks for the Packers defense. He finished this game against the Minnesota Vikings with three tackles and a sack.
The Packers will be in an interesting spot once Jones returns due to the fact that the defense has actually improved without him on the field. Don't be surprised if Lattimore still plays plenty of snaps or continues to start once Jones is completely healthy.
Special Teams Has an Up-and-Down Day
It hasn't been the best of years for the Green Bay Packers special teams unit. And after wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson took the opening kickoff 109 yards for a touchdown, it appeared as if it was going to be another long day for special teams.
However, the Packers bounced back nicely after that Patterson touchdown. In fact, they countered with a special teams touchdown of their own thanks to cornerback Micah Hyde. He took a punt 93 yards to the house in the second quarter to give the Packers a 24-10 lead.
While Green Bay did give up another long kickoff return to Patterson, they still bounced back nicely from that early touchdown to have an overall solid performance.
The Packers Played Their Most Complete Game of the Season
Last week's victory over the Cleveland Browns was a rather impressive win for the Green Bay Packers. However, this win over the Minnesota Vikings was an even better one for Green Bay.
It was easily their most complete win of the season. Both the ground game and the aerial attack looked fantastic for the Packers. In fact, the Packers didn't punt the ball one single time in this game.
As for the defense, they were able to hold running back Adrian Peterson to only 60 rushing yards on the game. They got consistent pressure on Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder and held him to only 145 passing yards for the game.
For those who didn't consider the Packers legitimate Super Bowl contenders before this game, their opinions hopefully changed after this win. The Packers played their most complete game of the season and look like one of the most complete teams in the NFL right now.
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