6

January

Packers 24, Vikings 10: Wild Card Game Balls and Lame Calls

Clay Matthews

Clay Matthews and the defense stepped up big and the Packers are on their way to San Francisco.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold,” or so the saying goes, and the Green Bay Packers got their revenge against the Minnesota Vikings by winning their NFC Wild Card game 24-10 a week after the Vikings beat the Packers 37-34 which cost Green Bay a first round bye.

The Packers spotted the Vikings an early field goal as the Vikings marched down the field. Some fans began to experience a sense of déjà vu as the Packers went three and out on the following drive.  Thankfully that malaise didn’t last long as the Packers got into the end zone on the next drive and went up 7-3.

Green Bay never looked back as they got to Vikings quarterback Joe Webb and raced out to a 24-3 lead that held throughout most of the second half and gave up a touchdown pretty much in garbage time as the score settled to 24-10 as time expired.

Here are the good and the bad for the Packers in the victory that eliminated the Vikings.

Game Balls

LB Erik Walden

It was not even a week ago that the Packers allowed Adrian Peterson to run all over them, but the Packers put forth a much better effort Saturday and Walden was a big part of it.

Walden was credited with one sack and two tackles for a loss but he was constantly in Webb’s face and had one of his best games in a long time. Walden can be inconsistent but if he can warm up for this playoff run, then the Packers will have yet another weapon to go alongside Clay Matthews at the linebacker position.

He’ll have a tougher time against the 49ers but the game against the Vikings should be a big confidence booster for Walden.

RB DuJuan Harris

Harris’ emergence late this season has all but guaranteed him a roster spot going into training camp this summer, but Harris is now making a case to be the Packers starting running back and there’s really no reason he couldn’t be.

1

January

Vikings 37, Packers 34: Game Balls and Lame Calls

Adrian Peterson

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson swallowed up the Packers defense on Sunday. If he does it again on Saturday night, the Packers season will probably be over.

The Mayans may have been wrong on the world as a whole, but the Green Bay Packers finally lost an NFC North game.

After winning twelve straight games against the NFC North, the Packers lost 37-34 to the Minnesota Vikings in an instant classic to wrap up the 2012 regular season.  Thanks to the victory by the San Francisco 49ers over the Arizona Cardinals, the Packers now have to take the long road to the Super Bowl.

The defense couldn’t stop the Vikings and Christian Ponder had a better than expected game. Oh and that Vikings running back had a good game as well. At least he didn’t get the record, though (Eric Dickerson, you are welcome).

The Packers open the playoffs this Saturday once again facing the Minnesota Vikings, this time at Lambeau Field.

Game Balls

NT BJ Raji

While the defense as a whole couldn’t shut down the Vikings, but Raji perhaps had his best game of 2012.

Raji had only four tackles but he disrupted the offensive line all game and gave the defense opportunities to shut Adrian Peterson down.  Unfortunately for the Packers, no one really was able to do it.

He’s play rejuvenated football since returning to his natural nose tackle position after spending last season at defensive end and has helped an anemic Packers pass rush return to life. Raji will need to play just as well next week if the Packers want to advance in the playoffs.

QB Aaron Rodgers

Twenty eight-for-40 for 365 yards and four touchdown passes. Just another day at the office for the NFL MVP.

Rodgers’ arm and accuracy kept the Packers in the game during a shootout in which the defense couldn’t stop anything the Vikings threw at them. It was another slow start for Rodgers and company, but the passing game roared to life in the second half.  Rodgers apparently has reestablished chemistry with Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings, and if Randall Cobb is back this week, the Packers offense will be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs.

If the offensive line could get its act together, Rodgers is all set for another stellar postseason performance. The only question remaining is whether the offensive line will keep him upright.

3

December

Packers 23, Vikings 14: Game Balls and Lame Calls

Aaron Rodgers

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers scrambles to evade the pressure from Vikings DE Jared Allen

It was a solid rebound from their blowout loss to the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers are back in first place in the NFC North.

Thanks to their 23-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks’ 23-17 overtime win against the Chicago Bears, the Packers find themselves right back where they were before the meltdown against the Giants.  The Packers currently hold the tiebreaker against the Bears, but the two teams face off in less than two weeks at Soldier Field for what very likely could be the NFC North title game.

As for the victory over the Vikings, it was a much more inspired effort than what the Packers turned in against the Giants.  The Packers allowed Adrian Peterson to gain more than 200 yards on the ground yet were still able to win thanks to some opportunistic plays by the defense as well as some bad decisions by Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder.

The Packers offense used a two headed rushing attack that worked well and the offensive line, despite now losing TJ Lang to injury, improved and only allowed two sacks against a solid Vikings defensive line.

So who performed well and who left something to be desired in the Packers’ big divisional win? Let’s take a look?

Game Balls

S Morgan Burnett

Burnett very well may have won this game for the Packers.

With the Vikings up 14-10, Peterson broke a 48 yard run to get the Vikings to the Packers’ 12 yard line.  It seemed inevitable that they would go up 21-10 and put the Packers in a deep hole.

Instead, as Ponder rolled out to his right he tried to get the ball to Michael Jenkins but the ball instead landed in Burnett’s hands.  The Packers got a field goal on the subsequent drive and cut the Vikings lead to 14-13.

Later on in the third quarter, the Vikings were trailing 20-14 but were driving yet again and Burnett picked off Ponder once more.  The Packers again were able to drive down the field and get a field goal for the final points of the game.