A 23-14, hard fought victory over the Minnesota Vikings on an overcast, damp afternoon at Lambeau Field before 70,567 fans has the Packers back in the NFC North driver's seat. It was another challenge thanks to injury and determination that one man, namely Adrian Peterson, wasn't going to beat them. Rebounding from their worst loss of the year in New York last Sunday night, Green Bay jumped on the Vikes with a sharp, 75 yard opening drive culminated with another circus catch from James Jones. Ignored at the Meadowlands, Jones jumped over A.J. Jefferson for a 32 yard scoring grab three and a half minutes into the game. The defense came up with a three and out and the Packers moved 52 yards in 12 plays to set up Mason Crosby for a 30 yard field goal. The adventurous season for Crosby continued when he hit the left upright but the ball skirted through for a 10-0 first quarter lead. Minnesota found it's footing on the subsequent posession, moving 71 yards in 14 plays as Christian Ponder found tight end Kyle Rudolph for a 7 yard score to make it 10-7. The Green Bay offense bogged down momentarily, failing on consecutive third and one and third and two plays but a Tim Masthay punt pinned the Vikes at their 9. On third and one from the 18, Peterson got around the right end and had a couple of Packers glance off his shoulders for a spectacular 82 yard touchdown dash putting Minnesota on top 14-10. The NFL's rushing leader would finish with an astounding 210 yards on only 21 carries, the most yards gained on the ground by an opponent in Lambeau Field history. Given a chance to cut into the lead before intermission, Crosby missed well wide right on a 53 yard field goal, making him just 1 for 7 from 50 yards or more away. Crosby's second half kickoff sailed out of bounds putting the ball at the 40 and Peterson did it again, gashing the defense for 48 yards to the 12 on the first snap. Two plays later, Morgan Burnett made a game changing play, intercepting Ponder in the end zone to deny the Vikes more points. Jermichael Finley converted a third and 9 with a 21 yard catch but the Packer series bogged down at the Minnesota 29. Originally keeping the offense on the field, the Vikes were forced to call timeout and Mike McCarthy then sent out Crosby for a clutch 47 yard try and he made good, pulling Green Bay within one point. The Packers tried a trick play to grab the lead when Randall Cobb took a toss to his left, lateraled back to Rodgers who fired deep down field to Greg Jennings, in his first game back in two months. The ball was underthrown and picked off by Harrison Smith at the 6. The defense held and Green Bay got the ball back at midfield. It took just four plays to score as James Starks got around right end and found the sideline for a 22 yard scamper. Leading the way was rookie free agent Don Barclay, forced to play much of the game when T.J. Lang left with an ankle sprain in the first half. Peterson's last big run covered 23 yards late in the third quarter but Burnett again came up with a big play, stepping in front of Rudolph for an interception at the 14 yard line as the third quarter came to a close. That's when the Pack put together a 73 yard drive, covering 18 plays and the first 11 minutes of the fourth quarter to set up Crosby's 31 yard field goal that made it a two score game. On the drive, the Packers converted 4 straight third down plays. Jennings bobbled a pass but got 8 on third and 8, Rodgers scrambled for three on third and two, Finley covered 7 on third and five and Rodgers found Cobb for 33 yards over the middle on third and 12. A sack by Jared Allen and false start by Evan Dietich-Smith brought on Crosby who came through. Minnesota needed two posessions and when they stalled at the Packer 24, Blair Walsh missed a 42 yard field goal wide right. The Packers ran the clock to :43 before punting and the Vikes were through. Without Percy Harvin in the Minnesota lineup, Peterson was the only offensive threat and while he was ridiculous, Ponder struggled in the air, completing only 12 of 25, not hitting a wide receiver until the final three minutes of the game. The Packers were at their balanced best all year, Rodgers passed for 286 yards and the running game produced 152, with Starks gaining 66 and Alex Green picking up 58. It allowed Green Bay to dominate time of posession, 38:30-21:30. Penalties stalled the Pack, they were whisteld for 10 on the day. The two injuries of note, Lang's ankle sprain and a pulled hamstring suffered by Jordy Nelson are not believed to be serious. The Packer inactives were Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews, Johnny White, Sam Shields, C.J. Wilson, Terrell Manning and Donald Driver. On Saturday, the Packers placed Andrew Quarless (knee) and Sean Richardson (back) on injured reserve, calling up two practice squad players, running back DuJaun Harris and receiver Jeremy Ross. Both were dressed. Green Bay made it 10 straight division wins, extending a team record, and at 8-4, have caught the Bears for the division lead after Chicago was knocked off by Seattle in overtime. San Francisco also lost in OT at St. Louis and suddenly, the number two seed in the NFC is within reach. Next up for the Packers, a second round with Detroit next Sunday night at Lambeau. On the link below, post game quotes from Mike McCarthy and the boys.
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