NFC North: 2011 Week 7 Rapid Reaction
October, 23, 2011
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Some thoughts on the Green Bay Packers' latest victory:
What it means: The Packers set a franchise record by winning their 13th consecutive game, including playoffs, and are now 7-0 for the first time since 1962. That team finished 13-1 and won the NFL championship. The Vikings are 1-6 but have to feel decent about their future after an inspired debut from rookie quarterback Christian Ponder.
PonderWatch: Ponder completed his first pass for 72 yards and his second pass for a touchdown. He had some rough spots, including two interceptions thrown to Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, but for the most part he proved to be a more competitive alternative to starter Donovan McNabb. Ponder took some downfield chances and finished with only 13 completions in 32 attempts. But Ponder kept his team within a score of the defending champions.
Decision time: Did you agree with Vikings coach Leslie Frazier's decision to punt with about 2 minutes, 40 seconds remaining? The Vikings faced a fourth-and-10 at their 39-yard line and had all three timeouts. The Packers ran off the rest of the game thanks to runs of 15, 20 and 13 yards from tailback James Starks. I think it was a defensible decision. The Vikings' defense played awfully well for most of the third quarter and all of the fourth.
RodgersWatch: With so much attention on Ponder, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers played a near-perfect game, completing 24 of 30 passes for 335 yards and three scores, a 146.5 passer rating. Of those six incompletions, I had three of them unofficially as drops. A fourth was a spike to stop the clock in the second quarter and a fifth was a clear throwaway. It's only fair to note Rodgers was playing against a Vikings defense that was without three of its top five defensive backs. Receiver Greg Jennings didn't have a defender within 30 yards of him on an obvious botched coverage in the third quarter, resulting in a 79-yard score. Also, Rodgers was sacked four times, including twice by Jared Allen, who now has 11.5 sacks this season and 11.5 in the past three games he's played the Packers without left tackle Chad Clifton in the lineup.
Low blow: Vikings defensive end Brian Robison was fortunate not to be ejected from the game in the second quarter after kicking Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang in the groin after a field goal. I didn't see the beginning of the play, but it appeared Lang had blocked Robison on his back during the play. Referee Pete Morelli called Robison for a 15-yard penalty. Robison was pretty quiet thereafter.
Injury report: The Vikings finished the game with receiver Percy Harvin (ribs) and right guard Anthony Herrera (leg) on the sideline. The Packers lost running back Alex Green to a knee injury on a first-quarter kickoff.
Dome sweet dome: Packers place-kicker Mason Crosby set a team record with a 58-yard field goal in the third quarter that would have been good from 65. Crosby obviously has a strong leg, and maybe I'm wrong, but I'm guessing he doesn't get that chance at Lambeau Field.
What's next: The Packers have a bye and will return to the field Nov. 6 at the San Diego Chargers. The Vikings will travel to play the Carolina Panthers next Sunday.