Rapid Reaction: Packers 23, Vikings 14
December, 2, 2012
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A few thoughts from Sunday's events at Lambeau Field:
What it means: The Green Bay Packers won despite giving up 210 rushing yards to Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson. They are 8-4, have won six of their past seven and have a virtual lead in the NFC North after the Seattle Seahawks downed the Chicago Bears in overtime. The Vikings have now lost in successive weeks to division rivals and, at 6-6, would seem to have their playoff hopes all but dashed.
What I liked: The Packers kept their cool after falling behind 14-10 in the second quarter. I wasn't a big fan of their double-lateral trick play that ended in an interception in the third quarter, but that play seemed to encourage a more basic approach. Their running game was effective, providing James Starks his first rushing touchdown since Week 1 of 2011, and they took the first 11 minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter while holding to a six-point lead.
What I didn't like: There is no way to explain quarterback Christian Ponder's performance in the context of Peterson's 210-yard game. Peterson's career-long 82-yard run staked the Vikings to a second-quarter lead, and a 48-yard dash early in the third quarter put them in position to add to that lead. Instead, Ponder threw a pair of interceptions to Packers safety Morgan Burnett. The first was in the end zone and both were in Packers territory. When the Vikings gained possession with 3:56 remaining in the game, Ponder had only five completions -- all in a second-quarter touchdown drive -- and a total of 36 yards. There is no doubt Ponder has a limited group of weapons, but a quarterback should be more productive against a defense that has every reason to focus elsewhere. I'm not sure if backup Joe Webb would have provided an improvement, but as we've discussed before, at some point the Vikings have to hold Ponder accountable for his mistakes.
Injury report: The Packers lost receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring) in the first quarter and right tackle T.J. Lang (ankle) in the second. The injury to Lang seemed especially significant considering the Packers' relative lack of depth after original starter Bryan Bulaga's season-ending injury. But undrafted rookie Don Barclay appeared to do a decent job in Lang's place, especially as a run-blocker, the rest of the way.
CrosbyWatch: Packers place-kicker Mason Crosby hit three field goals, including a 47-yarder that coach Mike McCarthy sent him onto the field to attempt only after a Vikings timeout. Crosby missed from 53 yards just before halftime and also sent a kickoff out of bounds for a penalty. But overall, it was an encouraging day for a player many Packers fans have worried about in recent weeks.
What's next: The Vikings will host the Chicago Bears next Sunday, while the Packers will host the Detroit Lions later that night.