Packers continue tradition of blowouts on Thursday night
Average winning margin on Thursday is 28.25 points this year
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Thursday night massacres continue.
The Green Bay Packers blew out the Minnesota Vikings 42-10 at Lambeau Field. After the first four Thursday night games were decided by an average of 28.25 points, this game between NFC North foes was just as one-sided. Two first-quarter Green Bay touchdowns in a span of four minutes made it 14-0 and the outcome was never in doubt.
Packers running back Eddie Lacy, the reigning Rookie of the Year, entered the night with 161 rushing yards and one touchdown this season. He rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns before watching the fourth quarter from the sideline.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes and had a passer rating of 138.7 before sitting out the final period, as well. He completed 12 of 17 passes for 156 yards.
The Packers’ maligned defense forced three turnovers, including linebacker Julius Peppers’ interception and 49-yard return for a second-quarter touchdown.
For Green Bay (3-2), it was a satisfying victory capping a stretch of three division games in a span of 12 days. After losing at Detroit, the Packers rebounded with convincing wins over Chicago and Minnesota.
“Obviously, we feel good about what we accomplished as a football team, the offense coming out and getting the first score on the board and really the defense breaking the game open with the takeaways,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “Clearly, a dominant victory. But with that, we’re glad that this three-game stretch is over.”
In the days before the game, several Packers players were critical of the weekly Thursday games, with guard Josh Sitton the most vocal, calling the games “stupid.” Certainly, the dominating fashion of the performance will have Green Bay enjoying its mini-bye week.
Meanwhile, the short-handed Vikings (2-3) will use the extra days to lick their wounds. They trailed 42-0 through three quarters but got on the scoreboard with quarterback Christian Ponder’s 6-yard scramble on the first play of the fourth. Minnesota safety Harrison Smith had a fourth-quarter interception to set up a short field goal by Blair Walsh.
“We have to want it more than our opponent does,” Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said. “Bottom line: I didn’t feel like we wanted it more than our opponent tonight. Guys had their heads down, and that is not stuff you want to see on the sidelines.”
Green Bay forced three turnovers en route to a 28-0 halftime lead.
The Packers struck first as their dormant running game awoke from its slumber. Lacy, who entered the game averaging just 3 yards per carry with a long of 17, broke off back-to-back runs of 18 and 29 yards.
“I thought he was a beast in the open field,” McCarthy said.
The big gains set up Rodgers’ 8-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Randall Cobb.
Green Bay scored again on its next series. Rodgers went play-action, which got wide receiver Jordy Nelson well behind Smith for a 66-yard touchdown.
In the first half, the Packers’ defense took care of business against a Vikings’ offense without embattled running back Adrian Peterson and injured quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The Vikings’ first five possessions produced only two first downs. The sixth possession ended in a Green Bay touchdown.
Ponder, feeling pressure from defensive lineman Luther Robinson, badly underthrew intended receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and threw it right to Peppers, who returned the pick for a score to make it 21-0 with 6:51 to go in the first half. He needed instruction from safety Morgan Burnett to make his inaugural Lambeau Leap.
“Well, that was my first time,” Peppers said with a smile. “Next time, I’ll be sure to get up there ASAP.”
Ponder tossed another interception two plays later, throwing the ball behind running back Jerick McKinnon and to inside linebacker Jamari Lattimore, who returned it 10 yards to Minnesota’s 20. That set up Rodgers’ 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Davante Adams.
“After playing like that, you don’t have much to say,” said Ponder, who completed 22 of 44 passes for 222 yards and two interceptions. “It was embarrassing. It’s not the way I expected to play. Hats off to Green Bay. They played a great game, but that’s not indicative of the way we should have played. I feel bad that I put the team in this position. I’ll point the finger at me. It hurts, and it doesn’t feel good.”
NOTES: Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater, who was questionable due to an injured ankle, was inactive and was replaced by Christian Ponder. The decision was not unlike the January 2013 playoff game between the teams, when Joe Webb got the surprise start in place of Ponder. … OLB Julius Peppers’ pick-six was his first since Nov. 1, 2009, when he played for the Carolina Panthers. Peppers also became the first player in NFL history with 100 career sacks and 10 career interceptions. … Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers’ third touchdown pass was the 200th of his career. … Vikings WR Greg Jennings, one of the all-time receiving leaders in Packers history after playing for the team from 2006-12, caught two passes for 31 yards.