Packers cruise to easy win over Vikings

Packers-Vikings Nov. 22nd “flexed”

 Last week, Adrian Peterson outdueled Aaron Rodgers at the Metrodome.

On Saturday night, Rodgers won in a rout while Peterson’s starting quarterback was in street clothes.

The Green Bay Packers handled the Minnesota Vikings 24-10 in an NFC wild-card game at Lambeau Field. Rodgers did most of his damage in the first 2 1/2Ponder quarters, finishing 23 of 33 for 274 yards and a touchdown. Rodgers, with the highest passer rating in NFL postseason history at 105.5, finished with a 104.9 rating.

The story, however, was Minnesota’s offense. Peterson, who rushed for 409 yards in the first two matchups against the Packers, saw a much more disciplined defense this time. Already wearing a bull’s-eye on his No. 28 jersey, Peterson was a target as the Packers doubled down on their efforts to stop him after starting quarterback Christian Ponder was a surprise inactive.

“Close. I went out in the pregame and threw around a little bit,” Ponder said. “Just made the decision that we’d probably be better off playing Joe (Webb) with how limited I would be.”

The Packers “didn’t do a whole lot of work” during the week on Webb, coach Mike McCarthy said, but it didn’t matter. Webb was miserable, going 7 of 24 for 61 yards until the Packers blew coverage on Michael Jenkins’ 50-yard touchdown pass with 3:39 remaining.

Peterson managed 99 yards on 22 carries, with a long of 18 coming well after the game was out of reach.

“When I think about tonight’s win, it definitely starts and ends with our defense,” McCarthy said. “I thought they were outstanding for four quarters, set the tempo,”

Packers defensive back Charles Woodson said: “Guys were embarrassed about last week, and then you had to hear about the Vikings all week and hear about Adrian all week. Guys were pretty upset about that because when you turn on your television, all of the highlights are Green Bay Packers highlights, and that ain’t a fun feeling.”

Green Bay will play at No. 2 seed San Francisco next Saturday night. Minnesota had won four in a row, including 37-34 at the Metrodome six days earlier to claim the No. 6 seed with a 10-6 record.

The Vikings, with little margin for error considering their quarterback situation and a 17-3 halftime deficit, started digging their grave on the first possession of the second half.

Harrison Smith’s deflection on an end-zone pass to Green Bay’s Jermichael Finley forced what should have been a 33-yard field-goal attempt. Instead, Minnesota’s Jasper Brinkley was flagged for 12 men on the field before the kick. That gave the Packers a first down at the 9, and Rodgers’ dump-off to fullback John Kuhn turned into a touchdown that made it 24-3.

The Vikings kept digging with three consecutive turnovers, though the defense kept them on life support.

After the touchdown to Kuhn, Clay Matthews sacked Webb, forced a fumble and recovered on fourth-and-3. On the next drive, Webb went left on a bootleg, but Matthews cut him off and hit him just as Webb went deep, with Sam Shields hauling in the interception. The Vikings’ defense forced a three-and-out, but the punt was muffed and Dezman Moses recovered.

Last week, with Ponder at quarterback and Peterson running wild, the Vikings led 20-10 at halftime. On Saturday, the Packers led 17-3.

Webb was terrible in the first half, completing 3 of 12 passes for 22 yards — including 1 of 8 for 8 yards to his wide receivers. With two sacks taken into account, the Vikings had 6 net passing yards.

Peterson ran six times for 31 yards as the Vikings marched to an opening field goal but six times for 17 yards for the rest of the first half.

“We definitely had something going” to start the game, Peterson said. “We were able to establish the run game early, but we needed to get seven instead of three. That kind of hurt us.”

Rodgers, on the other hand, picked up where he left off during the final three quarters last week. He completed 14 of 18 for 205 yards in the half. Running backs DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant did most of the work on the Packers’ first touchdown drive, with a 16-yard screen to Grant setting up Harris’ 9-yard touchdown run.

The Packers made it look too easy in extending their lead to 17-3 late in the half. Taking possession at their 38 with 1:48 to go, Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson for 22, Greg Jennings for 13 and Nelson for 23 to the 3. After a first-down throwaway, Kuhn scored on a draw.

“A lot of times in those two-minute drives, they’re often keyed by a good first play, and we had a completion to Jordy,” Rodgers said. “That kind of got things going for us and we just moved the ball from there.”

NOTES: With his touchdown run before halftime, Kuhn became the only player in the NFL with a touchdown in each of the last four postseasons and is the only player in Packers history with a touchdown catch and reception in two playoff games. … Woodson returned for the Packers after missing the last nine games with a broken collarbone. … Other than a brief period in the Dec. 2 game against Minnesota, the Packers had receivers Jennings, Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb on the field for the first time since Sept. 30. … The Vikings ran the ball on eight of the first nine plays en route to the opening field goal. They’ve scored on their opening possession in each of the last five games. … The Packers had 239 yards in the first half and scored on three of five possessions but went 0 of 4 on third down.