In what Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy termed a “significant victory,” the Packers defense came to life and eased concerns about its performance through the first half of the season, and Aaron Rodgers and the offense lit up the scoreboard, again, for a 45-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football.
“This game was a significant victory for us. Stay in command, stay in control of our division. As a football team, we needed a significant victory,” McCarthy told reporters following the game.
The score made it the widest margin of victory for the Packers this season, against a Vikings team that only three weeks earlier had lost to the Packers by six points. What it means is the Vikings have lost to the Packers by the smallest and largest margins in the Packers’ 9-0 start to the season.
“It’s the best game because of the margin of victory,” McCarthy said. “At the end of the day, it’s about points. When all three phases win as they did tonight, you have a chance for that outcome.”
Here’s what the Packers’ three phases did against the Vikings:
Special teams opened the scoring when rookie return man Randall Cobb went 80 yards with a punt, following a three-and-out on the Vikings’ first possession of the game. Cobb also fumbled a punt that allowed the Vikings their only score, and he returned a kickoff 55 yards to set up another Packers score.
“He has three fumbles in nine games and that’s not cutting it,” McCarthy said of Cobb. It is the lone negative from the win.
Rodgers and the offense gained 356 yards, dominated time of possession by six-and-a-half minutes, was forced to punt only twice in the game and scored touchdowns on four consecutive possessions in the second half.
The defense, ranked 30th in the league in yards allowed and 27th in third-down efficiency, likely improved those rankings after having allowed the Vikings just 266 yards of offense and limited the Vikings to five of 14 in third-down conversion attempts.
“We are really moving on to Tampa Bay,” McCarthy said, referring to the Packers’ next opponent, at Lambeau Field this Sunday. “It’s a challenging part of our schedule.”
Rodgers added four more touchdown passes to his season’s total, now at 28, and his 140.3 passer rating added to his league lead in that category. Rodgers tossed two touchdown passes to Jordy Nelson and one each to Greg Jennings and John Kuhn.
Defense, however, was the star of this game, largely due to the concern for its sluggish performance over the first eight games. Clay Matthews enjoyed his first two-sack game of the season, and led a rejuvenated pass-rush that sacked rookie quarterback Christian Ponder three times and hurried him six times.
“I didn’t see anything really different,” McCarthy said when asked if the scheme had been altered to include more blitzing. “We were 48 percent pressure last week. I think we were slightly higher this week.
“Clay and Charles (Woodson) really stood out tonight,” McCarthy added.
The Packers head coach said the focus was on stopping Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 175 yards against the Packers in Week 7, but gained only 51 yards on 14 carries this time. It’s also important to note that Ponder had his roughest outing since being installed as the team’s starter in that game against the Packers. He was 16 of 34 for 190 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and a 52.3 passer rating in this game.
“We played very well tonight and it feels great,” McCarthy said. Additional coverage - Packers vs. Vikings