GREEN BAY—Fullback John Kuhn certainly appreciated getting one more chance, let alone two on Saturday night.
Stuffed on handoffs from the two- and one-yard lines in a span of three plays in the second quarter, Kuhn got his number called again on the goal line with less than a minute left in the first half and made it count.
Then on the opening drive of the third quarter, he caught a quick flip from Rodgers for a 9-yard TD that provided Green Bay’s final points in a 24-10 NFC Wild Card playoff victory over Minnesota at Lambeau Field.
“Just an opportunistic night for me,” said Kuhn, who became the first player in franchise history to score both a rushing and receiving TD in two different postseason games. He also did so at Atlanta in the 2010 playoffs.
After the early failures from traditional run formations forced the Packers to kick a chip-shot field goal for a 10-3 lead, Kuhn got a better look at things from a shotgun set the next time down there. He made one cut off a block from right guard Josh Sitton and bulled into the end zone from three yards out, scoring a TD in a fourth consecutive postseason, the only player in the league who can make that claim.
“I was just thankful to get another crack at it,” Kuhn said. “Mike (McCarthy) made that call down there on the two-minute drive, and Josh made a great block on the guy was trying to undercut him.”
The second TD came courtesy of a major blunder by the Vikings, who had 12 defenders on the field when the Packers lined up for a field goal. The penalty gave the Packers a first down, and the quick pass to Kuhn came on the very next snap as the fullback leaped over one tackler and bounced off another at the goal line, keeping his feet the whole time.
That concluded the exact sequence of events McCarthy envisions when he defers after winning the opening coin toss.
When the Packers got the ball with 1:48 left in the first half, they led 10-3. They scored with 38 seconds left, got the ball at the start of the third quarter and scored again to make it 24-3.
In that time, the Vikings had possessed the ball for barely more than a half-minute, saw their deficit grow from seven to 21 points, and had only 9:25 left in the third quarter when they got the ball again.
“When you get that opportunity, we want to be successful in the two-minute, and that allows you, as we say, to ‘double-up’ on them,” receiver Jordy Nelson said. “We were able to do that, and it was big. Especially that first drive in the second half, it took a lot of time off the clock and was methodical.”
More redemption: The night didn’t start well for running back DuJuan Harris, who dropped a short dump-off pass over the middle on third down on the Packers’ opening drive.
“I had to stop thinking about it and just move on,” Harris said. “I was a little mad about it. It hit my hands, and I should have had it. I told myself it wasn’t going to happen again. (Aaron) just told me to let it go, and that’s what I did.”
The new feature back more than made up for it, catching five similar dump-offs for 53 yards and consistently moving the chains for Rodgers as a check-down receiver. The Vikings kept two safeties back much of the game, leaving the short middle open, and Rodgers was simply taking what was there.
“Things like that just happen,” Harris said. “If it’s open, let’s just dump it down and get some easy yards.”
He also added 47 yards rushing for an even 100 yards from scrimmage, just seven yards shy of the total put up by Adrian Peterson (99 rushing, eight receiving).
Won’t get fooled again: Cornerback Sam Shields was burned last week in the Metrodome on a deep ball to receiver Jarius Wright with the Packers in a “cover three” defense, when he peeked into the backfield and let Wright run by him.
In that same coverage on Saturday night, Shields held his ground against Devin Armoashodu and intercepted quarterback Joe Webb’s deep pass along the far sideline, the defense’s second takeaway in as many possessions in the third quarter.
“I wasn’t going to mess that up again,” Shields said of the “cover three” call. “I stayed deep and caught the ball.”
The interception was Shields’ third in the postseason in his career, following two in the 2010 NFC Championship. Those three picks tie him for fourth on the franchise’s playoff list. Additional coverage - Packers vs. Vikings