The Green Bay Packers marched into the Twin Cities and took what was theirs. They reclaimed control of the NFC North with Sunday’s dominating 30-13 win over the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium.
When the dust settled on Sunday, the Packers and Vikings both boast records of 7-3, but the Packers now own the head-to-head tiebreaker if the playoffs were to start today.
The Packers saw their three-game losing streak come to an end and the Vikings five-game win streak is also history.
There were several key factors in this game. On defense, the Packers held Adrian Peterson to 45 rushing yards, holding him well below his average against Green Bay. In 15 appearances against the Packers, Peterson had averaged a little over 21 carries and 116.5-yards a game.
Once Peterson was held in check, the defense dialed up the pressure on Teddy Bridgewater, sacking the second-year quarterback six times. His agility probably saved him three or four more.
Mason Crosby rebounded from a miss on a potential game winning field goal the week before, by hitting five field goals for the Packers.
On offense, wide receiver James Jones had just three catches total in the previous three losses. Sunday, Jones caught six passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. Teammate Eddie Lacy rushed 22 times for 100 yards.
For weeks, Mike McCarthy has been promising more of a commitment to running the football. But game after game, the Packers failed to stick to that commitment for one reason or another.
On Sunday against the Vikings, the Packers finally followed through. They balanced the play calling by running the ball 34 times and passing the ball 34 times.
Minnesota also helped the Packers with uncharacteristic penalties. The least penalized team in the league (5.3 penalties and 46.9 penalty yards per game) was flagged eight times for 100 yards. It forced the Vikings into several 3rd and longs and helped the Packers keep a drive alive that led to an eventual touchdown.
Sunday looked like a Packers team that knew exactly where they belonged, despite a three-game losing streak. They looked like the team that had been there before and knew how to get the job done.
For the Vikings, it looked like the moment was too big for them. Whether that changes this season or not remains to be seen. The two teams will square off in Green Bay in the regular season finale. You know the Packers will be ready. What about the Vikings?
It’s a quick turn-around for the Packers. They’ll host the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving night at Lambeau Field when the Packers unveil Brett Favre’s retired number-4 on the Lambeau Field façade.