(Sunday, October 23rd)
Final Score: Green Bay 33, Minnesota 27
Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - Aaron Rodgers had three touchdown passes and the Green Bay Packers recovered from a slow start to take a 33-27 win over the Minnesota Vikings to remain the only unbeaten team in the NFL.
Rodgers completed his first 13 attempts and passed for 335 yards on 24-for-30 attempts while Greg Jennings caught seven passes for 147 yards and a touchdown for the Packers (7-0), who have won nine straight regular season games going back to last year.
Mason Crosby went 4-for-4 on field goal attempts, along with three extra points, and set two team records. His first of the game, a 39-yarder, set a team record for consecutive successful attempts at 19, and his fourth of the game went for 58 yards to break his own record for longest in team history.
James Starks carried the ball 13 times for 75 yards and Ryan Grant added nine attempts for 29 yards for Green Bay, which has next week off before a road game in San Diego in Week 9.
Rookie Christian Ponder made his first start under center and started out well, but was picked off twice in the second half and finished the game 13- for-32 with 219 yards and two scores for the Vikings (1-6), who have dropped their past two games. Adrian Peterson had 175 yards on 24 carries with a score.
"It was great experience for Christian. He did a good job despite all the injuries and other things going on," said Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway. "But we have to continue to push as a team offensively and defensively all the way through the second half. We just didn't do enough."
The Packers never led in the first half, but that quickly changed in the second half when Rodgers hit a wide open Jennings along the right sideline and he took it in on a 79-yard score for a 20-17 lead less than a minute into the second half.
A quick three-and-out from Minnesota saw the team punt the ball and Randall Cobb, who had muffed a punt earlier in the game, returned it 42 yards to the Minnesota 32. Four plays later, Rodgers and Jermichael Finley hooked up on a two-yard score for a 27-17 lead 4 1/2 minutes in.
Ponder was picked off by Charles Woodson on Minnesota's ensuing touch and he took it back to the Minnesota 45. That led to a 24-yard field goal from Crosby with 3:18 to play in the third.
Woodson again picked off Ponder and again that led to a field goal, but this one was a 58-yard boot from Crosby, which could have went several yards farther, to give the Packers a 33-17 lead in the final moments of the third.
After the kickoff, Peterson took a handoff 54 yards on the final play of the third and that led to a 46-yard field goal from Ryan Longwell just over a minute into the fourth.
Green Bay didn't move the ball at all and had to punt, with Minnesota getting it back at its own seven-yard line. On 3rd-and-6, Ponder hit Visanthe Shiancoe for 22 yards and later the QB later scrambled for 12 yards on 3rd-and-7. The 10-play, 93-yard drive was finished when Michael Jenkins outleaped Woodson for a 24-yard score to make it a 33-27 contest with under eight minutes to play.
Green Bay had to punt after getting one first down, but Minnesota was only able to move the ball to its own 36 and had to punt.
The Vikings had all three of their timeouts left when the Packers got the ball back with 2:30 to play, but Green Bay was able to get the first downs it needed to kill off the rest of the clock.
"Their execution picked up at the end. We knew we had to get first downs in order to run the clock out, so that's what we were focused on: moving the chains," said Packers center Scott Wells. "Guys executed well down the stretch, guarding the football and getting extra yards."
Ponder went deep on the first play of the game and got together with Jenkins on a 72-yard bomb. It was initially ruled a touchdown, but the replay showed he was down at the one. It mattered little, however, as Ponder hit Shiancoe on a two-yard score two plays later for a quick 7-0 lead.
The Packers, though, came back with a methodical nine-play drive that saw Rodgers go 5-for-5 for 69 yards with his two-yard TD pass to John Kuhn at the goal line tying the game with 8:34 left in the first.
Following an exchange of punts, Minnesota was again forced to punt, but Cobb muffed the catch and the Vikings recovered at midfield. Peterson gave the Vikings a 14-7 lead with a one-yard push into the end zone with under 12 minutes to play in the half.
Green Bay responded with a 39-yard field goal from Crosby to cap an 11-play drive, but Minnesota came right back with a season-long 52-yard boot from Longwell.
The field goal came with less than a minute left, but it was plenty of time for the Packers to get into scoring position and Crosby's 45-yard kick on the final play of the half made it a 17-13 game at the break.
Minnesota plays at Carolina next Sunday...Green Bay has won the last three games against Minnesota...Rodgers has 20 touchdown passes compared to just three interceptions on the season...Shiancoe had four catches for 45 yards while Jenkins finished the game with three catches for 111 yards...Minneosta outgained Green Bay, 435-421, but held the ball for just 27:54...Woodson has 52 interceptions in his career.
10/23 20:43:27 ET
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