The Green Bay Packers played their best game of the season as they blew out the Minnesota Vikings 45-7 to improve to an NFL-best 9-0 record. Although the Packers have posted a perfect record through the first 10 weeks of the NFL season, they have lacked a complete game on both sides of the ball until dismantling the Vikings.
After winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half, the Packers made head coach Mike McCarthy look like a genius for his decision. Following a strong start on defense, forcing the Vikings offense to a three-and-out, Randall Cobb made the Vikings pay with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown. It was the first time since 2008 that the Packers returned a punt for a touchdown.
After another defensive stop, the rout was on as the Packers went up 14-0 on a 24-yard beautifully thrown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings. It was the type of throw that you left shaking your head wondering how Rodgers was able to do that.
A second-quarter Mason Crosby field goal led the Packers to a 17-0 halftime advantage. Like they have done so many times this season, the Packers started the third-quarter strong with a long drive culminating in a 17-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Jordy Nelson.
It appeared a shutout was brewing at Lambeau Field, but a Cobb muffed punt gave the Vikings a short field and Adrian Peterson converted by punching in a touchdown run from three yards out. Rodgers added two more touchdown passes to give the Packers a 38-7 lead before turning it over to Matt Flynn. On his only full drive, Flynn led the Packers to their final touchdown, a three-yard exclamation point run from Flynn himself.
Rodgers finished the game completing 23 of his 30 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns. Rodgers found Jennings, John Kuhn and Nelson twice for scores. With the outstanding performance, Rodgers left the field with a 140.3 QB Rating.
While Rodgers has been sensational all season long, the Packers defense came into the game struggling to prevent opposing offenses from running and throwing all over the field. The problem wasn't so much the points allowed, but the extremely high amount of yardage given up.
After calling the defense the liability of the team following a poor defensive performance against the Chargers, Charles Woodson was all over the field wreaking havoc for rookie Christian Ponder. Woodson finished the game with a team-high combined nine tackles, one tackle for a loss, three passes deflected and a QB hit.
Communication issues had eaten at the Packers prior to this game, but they were nowhere to be found against the Vikings. The Packers gave up only three big plays of over 20 yards, after they gave up handfuls against the Chargers. They also intercepted Ponder on a failed flea-flicker as Tramon Williams read the pass beautifully. There were no communication issues as the Packers had both Williams and Morgan Burnett in perfect coverage.
This was the first time this season that the Packers have had a complete game. While it wasn't a perfect performance and there is much to be improved upon, it was the best the Packers have looked for the 60 minutes of a game this season.
Whether it was the offense sustaining long scoring drives, the defense shutting down Peterson and Ponder or Cobb on special teams returning a punt for a score, the Packers dominated the Vikings all game long. If it wasn't for a muffed punt, it is likely that the Packers would have shut out the Vikings.
The Packers are clearly the class of the NFL after 10 weeks, but there is still work to be done. At times they struggled to protect Rodgers, they missed a couple tackles and had troubles consistently running the ball.
Over the next seven games, the Packers have the opportunity to do something special. If they come out to play like they did tonight, it will be almost impossible for any team in the NFL to beat them. The scariest thing is that the Packers can still put together a better game than what they did against the Vikings.
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