Aaron Rodgers, Packers Rout Vikings With Kirk Cousins Out; GB Clinches NFC's Top Seed

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 3, 2022

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers warms up prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on January 02, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The road to the Super Bowl runs through Green Bay.

The Green Bay Packers clinched the NFC's No. 1 seed and only first-round bye with a 37-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Sunday's NFC North showdown at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams led the way for the victors, who improved to 13-3 with their fifth consecutive win and will now have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Minnesota was without quarterback Kirk Cousins and was eliminated from playoff contention as it fell to 7-9.

Notable Player Stats

  • Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB: 29-of-38 passing for 288 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
  • Davante Adams, WR, GB: 11 catches for 136 yards, 1 TD
  • AJ Dillon, RB, GB: 14 carries for 63 yards, 2 TDs; 2 catches for 20 yards
  • Aaron Jones, RB, GB: 8 carries for 76 yards; 5 catches for 30 yards
  • Allen Lazard, WR, GB: 6 catches for 72 yards, 1 TD
  • Sean Mannion, QB, MIN: 22-of-36 passing for 189 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs

Rodgers, Offense Look Unstoppable as Packers Clinch Bye

This year is championship-or-bust for the Packers, meaning Sunday's game took on even more importance because clinching the first-round bye would both eliminate a necessary playoff game and give them an opportunity to rest their stars in Week 18 to further preserve their health for the postseason.

It took them some time to seize that opportunity, though, as three of their first four possessions stalled in the red zone for two field goals and a turnover on downs.

However, it was just a matter of time before Rodgers broke through, and he did just that with a perfectly placed ball to Allen Lazard for the game's first touchdown in the second quarter. He was far from done and extended the lead to a seemingly insurmountable 20-0 before halftime with another touchdown pass to Adams.

B/R Gridiron @brgridiron

What a play 😱<br><br>Rodgers heaves it up to Allen Lazard for 6<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>)<a href="https://t.co/TVu0yoJpWF">pic.twitter.com/TVu0yoJpWF</a>


Aaron Jones is running wild in the first half. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoPackGo?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoPackGo</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MINvsGB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MINvsGB</a> on NBC<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/nJofcz3BpO">https://t.co/nJofcz3BpO</a> <a href="https://t.co/pW28MrvEGo">pic.twitter.com/pW28MrvEGo</a>

B/R Gridiron @brgridiron

Rodgers to Adams is just unstoppable 😂<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>)<a href="https://t.co/7WUyM7H6Cz">pic.twitter.com/7WUyM7H6Cz</a>


They can't be stopped. <a href="https://twitter.com/AaronRodgers12?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AaronRodgers12</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/tae15adams?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@tae15adams</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MINvsGB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MINvsGB</a> on NBC<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/nJofcz3BpO">https://t.co/nJofcz3BpO</a> <a href="https://t.co/kpPvHZNhym">pic.twitter.com/kpPvHZNhym</a>

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

The Rodgers-Adams dynamic duo is at it again 🔥 <br><br>Rodgers: 211 YDS, 2 TD<br>Adams: 8 REC, 118 YDS, 1 TD<br><br>Packers lead 20-3 at the half <a href="https://t.co/4jM9ShDWM3">pic.twitter.com/4jM9ShDWM3</a>


AJ Dillon is TOO STRONG. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoPackGo?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoPackGo</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MINvsGB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MINvsGB</a> on NBC<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/nJofcz3BpO">https://t.co/nJofcz3BpO</a> <a href="https://t.co/7hgyNISS3D">pic.twitter.com/7hgyNISS3D</a>

Green Bay's offense started operating with surgical precision after the initial slow start, as Adams went over the century mark for yardage in the first half and Aaron Jones exploded through holes at the line of scrimmage while also getting involved in the aerial attack.

It wasn't difficult to envision the Packers lifting the Lombardi Trophy as the onslaught continued into the second half. Rodgers, Adams and Jones generate most of the headlines, and deservedly so, but AJ Dillon got into the fun by churning out tough yardage between the tackles before finding the end zone multiple times.

Everything was clicking for Green Bay as it enacted some revenge against its rivals and clinched that No. 1 seed with an entire week remaining.

That means Rodgers and the red-hot offense won't play a meaningful game in three weeks, but they also proved Sunday they can quickly bounce back from something of a slow start with plenty of playmakers. Perhaps there will be some rust to overcome, but No. 12 is operating an offense that looks ready to win the Super Bowl.

Shorthanded Vikings Had No Chance

Minnesota may have beaten the Packers the first time they faced each other this season, but doing so again Sunday figured to be quite the daunting task with Cousins on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

That was apparent right out of the gates.

The Vikings' first five possessions ended with a turnover on downs and four punts as Sean Mannion struggled to find anything downfield and was far too reliant on safety valves and short throws. Green Bay's defense made a point of containing Dalvin Cook, and the fact the visitors fell behind 20-3 by halftime largely neutralized the threat of the consistent run game.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

BIG MAN WITH THE CATCH AND RUN 🤯<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>)<a href="https://t.co/JE8j8wVWqx">pic.twitter.com/JE8j8wVWqx</a>


Sean Mannion's first career TD pass! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SKOL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SKOL</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MINvsGB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MINvsGB</a> on NBC<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/nJofcz3BpO">https://t.co/nJofcz3BpO</a> <a href="https://t.co/WZ1eJEtKkk">pic.twitter.com/WZ1eJEtKkk</a>

Playing from behind against Rodgers and Co. is a recipe for a loss for basically any quarterback in the league, and that certainly applied to Mannion.

After all, he hadn't appeared in a game since 2019 and entered play with zero touchdown passes and three interceptions. A dramatic comeback against arguably the NFL's best team wasn't in the cards, especially with the ability to rely on the dynamic Cook largely out of the picture because of the rough start.

Green Bay's defense deserves plenty of credit as well.

Not only did it swarm to Cook's running lanes, it kept Justin Jefferson in relative check while the game was still hanging in the balance and pressured Mannion enough to make him even more uncomfortable on the road. Combine that with the dominant Packers offense, and the Vikings didn't have much of a chance Sunday.           

What's Next?

Both teams finish their regular seasons against division foes in Week 18 when the Packers travel to face the Detroit Lions and the Vikings host the Chicago Bears.