The Green Bay Packers haven’t been very lucky this season when ti comes to keeping their players and especially receivers healthy. However, with Aaron Rodgers running the show, having only Jordy Nelson as a recognizable receiving target is more than enough to put on impressive offensive performances.
It wasn’t easy putting the game against the falling-apart Minnesota Vikings to bed, but the Packers slowly and steadily built their lead, especially in the second half, coming away with a 44-31 win that wasn’t really that close, improving to a division best 5-2, 0.5 games better than the Detroit Lions, while the Vikings spiral further down the road to uncertainty.
Rodgers finished with 24-of-29 for 285 yards and 2 touchdown passes, even though he’s missing Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley. However, he makes lesser known names work as well, not to mention Jordy Nelson, who has turned into his favorite target. Nelson caught 7 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns, even though he should have been the only one the Vikings defense had to focus on. Greg Jennings, formerly with the Packers, was playing on the other side, not catching passes from Christian Ponder, finishing with one reception for nine yards.
Finally having a running game has really taken a lot of pressure off of the Packers. Rodgers doesn’t have to throw 30-40 times a game just to give his team a chance to win anymore. Eddie Lacy ran for 94 yards on 29 carries, scoring a touchdown. James Starks scored a touchdown himself, carrying the ball 7 times for 57 yards. Even Aaron Rodgers found it quite easy to pick up yards against the Vikings defense, going for 31 on 6 carries.
He did focus most of his passing effort at Nelson, but others were involved as well: Jarrett Boykin caught five passes and so did Myles White, which will have to be the names Rodgers turns to for at least a few more games considering the short hand he’s been dealt over the last few weeks.
The Vikings didn’t turn the ball over, but they’re simply looking worse and worse each week. Adrian Peterson looks like a shell of his former self, running 13 times for 60 yards, but the Vikings find themselves behind so often there really isn’t a chance for him to pick up yards in impressive amounts. Christian Ponder didn’t turn the ball over at all, but there’s not really anything the Vikings can expect to achieve when they switch their quarterback every other week in hopes of the dice, for once, falling on the right side. Even the kickoff return by Cordarelle Peterson for 109 yards didn’t cheer anyone up too much, the longest kickoff return TD in NFL history. Too many names are going to be gone by the end of this season and maybe even before.
I think this is really shaping up to be one of Aaron’s best years. Aaron’s had a lot of challenges Monday through Saturday that don’t show up on the stat sheet, just trying to get on the same page with younger players and trusting the game plan.