The Green Bay Packers advanced to the Divisional Playoffs next week by dismantling the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 24 - 10. The Packers had been rightfully embarrassed by allowing Adrian Peterson to run wild against them last week and also in their first meeting with the Vikings six weeks ago. But, the Packer defense was determined that would not happen this time around and it didnít.
Viking quarterback Christian Ponder was scratched from this game due to injury and his replacement wasnít up to the task of winning a playoff game in Lambeau on Saturday. The Vikings drew first blood with a field goal, but Aaron Rodgers and Company responded quickly and with a vengeance. Joe Webb, Ponderís replacement, started showing his inadequacies as a passer in the second quarter about the same time that Rodgers started warming up.
The Vikings played a classic Cover Two defense the entire game. Rodgers responded by putting on a clinic in taking the check-down short passes that Cover Two tends to allow, and soon it was 17 Ė 3 at halftime. Mike McCarthy has chosen to defer to his defense whenever the Packers win the coin toss this year. The thinking is that the Packers like to finish the first half strong and then get the ball back to start the second half. That strategy worked out to perfection Saturday as the Packers took the opening drive of the second half down the field on an 80-yard, 12-play touchdown drive, taking an insurmountable 24 Ė 3 lead.
The Vikings had no counter punch to throw with the hapless Webb. Meanwhile, Peterson was getting swallowed up by a Packer defense that executed with gap control discipline. The return of Charles Woodson played a big part in the difference. At 36 years old, Woodson can still tackle with controlled violence as Peterson found out a couple times.
The Packersí offense stalled out in the third and fourth quarter as they tried to salt the game away by running the ball. If the Vikings had fielded a balanced offense that might have been a problem, however Joe Webb continued to throw the ball like Joe Webb and that wasnít good enough.
In summary, the Packersí defense rose to the occasion in a playoff scenario, holding Adrian Peterson to less than 100 yards. Peterson didnít get the single season rushing record last week and this week the Vikings are headed home, one and done. Aaron Rodgers and Company had their moments but only had an average day considering their awesome potential. The Packer offense left lots of points on the field in this game and hopefully will do better next week.
So, the Packers travel on to San Francisco next week to confront the 49ers. The 49ers kicked their butts back on opening day in September, but that was 3 Ĺ months ago and the dynamics of both teams have changed considerably. The 49ers have a very good team although they have slumped a little in recent weeks. They have a very stout defense and a dangerous runner in Frank Gore.
The outcome next week may depend on the respective quarterback performances. Aaron Rodgers is the best in the league. The 49ersí quarterback is talented but inexperienced and perhaps the Packers can parlay that into a couple turnovers. The 49ers should be slightly favored and that gives the ever-competitive Rodgers all that more incentive for a great game in his native California.
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