Packers 24, Vikings 10; 49ers next in divisional playoff
Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Next game: Saturday, January 12th at San Francisco
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McCarthy to Larry McCarren
On how they reacted to Joe Webb as quarterback:
"We had a long day today. Our staff was preparing for Joe Webb. It came up during the middle of the week that it may happen. It didn't really change much as far as our call or our approach."
On the three different aspects of play:
"We played well as a football team for the first three quarters. We didn't put them away the way we'd like. Our special teams was better than six days ago. The big change was our defense. I'm very proud of the way our guys stepped up."
On holding Adrian Peterson under 100 yards:
"I can't say enough about our defense."
On Jordy Nelson limping off at the end of the game:
"He just got kicked in the back of the leg. We're looking at him."
Aaron Rodgers on NBC about the 49ers game coming up: "Tough challenge...we've got to get healthy."
10:01 p.m. Vikings' 4th Drive :15
Oh-by-the-way completion...and an oh-by-the-way downing of the ball with :01 left. Academic.
See you in San Francisco.
9:50 p.m. Packers' 4th Drive 3:39
Onside kick? Nope. Pooch kick grabbed by Ross and this one's history.
3rd-5 at GB 25: Rodgers to Nelson...and a first down. Another first down, and it's victory formation time.
Uh oh. Nelson limping. Did not want to see that. Ugh.
3rd-12 at GB 29: Grant gets two. We can deal with it.
9:47 p.m. Vikings' 3rd Drive 4:14
Green Bay 24, Minnesota 10
Webb-Jenkins 50 yd TD pass
More oh-by-the-way completions. Webb to Jenkins, a perfect throw versus good coverage. Way too late. 16 yards.
Jenkins deep, wide open. 50 yards. Blown coverage.
9:45 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive 6:24
Whoa. Grant gets eaten up for a five yard loss. Rare, but the guy has not been really quick in his return.
3rd- 8 at GB 45: Sack time. Super blitz, and five straight Packers three-and-outs. Not worried.
9:37 p.m. Vikings' 2nd Drive 9:05
"How did he make this happen?" Wayne Larrivee. That's called Peterson slipping, falling, then running for about 15 yards. Insane. He is just nuts.
Woodson nearly sacks Webb, but he escapes and tosses the ball to Stevens Point.
Pick? Nope. Tramon Williams owned Simpson deep down the far sidelines. Simpson played d-back and prevented the pick.
3rd-10 at GB 49: Webb escapes after faking Mike Neal out of his shorts, but all that work for just one yard.
4th-9 at GB 48: Neal jumps into the neutral zone. Argh.
4th-4 at GB 43: Williams ended that threat with another play of glovelike coverage.
9:33 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 10:40
3rd-8 at GB 33: Kuhn has no chance on the dump-off throw with four Vikings converging on his touchdown-machine-ness.
9:27 p.m. Vikings' 1st Drive 12:25
Webb. Deep. Someday, he'll complete one of those. In another uniform next season, maybe.
3rd-9 at MIN 10: Webb runs himself, and Jones stops him just short of the 20. Punting time. Give in, Minnesota. Give in.
Oh yeah. Packers do have a five-yard offsides penalty on a kickoff. Nobody's perfect. Not even the Packers.
9:20 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive continued from 3rd quarter
3rd-5 at GB 14: Jennings got out of his break late because Jefferson was all over him like "ugly on an ape," as you heard in an old Super Bowl highlight film.
Punt...MUFF!!!! Inside the 40 yard line. Dezman Moses was on the football thanks to Sherels' bobble. Another Minnesota mistake.
3rd-9 at MIN 37: Rodgers to Nelson deep to the goal line, and just off the mark. Robinson all over Nelson.
By the way, no Packers penalties or turnovers yet.
9:17 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive :05
Can we go victory formation for the 3rd quarter?
9:13 p.m. Vikings' 2nd Drive 2:23
Peterson "bottled up" for a gain of six yards. That's the incredible thing about that guy. You bottle him up for six yards.
Webb again has to throw...and Carlson had the ball thrown too far toward the sideline for his good. Packers benefit from inaccuracy.
Webb then has to take off. He'll do better running than throwing. 19 yards. "That's where he can hurt you." - Wayne Larrivee
Webb deep...but Shields adds an exclamation point! Pick! This is just domination. Total domination.
9:08 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 3:59
3rd-15 at GB 40: Diving catch...nope...Cobb went diving, and not enough oomph on it.
8:57 p.m. Vikings' 1st Drive 9:25
Walden eats Peterson for a four yard loss! MONSTER run defense this time around. The Packers are dominating.
Webb to simpson on a slant pattern, and the ball came loose afer Simpson came down at about the 28.
3rd-2 at MIN 28: easy pitch and catch for a first down. First time we've seen that today.
But the second time comes right afterward with Rudolph for 13 yards. Nothing coming from wideouts, or almost nothing. But Rudolph and the backs can catch the ball.
Peterson with one of his first semi-successful bounce-outs, or so we thought, before Shields got a fantastic ankle tackle for two yards.
3rd-8 at MIN 47: Webb is actually getting the feel of things. Wright. Just enough for a frist down. Wright extended his arms for the chain as Jennings tackled him.
Play action...and Hawk wasn't fooled. He had Peterson dead to rights on the short circle pattern over the middle.
The Packers are getting huge penetration on the line, and forcing Peterson into traps.
3rd-8 at GB 43: Webb...Wright...forced out and nowhere near enough for a first down. But do they kick and make it 18 points, or go for it?
Go for it.
4th-3 at GB 38: Webb...FUMBLE! Claymaker with the daily double! Sack + fumble recovery! Game REALLY over now.
8:40 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 15:00
Green Bay 24, Minnesota 3
Kuhn 9 yd TD reception
Seven points here, and this game could be close to over.
"A sliver of an opening" for Harris is four yards. Pretty good. Not Peterson-like, but pretty good.
3rd-2 at GB 28: Simple toss to Jones. Clockwork, despite blanket coverage. Unguardable, when thrown perfectly.
Ugh. Sack time. Griffin. Vikings are simply sending seven guys back every play and rushing four. They'll get their coverage sacks. But Rodgers will still find guys more often.
Rodgers running....sliding...10 yards. Very managable third down coming up. Smart running...sometimes.
3rd-4 at GB 43: James Jones! To the 38. 19 yard gain. "Aaron Rodgers, again, right on the money." - Larry McCarren.
Harris running downhill. "This is just a clinic in the short passing game." - Wayne Larrivee.
Now in the red zone....
Rodgers...bootleg...takes forever...naaaaaaaaaathing open. He was waiting for an open guy, and no one was getting open.
3rd-4 at MIN 14: Rodgers against a blitz, and his throw for Finley stopped a yard away from a touchdown. Great read and pass deflection.
No need to kick a field goal; the Vikings has 12 guys on the field right before the Crosby field goal attempt.
1st-goal at MIN 9: DAGGER! Kuhn!
8:24 p.m. Vikings' 4th Drive :38
Webb to Peterson underneath....but stopped near the 40. They REALLY need a score, and they know it. No going into the locker room to regroup when the Packers could take a three touchdown lead by the 10 minute mark of the 3rd quarter.
3rd-2 at MIN 41, :22 left: hand off to Peterson to get the first down and get out of bounds. Gives them four chances to score.
Nearly picked! Tramon Williams stepped in front of Wright and if that's a catch, that could be a field goal more.
:10 left, MIN 44: Inaccuracy is killing the Vikings right now.
:04 left, MIN 44: Guy wide open, and Webb's throw was uglier than me in the morning.
8:18 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive 2:00
Green Bay 17, Minnesota 3
Kuhn 3 yd TD run
The Packers have a huge chance to blow this game open.
Rodgers to Nelson...perfect slant pattern and Nellie grabbed the top of the football to hold on. 22 yards. Fantastic.
Rodgers again...Jennings...and just like that, the Packers are in SERIOUS business.
Play action...key pass...Nelson again! Leaping catch inside the five! This entire offense is hot.
1st-goal at MIN 3: Rodgers with forever, but he missed Nelson who was controlled by Smith. In reality, Rodgers just chucked it to Crivitz because no one was open.
2nd-goal at MIN 3: Kuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhn!!
8:12 p.m. Vikings' 3rd Drive 3:25
Flaggage on Minnesota cuts down the great return for Minnesota.
Webb deep....accuracy lacking. Big time lacking. Overthrow. If a perfect throw...touchdown Minnesota. But Wilt Chamberlain couldn't have caught that one.
3rd-4 at MIN 18: Raji pushes him, Walden eats him for a huge sack. Green Bay in control so far.
A touchdown to end the half, another TD to start the 2nd half...and Wayne could start sharpening the dagger.
8:03 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 8:26
Green Bay 10, Minnesota 3
Crosby 20 yd FG
Cobb gets a run this time. A lot of "didn't expect this kind of strategy" on both sides this game. I guess you could expect a little Cobb at RB, particularly with Starks gone.
Play action...Crabtree...goes Edwin Moses on A.J. Jefferson! 10 yards.
ARod scrambles and the first real downfield throw of the day gets to Jones! 20 yards on a textbook deep hook pattern. Rodgers' scrambling played a big part.
Dink...dunk...rifle...dink...dump...and it's getting this team into scoring range.
3rd-5 at MIN 34: Nelson was held by Jefferson on the throw to the sideline, but Rodgers overthrew him by 10 yards. Miscommunication.
4th-5 at MIN 34: Jennings! Huge YAC on the catch, inside the 5! A Vikings whiffed on the tackle and the Packers are in range.
1st-goal at MIN 2: Kuhn in...off right side...almost naaaaaaaaaaathin.
2nd-goal at MIN 1: Play action...nope. Finley dropping it again. Might have been deflected by Greenway right at the point of the catch.
3rd-goal at MIN 1: Kuhn....short. Evans slammed into him. Finley's drop cost four points.
7:59 p.m. Vikings' 2nd Drive 9:55
The first real downfield throw of the day - nothin. Inaccurate.
Peterson controlled to a gain of two, thanks to Clay Matthews, Pickett and Raji slamming the middle. A short gain gets huge applause. Respect for Peterson, in a weird way.
3rd-9 at MIN 15: Jenkins with a useless eight-yard gain on the right side. Great three-and-out.
7:53 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 12:48
Harris is playing like a star tonight...or at least making a big contribution. Don Barclay and Jermichael Finley owned the offensive right side. Eight yards.
Rodgers has not had to complete a pass longer than 10 yards today. Easy for him.
First sack of the day on Green Bay. Allen simply beat Newhouse after 10 years...and Rodgers could not find an open receiver.
3rd-19 at GB 42: Underneath throw to Jennings, and he had no chance to get the first down.
7:48 p.m. Vikings' 1st Drive contrinued from 1st quarter
Webb. 10 yards. "Old Joe Webb, he had all day." But he's running it, and he'll run more than he throws tonight, I think.
Webb couldn't escape Clay Matthews! Specifically, he couldn't escape Matthews' butt as the Claymaker scrambled to get up.
3rd-15 at MIN 26: As Walden was destroying Webb, he threw the ball towards Shawano and got an intentional grounding penalty along with a loss of down. Webb is making boneheaded mistakes.
7:45 p.m. Vikings' 3rd Drive :28
Adrian Peterson, meet Ryan Pickett. Rather, get eaten by Ryan Pickett.
7:31 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 6:11
Green Bay 7, Minnesota 3
Harris 9 yd TD run
Packers so far are not winning the field position battle. That must change.
3rd-2 at GB 26: Grant in the game now, and with 50 million flags all over the field, he doesn't get anywhere near the first down - but the defense lined up in the neutral zone. Kevin Williams.
Screen. Harris. Darn good yardage. As if it was the power sweep, but Jennings and Cobb were the Kramer and Thurston. 14 yards. Lovely.
Packers are utilizing Harris, perhaps making the Vikings worry about the Big 5 and just pounding the underneath. Body blows until they can go for the head? Maybe.
Finley - the first catch by the Big 5. Easy hook pattern underneath the zone. Simple. Unguardable.
Harris again! Fantastic utilization to get the little guy in space. Dump off and he chugged for seven more yards.
Grant! Inside the 10! Sanford stopped a touchdown. Downhill screen pass. Simple stuff. Easy stuff. No high-risk stuff. It works.
1st-goal at MIN 9: Harris with the toss...cutback...cutback...end zone? End zone? Waiting....waiting....nope.
2nd-goal at MIN 0.5: or is it? Not necessarily. Mike McCarthy has challenged the call that Harris got the ball past the plane of the goal line before his knee touched.
7:23 p.m. Vikings' 2nd Drive 8:09
Webb prepared for this role tonight. They're calling a lot of his number. 11 yards for a first down after a play fake.
I bet the Vikings knew Ponder couldn't play. They asked him to make a few throws in warm-ups, just to keep the Packers off balance as long as they could.
Burnett gets to Peterson for just three yards. Just two yards.
3rd-2 at GB 48: Webb was slamed in the backfield and just tossed the ball up in the air - "about as dumb a play as a quarterback can make in a playoff game." - Wayne Larrivee
Incomplete. Thankfully for the Vikings.
7:21 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 9:25
Ross with a pretty good kick return, bouncing outside to the 26 yard line. North-south does the job, normally, but he did enough east-west to do the job.
Cobb gets in immediately with a one-man screen outside, and he did the rest for seven yards.
Quick count...and Harris gets the first run play of the day. More, the first spin play of the day. All his yards came from a spin.
3rd-1 at GB 38: Harris with a horrific drop. He was moving away from the ball, and Rodgers underthrew him. Harris, though, wasn't ready.
7:07 p.m. Vikings' 1st Drive 15:00 left in 1st quarter
Minnesota 3, Green Bay 0
Walsh 32 yd FG
First play: Peterson...four yards...normally, that's not a good average. For the Packers, it's pretty good compared to his 1,000,000 yards/carry the first two meetings.
3rd-3 at MIN 39: Webb makes his first run and it's very Peterson-like. Well, maybe not Peterson-like, but he broke tackles and squirmed for 18 yards. Ugh.
Eight yards for Peterson on 1st down. I knew this would be a challenge all day. Oh yeah. Peterson's called "all day."
11 yards more into the red zone, and this is getting clinical. Peterson will get his. That is obvious.
First play action pass? Webb....nope. A called run.
FINALLY! Someone stops Peterson at the 15! Woodson on a run blitz!
3rd-7 at GB 15: Underthrow of Jenkins. Late pressure did that pass in. Larry: "That was a really ugly throw."
Vikings call tails, but the Packers win. They defer to the second half - smartly.
As Larry McCarren put it, this weather, for a January night in Green Bay, is downright balmy.
Mike McCarthy to Wayne Larrivee
On Joe Webb taking over for Christian Ponder:
"Webb, very athletic quarterback...we're ready to go. We have a good plan. We have to keep him contained."
How do they stop Adrian Peterson:
"Good sound run defense. He's the main force of their football team. It's not a one-man deal. Everybody has to get off blocks. Everybody has to tackle."
How will the Packers utilize their now-healthy wide-receiver corps:
"It's about playing with matchups, utilizing formations."
Who will run punts/kickoffs tonight? Randall Cobb, or not?
"Both Randall Cobb and Jeremy (Ross) will get in the return game tonight."
Starks and Driver are among Packers inactives tonight.
Driver - sad to say it - not a big deal. The big 4 WR's plus Finley would eat up his playing time anyway.
Starks was the most effective running back this year for Green Bay, in my opinion. This hurts the Packers, as the Vikings' pass rushers like Jared Allen can pin their ears back.
No Christian Ponder for the Vikings at quarterback. NBC showed him warming up his elbow, and it just can't go. Joe Webb, a more athletic but not-so-accurate QB, will take over.
Watch for Webb to try to play a mini-Michael Vick tonight. Dangerous? Maybe. But probably not dramatic.
Packers guard T.J. Lang will be playing with a heavy heart today. He tweeted this:
"365 days since I lost my dad.. Not a day goes by I don't think about him. Miss ya dad. Go pack "
Every NFL playoff game is special, but tonight's NFC wildcard game may turn into one of those contests that the history books will call one of the great ones.
It's not yet time to take the crown of greatest quarterback ever from Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or one of their contemporaries and hand it to Packers signalcaller Aaron Rodgers.
Nor is it proper yet to grab that trophy from the mantle of Jim Brown, Walter Payton or Emmett Smith and dish it to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
But tonight brings the chance to further make their case, and the prime time playoff spotlight tends to make legends shine brightest.
Just think about what these men have done in their half-careers (or shorter, in Rodgers' case).
Rodgers' passer ratings in the last four seasons all stand among the top 50 in NFL history, and he currently holds the best career passer rating in the 92-year annals of the NFL.
Peterson's 2,097 rushing yards this year stands second for a single season behind Eric Dickerson's 2,105 yards in 1985. If he stays healthy for slightly more than six more seasons, on his current per-year pace, he'll break Emmett Smith's mark of 18,355 yards in the 2019 season.
(Of course, that's a big if for a running back.)
Records, however, don't win playoff games. Excellence does, and both Rodgers and Peterson have the chance to have huge nights.
We all know the incredible levels Rodgers can reach, and the Vikings pass defense is more than porous, giving up more than 300 yards three times in the last four weeks - and not just to Rodgers, but the inconsistent Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams.
The Packers' run defense also have allowed Peterson to turn them into Swiss cheese, running for more than 200 yards in both meetings.
This could be one of those games where Peterson could make it a triple crown of 200 yard rushing days for four touchdowns, but Rodgers could top him with a 400-yard, five-touchdown pass night.
But remember, football is a team game, and these men are just 1/46th of their playoff-quality rosters.
Peterson needs a world-class offensive line to block for him in not-so-dome-like conditions, while Rodgers' line has to improve from their five-sacks-allowed performance last Sunday.
However, Rodgers' full compliment of receivers is healthy again (with the exception of 5th or 6th-stringer Jarrett Boykin), and that weaponry could - and probably should - put the Packers over the top tonight.
It's very possible that a Hall-of-Fame, one-for-the-record-books night won't be enough to win for one of these superstars.
Even if it doesn't, relish the fact you're watching greatness in green and gold, and in purple and gold, on the game's most historic stage.