The Green Bay Packers played a strong game on both sides of the ball and crushed the Minnesota Vikings 33-10. Jordan Love threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns while Aaron Jones gained 120 yards rushing on 20 carries as the Packers improved to 8-8 on the season. A win next week over the Bears at Lambeau Field would clinch a playoff berth for the Packers who now control their own destiny. Here are 10 things we learned from the Packers 33-10 win over the Vikings.

First Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: Jordan Love Continues to Mature

Perhaps no two games illustrate the growth of Love in his first year as the starter as the two contests against the Vikings. Minnesota likes to show different blitz packages and disguise their coverages and that can be tough on an inexperienced quarterback. Love struggled in the first meeting but was in command in the rematch.

Love threw for three touchdowns and ran for another and finished the game with a quarterback rating of 125.3. That is the sixth time in the last seven games Love has a quarterback rating of 100 or higher.

He made accurate deep throws when necessary and took his checkdowns when they were open as well. Love was in control against a difficult defense to play against and the Packers only punted twice all game and the offense did not turn the ball over.

Love accomplished all this without many of his top receivers but was unphased and continued to play with confidence.

Second Thing We Learned: Aaron Jones Makes a Big Difference

For the second straight week, Jones went over 100 yards rushing for the game. He adds another dimension to the offense with his ability to cut back and burst through the hole.

Defenses have to respect Jones and that opens up opportunities for other players as well.

The former UTEP star had 21 touches and when he has 20 or more touches in a game, the Packers are now 21-3. When he gains 100 yards or more on the ground, the Packers are 17-2.

Jones had to work hard because A.J. Dillon got banged up during the game. Jones has been a difference maker since being healthy enough to play without being on a play count.

Third Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: The Defense Contained Justin Jefferson

The Packers defense entered this game in a major slump. The last three weeks, they had made non-elite quarterbacks look like future Hall of Famers. Joe Barry’s unit started this game without Eric Stokes and Jaire Alexander due to injury and a suspension.

But the defense contained an elite receiver like Justin Jefferson. The Vikings targeted Jefferson 10 times in the game, but he caught five passes for just 59 yards. His longest catch of the game was 21 yards.

Some of those catches came well after the outcome of the game was determined, so they did not have a major impact on the outcome.

Corey Ballentine and Carrington Valentine were the starting corners, and they did a good job of containing Jefferson. The pressure from the pass rush helped as well.

While Barry deserved a lot of criticism for the poor play of the defense over the last three games, his group rose to the occasion and prevented one of the most dangerous receivers in the game today from being a factor.

Fourth Thing We Learned: The Pass Rush Helped Create Turnovers

The Packers created two turnovers in this game, and both were critical to the team’s success. The defense came up with a big interception on Minnesota’s second drive of the game with the Pack ahead 3-0.

Rookie quarterback Jaren Hall’s pass was picked off by Ballentine. Hall had pressure coming from up the middle and didn’t fully step into his throw which was behind the intended receiver.

That gave the Packers the ball at the Minnesota 33. Two plays later, Love found Jayden Reed in the end zone for a touchdown to make it 10-0 Green Bay.

Just before halftime, Preston Smith sacked Hall and punched the ball out. Karl Brooks fell on it at the Minnesota 37 with 26 seconds left in the half.

Love found Reed again a couple of plays later for a 25-yard touchdown pass and the Packers went into halftime up 23-3. Had the Vikings scored on that drive, they could have pulled to within 17-10 and gotten the ball to start the second half. It was a major turning point in the game.

The Packers sacked Vikings quarterbacks four times. More importantly, they put consistent pressure on the Minnesota signal callers and were credited with 14 quarterback hits. Smith led the way with three while Rashan Gary, Quay Walker Devonte Wyatt had two each.

Fifth Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: Jayden Reed and Bo Melton Stepped Up

The Packers were without Christian Watson and Dontavion Wicks in this game but the receivers who did play stepped up and made plays.

Reed played through pain and caught six passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game in the second half when he aggravated his chest injury. Had the other receivers been available, Reed’s role may have been reduced but he came through and made plays.

Bo Melton caught six passes for 105 yards and scored his first NFL touchdown. He also grabbed a 37-yard pass from Sean Clifford in the final minute that was Clifford’s first career NFL throw.

Tucker Kraft also made six catches for 48 yards and provided Love with a reliable short target whenever the Vikings blitzed.

The receivers got the job done despite the injuries.

Sixth Thing We Learned: Injuries Continue to Mount

The Packers continue to deal with more injuries. In addition to Reed and Dillon leaving the game early, inside linebacker Isaiah McDuffie suffered a possible concussion and was replaced by Eric Wilson.

Center Josh Myers was shaken up late in the fourth quarter and the extent of his injury is not certain.

Jones briefly got hit on his knee but returned after a few plays and a quick examination in the medical tent.

The Packers need as many players back in the lineup as possible for the season finale.

Seventh Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: Special Teams Mistakes Continued

The Packers made two major mistakes on special teams in this game, but they hardly figured in the outcome because the game was so one-sided.

Anders Carlson missed another extra point. This one came late in the first half after the second touchdown catch by Reed.

Then, in the fourth quarter, Samori Toure muffed a punt that gave the Vikings the ball at the Green Bay seven. Two plays later, the Vikings scored their only touchdown to make the score 30-10 Green Bay with 14:06 remaining in the game.

The punt coverage was strong, but the Packers did allow a 47-yard kick return by Kene Nwangwu. Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia still has some things to clean up heading into next week against the Bears.

Eighth Thing We Learned: The Run Defense Was Good Enough

The Packers run defense was good enough. Playing with a lead helped as did the fact that Minnesota is not a strong running team. But the Vikings only gained 67 yards in this game and their long run of the game was just nine yards.

The run defense did their job and helped the team earn a big win.

Ninth Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: The Offensive Line Played Well

The Vikings defense never sacked Love in this game despite all the exotic blitzes they like to run. The offensive line did a good job of picking up the pass rushers. In fact, the Vikings were only credited with three quarterback hits all game.

The running game was also effective. The Packers ran 39 times for 177 yards and those totals include two kneel downs by Clifford for minus-two yards at the end of the game.

The Packers offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and allowed Love and Jones to do their thing throughout the game.

Tenth Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: The Playoffs Are Within Reach

Just like last season, the Packers head into their last game of the season in control of their own destiny. Beat the Bears and they’re in the playoffs. They would also have a winning season, something few people expected coming into the season.

Since Matt LaFleur took over as head coach of the Packers in 2019, the team has never played a regular season game in which they didn’t have a chance at the playoffs.

This young team can prove a lot of people wrong with one more win. Let’s see if they can do it Sunday at Lambeau Field.



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

Click here for more great Packers coverage