The Green Bay Packers cruised past the Minnesota Vikings 37-10 at Lambeau Field Sunday night.
Green Bay got two touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers and two touchdown runs from A.J. Dillon while Davante Adams caught 11 passes for 136 yards and a score. Meanwhile, the Packers defense shut down the Vikings who were without starting quarterback Kirk Cousins.
With the win, the Packers improved to 13-3-0 on the season and locked up the top seed in the NFC this season with one game left on their schedule.
Here are 10 things we learned from the Packers 37-10 win over the Vikings:
- Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams Have a Special Chemistry
The numbers speak for themselves. Rodgers completed 29-of-38 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns and had a quarterback rating of 114.8 while Adams caught 11 passes for 136 yards and a score. But there was more to it than just the numbers. Rodgers and Adams are both playing at such an elite level and their chemistry is outstanding.
The two can communicate with a quick glance or a gesture and they know how to stay on the same page as a play develops. If the defender is on the outside shoulder of Adams, the ball comes to the inside. When the corner takes the inside, the throw comes to the back shoulder and is delivered precisely where only Adams can reach it.
Adams now has more than 100 yards receiving in five of the team’s last six games and has caught eight touchdown passes in those six games.
This duo is a pure joy to watch and it is nearly impossible to completely shut them down and very difficult to contain them.
- The Run Defense Answered the Call
After last week’s poor showing against Cleveland, Packers fans were concerned about what Dalvin Cook would do against the team’s run defense. We’ve seen Cook beat the Packers almost single-handedly before and with the cold weather and Cousins out of the lineup, we knew the Vikings had to run the football.
One week after giving up more than eight-yards per rush, the Packers run defense shut down the Vikings ground attack almost completely. Minnesota finished the game with just 27 yards on the ground on 11 carries, an average of just 2.5-yards per attempt.
Cook was completely neutralized as he ran the ball nine times for 13 yards and a long gain of just six yards.
The Packers got penetration against the Minnesota offensive line and stayed in their lanes to prevent Cook from getting around the edge or from breaking long runs inside.
Without the threat of the pass, the Packers run defense took care of business.
- The Packers Contained Justin Jefferson
With Cousins out due to Covid-19, Sean Mannion was unable to find the dangerous Justin Jefferson downfield. Jefferson did catch six passes but for only 58 yards and a long of just 16 yards.
The Packers were able to concentrate on stopping the shorter routes because Mannion couldn’t throw deep downfield because of the freezing weather and the Packers pass rush.
The secondary did a good job of covering Jefferson who was targeted 11 times. They also didn’t allow him many yards after the catch which prevented short passes from becoming splash plays.
- The Defense Was Strong Overall
With Cousins out and the Vikings two biggest offensive weapons neutralized, the Minnesota offense was stymied by the Green Bay defense. Sure, the weather and Cousins’ absence were factors, but the Vikings picked up just one first down on their opening drive and then didn’t have another until their final drive of the first half.
In between those two, there were four 3-and-outs that saw Minnesota gain four total yards on 12 offensive plays.
By halftime, the were ahead 20-3 and the game was all but decided.
The Vikings finished the game with just 206 total yards and had only 70 yards in the first half. This was a strong performance by the Green Bay defense who did what they were expected to do against Minnesota’s backup quarterback.
- Green Bay Ran the Ball Very Effectively
It was officially 11 degrees at kickoff with a wind chill of minus-one. That meant throwing the ball may not be the easiest thing to do so the Packers ran the ball early and often and very effectively.
The Packers rushed 32 times for 174 yards, a 5.4-yard average per rush. Best of all, Matt LaFleur balanced his runners with both Aaron Jones and Dillon carrying the ball for long stretches depending on the down and distance and the type of run play they wanted to run.
Jones gained 76 yards on eight carries and was effective early while Dillon pounded the ball late and finished with 63 yards on 14 carries and scored twice. Both running backs were also effective as receivers.
The Packers held the ball for 38:33 in this game compared to just 21:27 for the Vikings and time of possession was indicative of the way this game was played.
By mixing it up and giving both backs work, LaFleur is keeping defenses off balance and both runners fresh for the playoffs.
- Allen Lazard Continues to Shine
Allen Lazard is not a star in this league but he continues to show how valuable he is to the Green Bay offense. He caught six passes for 72 yards and a touchdown which was big considering Randall Cobb was still out and both Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown have been battling injuries in recent weeks.
Lazard also does the little things that matter like when he made a picture-perfect block on a quick pass to Adams that sprung Tae for a key first down.
Lazard continues to contribute and not always in ways that show up directly on the stat sheet.
- The Packers May Have Found a Punt Returner
GM Brian Gutekunst signed David Moore to the practice squad and elevated him to the active roster for the Vikings game. He returned punts and did well, averaging 11-yards per runback on three returns including a 21-yarder that is the team’s longest punt return of the season.
Whether Moore will be on the active roster again next week remains to be seen but he does seem like a short-term upgrade over the inconsistent Amari Rodgers going forward.
- Davante Adams Broke His Own Record
With 11 catches, Adams has 117 for the season. That breaks his own franchise record of 116 that he set last season. There is still one game left on the schedule this year although it is not certain Tae will play much if at all next week in Detroit.
Adams missed one game earlier this season and still managed to top his record-setting 2020 campaign.
The Packers have hinted they may use the franchise tag on Adams if they can’t reach an agreement with their All Pro wide receiver. Whichever way they do it, the Pack needs to find a way to keep Adams in a Packers uniform beyond this season.
- MVP, MVP
Rodgers continued to lay his claim on another NFL MVP award. His numbers are not as eye-popping as they were a year ago, but this year’s performance may be more impressive considering the obstacles the Packers quarterback and the team have had to overcome.
Rodgers has played through a broken toe and it hasn’t hampered his effectiveness. Four of the team’s five starting offensive linemen from opening day are not available and neither is the Packers starting tight end while many of the team’s wide receivers have missed time as well.
Still, Rodgers just keeps on getting the job done. He has thrown only four interceptions all season. After throwing two in Week 1, he has just two more in the team’s next 15 games.
Entering Week 18, Rodgers is the favorite to win his fourth league MVP.
- Matt LaFleur Set a New Mark
With this victory, LaFleur has a regular-season coaching record of 39-9 with one more game to play in 2021. That gives him the most victories of any coach in NFL history in his first three seasons.
LaFleur should get serious consideration for NFL Coach of the Year but now he needs to win a Super Bowl to take his legacy to the next level.
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