Then, Aaron Rodgers drops back, a Minnesota defender flies into view and picks off Rodgers for only the third time this season. Kirk Cousins floats a beauty to Stefon Diggs, and the Vikings had capitalized on what the Packers were handing to them.
Another Davante Adams fumble and Packers fans were more worried about whether having to go on the road in two weeks rather than winning this game. Luckily for Green Bay, the defense stayed consistent all night and drove the team home to victory.
Mike Pettine and the Packers held Minnesota to under 200 yards of offense, seven first downs, picked off one of Cousins passes and dropped him in the backfield five times. Kirk Cousins and the Vikings could never truly get comfortable, and apart from getting spotted gorgeous field position off of two turnovers, the Vikings had nothing to show for tonight.
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota's star running back, was held out of tonight's matchup and is expected to be held out next week too. Without a key identity piece on offense, the Vikings were rendered one dimensional and struggled to put anything together for more than a play or two.
What started out ugly for Aaron Jones quickly turned into one of his best showings this season. The star running back converted on runs of 12-yards and 56-yards to put the game to bed.
Aaron Jones had said after the fumble that Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr had called the stage “too bright” for the young running back. It’s safe to say that Jones and the Packers will be the ones relishing this victory.
Kirk Cousins finished the night constantly scrambling and could not seem to find any sort of rhythm. He connected with Diggs for a 25-yard strike to get the Vikings a 10-3 lead but never found any spark after that. Cousins and the Vikings were held to seven total first-downs, 16-31 passing for 122 yards, and a deep shot interception that Kevin King returned to midfield. Minnesota surely missed Dalvin Cook, as the backfield tandem of Ameer Abdullah and Mike Boone only mustered 55 yards.
The main source of Viking struggles? Constant pressure and great line play from the Packers. Za'Darius Smith proved that the Vikings O-line was completely outmatched, running ruck shod into the backfield, registering 3.5 sacks on the evening and multiple tackles for loss. Green Bay suffocated any sort of hope of a comeback late in the game.
Green Bay is still up for a first-round bye in the NFC Playoffs. With some help, they could even be looking at having the NFC Playoffs running through Lambeau Field. By winning the NFC North, the Packers are guaranteed at least a home playoff game.
Minnesota is locked into the six seed and will be on the road in two weeks in the NFC Wild Card Round.
These two teams could meet up again in two weeks in Lambeau Field.
Winning ugly has become both a mantra and a headline for the Packers. No one was exactly sure what to make of this “fraudulent” 11-3 football team. After tonight, if their defense plays like this and Jones and Jamaal Williams can cut through defenses at ease, then running through the playoffs is not as far fetched as once thought.