This interception by Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith on a pass intended for Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings came at the end of a play on which the Packers got too tricky for their own good during the third quarter of the game at Lambeau Field on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette Media
Rants and raves from Sunday's game between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. The Packers won 23-14.
Rant: An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Tramon Williams in the third quarter for an alleged hit against “defenseless” receiver Toby Gerhart was a bad call. Williams was merely defending against a pass and didn’t appear to do anything wrong. In the quest for improved safety, NFL officials are having trouble distinguishing between good, clean hits and legitimate cheap shots.
Rave: The two-headed running back tandem of James Starks and Alex Green produced 124 rushing yards on 27 carries for the Packers. Those aren’t Adrian Peterson numbers, but it was a good day’s work and included a 22-yard Starks scamper around right end for a touchdown.
Rant: A third-quarter handoff to Randall Cobb, followed by a lateral back to Rodgers, followed by a deep pass to a double-covered Greg Jennings, didn’t fool the Vikings one bit. Safety Harrison Smith was waiting to pick off the pass. Sometimes the Packers get a little too tricky for their own good.
Rave: The Packers won the turnover battle, a key to their victory. They can be thankful a Jared Allen interception deep in Packers territory late in the second quarter was nullified by a roughing the passer penalty against Everson Griffen.
Rant: Will the Packers ever have their full complement of receivers? Just as Greg Jennings returned from missing the better part of three months with an abdominal tear, Jordy Nelson went down in the first quarter with a hamstring problem.
Rave: James Jones has a knack for catching touchdown passes. He leads the team with nine, including a 32-yard first-quarter grab when he outjumped Vikings cornerback A.J. Jefferson for the ball.
Rant: Before he got hurt, T.J. Lang was called for holding on Brian Robison in the first quarter, which nullified what would have been another touchdown pass to Jones from 14 yards. It was one of six holding penalties against the Packers. Lang’s replacement, Don Barclay, was flagged twice, and Marshall Newhouse, Evan Dietrich-Smith and John Kuhn once each.
Rave: The Packers didn’t have much success containing Peterson, who rushed for 210 yards, but a third-and-1 stop late in the third quarter forced a Vikings punt and gave Green Bay the ball near midfield. The Packers drove 51 yards for a touchdown.
Rant and rave: There was good and bad from placekicker Mason Crosby. He made a 30-yard field goal in the first quarter — but just barely — after bouncing the attempt off the left upright. He also missed from 53 yards to end the first half and kicked off out of bounds to open the second half. But Crosby made 3-of-4 field goals in the game, including a 47-yarder in the third quarter and a 31-yarder late in the game that sealed the victory.
Rant: The Packers, who entered the game as one of the NFL leaders in sacks, didn’t get to Christian Ponder once.
Rave: On his birthday, Aaron Rodgers decided to spread the wealth. He threw to seven receivers in the first quarter alone and completed 10 of 12 passes. Although his passer rating was “only” 98.0 for the game, Rodgers completed 77 percent of his passes (27 of 35) to nine players.
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