Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews recovers a fumble after hitting Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joe Webb and knocking the ball loose during Saturday night's NFC wild card playoff game at Lambeau Field. William Glasheen/Gannett Wisconsin Media
Rants and raves from Saturday night's NFC wild-card playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. The Packers won 24-10.
• Rave: Clay Matthews produced a vaunted “triple play” when he sacked Joe Webb, forced a fumble and recovered the loose ball all in the same motion. It came on fourth-and-3 from the Packers’ 38 late in the third quarter with the Packers leading by three touchdowns and was the final nail in the Vikings’ coffin. Matthews also had a cheap sack in the second quarter when he was on the ground and Webb tripped over him.
• Rant: Vikings receiver Michael Jenkins was left wide open on a 50-yard touchdown pass with 3:39 remaining in the game, which pulled the Vikings within 24-10. It was a shocking blown assignment that has been rare this season for the Packers’ pass defense.
• Rave: A blitzing Erik Walden forced Webb to throw up a wounded duck incompletion on third-and-2 from the Packers’ 48 in the first quarter, which resulted in a Minnesota punt. Walden sacked Webb for a 7-yard loss on third down late in the first half to force another punt.
• Rant: The Vikings committed an inexcusable blunder when they had 12 men on the field as Mason Crosby lined up to kick a 33-yard field goal early in the third quarter. The 5-yard penalty handed the Packers a first-and-goal at the 9, and they scored a touchdown on the next play to take a 24-3 lead.
• Rave: Mike McCarthy continued his trend toward gutsy fourth-down decisions when he went for it from the Vikings’ 34 in the second quarter. It paid off when Aaron Rodgers completed a 32-yard pass to Greg Jennings.
• Rant: Rodgers held the ball too long early in the second quarter, didn’t react quickly enough in the pocket when he had a chance to throw it away and allowed an 8-yard sack by Jared Allen. One play later the Packers were forced to punt.
• Rave: The Packers couldn’t have asked for a cleaner game. They committed no turnovers and just two penalties for 10 yards.
• Rant: After driving for a touchdown on the first possession of the second half, the Packers’ offense pretty much shut it down for the rest of the game despite opportunities to add to their sizable lead. The offense will need to play a full 60 minutes against a rugged 49ers defense next week in the divisional round of the playoffs.
• Rave: DuJuan Harris was ruled down at the 1-yard line late in the first quarter, but McCarthy wisely challenged the call and upon review, the Packers were awarded a touchdown. Replays showed Harris crossed the plane of the goal line with the football before his knee was down.
• Rant: Harris dropped what would have been a first-down catch on the Packers’ opening series even though no defender was near him. The result was a three-and-out by the offense and a punt.
• Rave: On third-and-2 from the Packers’ 26 in the first quarter, Ryan Grant ran up the middle for only 1 yard, but the Packers received a huge break when Kevin Williams was hit with an offside penalty. Instead of having to punt, the Packers were gift-wrapped a first down and went on to drive 82 yards for a touchdown.
• Rant: The Packers’ decision to defer after winning the coin flip backfired when the Vikings took the ball and drove 53 yards in 10 plays and converted a 33-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead. It was presumed the Packers wanted to get off to a fast start, but the game started exactly like last week’s regular-season finale, when the Vikings kicked an early field goal.