Green Bay Packers defenders A.J. Hawk (50) and Mike Neal (96) converge on running back Adrian Peterson (28) in the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings during Sunday night's game at the Metrodome. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media
This was an important victory for Green Bay in the NFC North Division race, especially since Detroit’s remarkable comeback victory against Dallas on Sunday has them feeling good at 5-3 going into a bye week. But the Packers at 5-2 maintained a half-game lead and added to their winning streak. The Bears stand at 4-3 after their bye Sunday and are looking at two straight division games, including at Green Bay next Monday.
A.J. Hawk is playing perhaps the best stretch of football in his professional career. On Sunday, he had five tackles and helped hold Adrian Peterson to a pedestrian 60 yards on 13 carries. Hawk always has been an assignment-sure but unspectacular linebacker. This season, however, he’s appears more explosive and a suddenly reliable tackler.
The Packers were bitten by two costly penalties that kept alive a pair of scoring drives for the Vikings near the end of the first half. The first came when rookie defensive lineman Datone Jones picked up an unnecessary roughness penalty after the Packers held Minnesota’s offense on third down. The drive culminated in a Minnesota field goal. The second was questionable as Tramon Williams was flagged for pass interference in single coverage against former Packers receiver Greg Jennings. Williams didn’t appear to hold him, but it cost the Packers 26 yards and led to a Peterson 8-yard touchdown run two plays later.
By the numbers
40:54 — The Packers’ time of possession in the 60-minute game. The Vikings held the ball for only 19:06.
.778 — Winning percentage for Packers (21-6) in Sunday night games, No. 1 in NFL history.
85 — Career victories (including playoffs) for coach Mike McCarthy, which moved him past Mike Holmgren into third place in Packers history.
228 — Cordarrelle Patterson’s kickoff-return yardage on five returns.
The Packers’ first drives in both halves. In the first half, Green Bay’s offense first saw the field after Patterson’s 109-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Johnathan Franklin’s ill-advised return of the ensuing kickoff out of the end zone to the 10-yard line. Ninety yards and 7 minutes, 22 seconds later, the Packers answered. Then, after the Vikings had gained back some of the momentum after a first half-ending scoring drive, Green Bay answered with a 15-play, 80-yard scoring drive to open the second half and grab a 31-17 lead. That essentially put the game away.
Did you notice?
• With 464 yards of total offense, the Packers have accumulated at least 350 yards in every game this season and 10 straight going back to last season.
• With Eddie Lacy’s 94 yards, the Packers have had a running back rush for 80 yards or more in each of the past six games.
• Micah Hyde’s 93-yard punt return for a touchdown was the fourth-longest in team history.
• With 14 points, Mason Crosby moved into No. 2 in on the Packers’ all-time scoring list with 836, passing Don Hutson. Ryan Longwell leads with 1,054.
• Patterson’s 109-yard kickoff return tied an NFL record. Antonio Cromartie returned a missed field goal 109 yards in 2007, also in the Metrodome.
• The Vikings’ defense entered the game allowing third-down conversions at a 46 percent pace, second-worst in the league. On Sunday, it allowed the Packers to convert 13 of 18 (72 percent) and 2 of 2 on fourth downs.