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Mike Vandermause column: Metrodome again was Rodgers' house

Oct. 27, 2013
 

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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, left, plays around with long snapper Brett Goode after Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media

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MINNEAPOLIS — It hardly seems fair.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers facing off against the Minnesota Vikings defense Sunday night at the Metrodome was a mismatch for the ages.

Rodgers kicked down the door to the Vikings’ house and then proceeded to trash the place in the Packers’ 44-31 victory.

Make no mistake, this was a total team effort and Rodgers received plenty of help. But he was the trigger man to this devastating offensive display, and Rodgers made a strong case on national television for being the best quarterback in the NFL.

“I think he is,” Packers fullback John Kuhn said. “He’s got the arm strength. He’s got the mental game to him and he’s got a leadership attitude that guys want to follow and want to be a part of.”

Rodgers beat the Vikings defense like a drum, with pinpoint passing, well-timed scrambles, quick thinking and a complete command of the offense.

It was fitting that in the Packers’ final appearance at the Metrodome, which will be bulldozed to make way for a new stadium, Rodgers was at his best.

He essentially owns the building, based on how he has played in it over the years.

“I don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason other than when you’re playing in a tough environment, it’s loud … your focus and your preparation needs to be very high,” said Rodgers. “I’d like to think mine was pretty high today.”

The Metrodome is supposed to be a hostile environment for visiting quarterbacks, but when Rodgers enters the premises, he looks as if he’s found his second home.

In five appearances at the Metrodome before Sunday, Rodgers completed 70.1 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns, just one interception and a phenomenal 123.2 passer rating.

It didn’t seem possible, but Rodgers proceeded to take those impressive numbers to a higher level on Sunday, when he completed 24 of 29 passes (82.8 percent) for 285 yards and a passer rating of 130.6.

“I’m going to miss it,” Rodgers said of the Metrodome.

What’s most impressive is Rodgers did the damage without three of his best pass catchers — the injured Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley.

Instead, he dished the ball to relative unknowns Jarrett Boykin, Myles White and Andrew Quarless, in addition to old reliable Jordy Nelson. Rodgers also took advantage of the Packers’ revitalized ground game featuring Eddie Lacy and James Starks to keep the Vikings on their heels.

The Vikings defense simply had no answer for Rodgers or the Packers offense, which produced touchdowns on five of its first six possessions. The impressive, time-consuming drives went for 90, 70, 80, 80 and 74 yards and sent dejected Vikings fans scurrying for the exits late in the third quarter.

“He played a phenomenal game,” Kuhn said of Rodgers.

“He can call a game, he can make adjustments probably as good if not better than any other quarterback in the league.”

Few if any NFL quarterbacks could have thrown the pair of touchdown passes Rodgers did to Nelson in the first half. Both times Nelson was covered like a blanket, but Rodgers delivered perfect passes.

The Packers made good on an astounding 15 of 20 third- and fourth-down conversions, largely because Rodgers read the Vikings defense like a book and knew exactly what to do.

Rodgers scrambled for first downs, rolled out and completed passes on the run, picked up blitzes and delivered quick strikes that couldn’t be defended.

It was painfully obvious to Minnesota fans that the difference between Rodgers and Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was astronomical, and their frustrated response was to boo Ponder loudly in the second half.

They seem to know that as long as Rodgers is guiding the Packers, the Vikings will get stuck with the short end of the stick in this rivalry.

mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

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