Insider: Thumbs up to Lacy playing through illness
THE BIG PICTURE
This was a grind-it-out win on the road against a division rival — never an easy task no matter the difference in talent level. The victory, coupled with Detroit's 34-9 loss to New England, puts Green Bay alone atop the NFC North Division standings at 8-3.
The Packers are on a roll, winning seven of their past eight games, just in time for the Patriots to visit Sunday. That game will go a long way in determining how good the Packers really are.
Eddie Lacy, who apparently played the entire game with an undisclosed illness, may have put together his most impressive performance of the season.
His 25 rushing attempts were eight more than his previous high number of carries this season. He ran for a season-high 125 yards (at 5.0 yards per carry), caught two passes for 13 more yards and scored twice.
Most impressive was that when the Packers needed to run out the clock with 3:23 left in the game, Lacy ran for 3, 5, 4, 5 and 10 yards to put it away.
The Packers were called for eight penalties and each unit contributed. There were four particularly costly flags — the first was when Micah Hyde's defensive holding penalty wiped out a Morgan Burnett interception, while three others happened on one Green Bay possession.
Holding a 14-10 third-quarter lead, the Packers drove from their 16 to their 43 and appeared to have put their offensive struggles behind. But after David Bakhtiari's holding penalty pushed them back to their 33, Davante Adams' illegal block above the waist essentially wasted a 24-yard catch-and-run by Lacy.
Instead of having the ball at the Vikings' 43-yard line, the Packers faced first-and-27 at their 26. When they eventually were forced to punt, rookie Demetri Goodson ran into the punt returner to give Minnesota the ball at midfield.
Playing for the first time on TCF Bank Stadium's artificial turf, the Packers had trouble putting away a lesser opponent. After three quarters, Green Bay had struggled to a 17-13 lead and took possession at its 13-yard line to start the fourth quarter.
Twice on the drive, the Packers faced third downs and the possibility of having to punt the ball back to the Vikings. On the first, third-and-1 at their 29, Aaron Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson on an 11-yard pass play.
But two plays later, the Packers were looking at third-and-6 at their 44. That's when Rodgers made the play of the game, with his feet. His 18-yard scramble got the first down, led to a touchdown four plays later and gave Green Bay a comfortable lead.
DID YOU NOTICE?
- The win makes Mike McCarthy 90-48-1 during the regular season as the Packers' head coach. He passes Vince Lombardi for second most wins in franchise history behind Curly Lambeau's 209.
- The Packers didn't score on at least one of their first two possessions for the first time since Sept. 21 at Detroit, where they failed to score on their first three possessions. They entered the game having scored on their opening drive in six of the past seven games and in each of the past five.
- Green Bay's 87-yard touchdown drive to open the fourth quarter was its fourth-longest of the season.
- The Packers' defense held the opposing starting quarterback to a passer rating below 85.0 for the ninth time in 11 games. Teddy Bridgewater's QB rating was 79.8.
- The loud "Go, Pack, go" chants started to pick up steam in the fourth quarter and reached a crescendo as the game ended.
RANTS AND RAVES
RAVE: After being forced to punt on their first two possessions, the Packers faced a third-and-10 from their 46 near the end of the first quarter. One more failed drive and panic might have set in. But Aaron Rodgers threw a laser over the middle to Randall Cobb that was just out of the reach of Minnesota cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. It was a 29-yard play that led to the Packers' first touchdown.
RANT: Mike McCarthy made a questionable call when he decided to decline a penalty during the Vikings' first possession of the second quarter. On third-and-10 from the Green Bay 44, Teddy Bridgewater scrambled for 5 yards but the Vikings were called for an illegal-motion penalty. Instead of taking the penalty and forcing Minnesota into a third-and-15 from the Green Bay 49, the Packers declined. That put the Vikings at the Green Bay 39 facing fourth-and-5, almost forcing the Vikings to go for it. They did and converted when Micah Hyde's defensive holding call wiped out a Morgan Burnett interception and gave Minnesota a first down. The Vikings scored five plays later.
RAVE: Rodgers made another throw maybe only he can make. On first-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the second quarter, Rodgers rolled right, almost to the number on the right side of the field, then turned and threw left against his body to a wide-open Richard Rodgers in the left corner of the end zone. It was the rookie tight end's first career touchdown and gave the Packers a 14-7 lead.
RANT: The Packers' defense looked confused near the end of the game when the Vikings scored and made the two-point conversion. On both plays, Minnesota ran a drag route with the slot receiver on the right side running against the flow of the play to the left. Both times, the receiver — former Packers Greg Jennings on the TD and Charles Johnson on the conversion — was wide open after the secondary blew coverage.