MINNEAPOLIS – There’s a common refrain around Lambeau Field that as long as the quarterback and cornerbacks play well, the team will follow suit.
On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers tried to win a road game against their divisional rival with reserves in both spots. And they might have to finish their season with a backup quarterback.
Aaron Rodgers left Sunday’s game with an injury to his right, throwing shoulder in the first quarter. He was diagnosed with a broken collarbone, and a team spokesman said he “might” miss the rest of the season.
The Packers were already without their top two cornerbacks, Kevin King (concussion) and Davon House (quad). Given critical injuries at their two most important positions, the Packers' 23-10 loss against the Minnesota Vikings was predictable.
The loss dropped the Packers to 4-2 on the season. They’ll return to Lambeau Field next week for a game against the New Orleans Saints before entering their bye week. Their two-time MVP quarterback won’t return until much later.
SILVERSTEIN: Hundley, rest of offense will have to share burden
DOUGHERTY: Unless Rodgers returns, Packers' season over
Here are five takeaways from the game:
Rodgers could miss the rest of season: After releasing a pass to tight end Martellus Bennett, Rodgers was driven to the ground when Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr hit him in the left shoulder. Rodgers fell hard on his right arm, and was delayed getting off the field. He was carted to the locker room after briefly being evaluated in the sideline medical tent. Barr was not penalized on the play. Rodgers was in the midst of the Packers' second offensive series, following an initial three-and-out. He finished 2-of-4 with 18 yards and a 62.5 rating. Rodgers returned to the sideline in the second half. When he’ll return to the field, nobody knows.
Hundley handed the keys: With Rodgers potentially missing the rest of the season, this is Brett Hundley’s offense. Perhaps no one was more surprised to find Hundley suddenly in the game in the first quarter than him. The third-year quarterback hasn’t played meaningful snaps since the Packers drafted him in the fifth round in 2015. Hundley had a rocky start. After three straight runs, Hundley’s first pass came on third-and-2 from the Packers’ 26-yard line. It was deflected, and cornerback Xavier Rhodes intercepted it, giving the Vikings a short field. Not the way Hundley envisioned his first pass as the Packers top quarterback. He settled down after that, but it wasn’t enough. Hundley finished 18-for-33 for 157 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions for a 39.6 passer rating. Now, he’ll step into a role where he’s getting the bulk of practice reps, and preparing each week to be the starting quarterback.
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BOX SCORE: Vikings 23, Packers 10
Run game lacking life: One of the warts Rodgers’ absence could expose is the Packers’ lack of a dominant run game. The Packers' offensive line is built with athletes who can hold up in pass protection. Even right guard Jahri Evans, a free-agent addition this offseason, was signed mostly for what he can do as a pass blocker. Coach Mike McCarthy emphasized the pass game on both sides of the ball all through the spring. While a large dose of preseason snaps should help Hundley now, the limited chances their trio of rookie running backs got in August might haunt them. The Packers clearly tried to support Hundley with a run game Sunday, but they couldn’t muster production. Rookie Aaron Jones was the Packers’ leading rusher with 13 carries for 41 yards, and Ty Montgomery returned from broken ribs to add 10 carries for 28 yards. In all, the Packers rushed for just 72 yards on 24 carries, an average of 3.0 yards per carry.
Defense creates turnovers, not enough: The Packers’ 10 points, all coming in the first half, were a touchdown and field goal set up by short fields. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews recovered a Jerick McKinnon fumble and returned it 63 yards to the Vikings’ 18-yard line. Matthews might have scored if not for Vikings receiver Laquon Treadwell’s hustle, jarring the football out of bounds from behind, but the Packers scored a touchdown three plays later when Hundley found receiver Davante Adams open from 18 yards out. Later in the second quarter, cornerback Damarious Randall intercepted a deflected pass from Vikings quarterback Case Keenum and returned it 14 yards to the Vikings’ 38-yard line. It was Randall’s second interception off a deflection in as many weeks. However, without King or House, the defense also allowed Vikings receiver Adam Thielen to catch nine passes for 97 yards, part of the Vikings’ 352 total yards.
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MONDAY CHAT: Ryan Wood at 1 p.m.
NAGLER: Post-game chat video
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Injuries mounting: Rodgers wasn’t the only Packers player to leave with injury. Lane Taylor got rolled up underneath Hundley and left with a knee and ankle injury. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (concussion) and left tackle David Bakhtiari (hamstring) also left the game. On defense, cornerback Quinten Rollins left with an ankle injury.