By Andrew Kahn
It was another Thursday night blowout, as the Packers dominated the Vikings 42-10 last night in Green Bay. The Packers moved to 3-2, while Minnesota is 2-3, struggling on offense without Teddy Bridgewater, who was inactive with a sprained ankle. Christian Ponder was out of sync from the start and turnovers turned a comfortable win into a laugher.
Packers hitting stride?
For the first time in this young NFL season, the Packers have a winning streak. While a home win against Minnesota is not the sure sign of a Super Bowl contender, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense have now had two great games in a row. The next few games aren’t easy—at Miami, Carolina, at New Orleans—but the Pack are looking like the playoff team almost all expected them to be at the start of the season.
It’s hard to point to any one aspect of a game that was so lopsided and claim it was the difference, but Minnesota was down 14-0 when it turned it over for the first time. Julius Peppers picked off a deflected pass and ran it back for a touchdown. He then performed his first ever Lambeau Leap (I’ll give it a C+). Ponder’s next pass attempt was also intercepted, and it set up a short touchdown drive for Green Bay that culminated in Davante Adams’ first NFL score, giving him the chance for his first jump into the stands. Minnesota made it three straight possessions with a turnover when running back Matt Asiata fumbled. By then it was 28-0 Packers. Matt Flynn threw a meaningless interception in the fourth for Green Bay.
Left to Ponder
Again, I’m not saying a healthy Bridgewater makes a difference here. Turnovers were a concern for Minnesota no matter who was the quarterback. But Minnesota fans had to be bummed that the rookie, who flashed so much promise in Sunday’s win, couldn’t play. They’ve seen Ponder before, and he’s just not starter material. He was under pressure all night (sacked six times), but that alone doesn’t excuse his performance. The good news is that Bridgewater was very close to healed—Minnesota said he would have played if the game was Sunday. Instead, he’ll be expected to start against Detroit on Oct. 12.
Never doubt Nelson
Jordy Nelson leads the NFL in receptions and receiving yards and is behind only four players in touchdowns. He caught only one pass last night, but it was a 66-yard touchdown pass in which he turned a defender around and had plenty of separation as Rodgers’ pass descended into his arms. Nelson burst onto the scene in 2011 with 15 touchdowns, then regressed a bit, numbers-wise, in 2012. But he’s building on a strong 2013 through five games this season, proving he is Rodgers’ favorite deep threat.
Maybe next week
Green Bay’s win continues a theme of Thursday night beatdowns. Not one of the five games has been closer than 20 points and the combined differential is 205-60. Minnesota’s performance on Sunday provided hope this one could be competitive, but Bridgewater sitting didn’t help. The Colts visit Houston next Thursday, which should be close.
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local who also writes for Newsday and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about the NFL and other sports at AndrewJKahn.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn
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