Packer fans shuffled into Lambeau or turned on their TV’s hoping the Green and Gold’s Christmas day win against Philadelphia would extend into 2023. Turned out New Year is even better than Christmas for Green Bay devotees. The Packer faithful would have been happy with a one point victory against the twelve win Vikings. The Packers wanted more, and they produced. Call it an old fashion whipping. A beat down. All the synonyms fit snugly to this win as the Packers produced their most dominant performance of the year, crushing the hopes of the humbled Vikings.
It started with the defense. A defense that has been maligned since the first quarter of the opening game played their best Sunday. Jaire Alexander started the conversation pre-game, calling Justin Jefferson’s big stats from their first encounter, “a fluke”. Alexander and the rest of the secondary backed up his big talk, shutting out Jefferson in the first half and rendering his game stats inconsequential. Jefferson ended Sunday’s game with one catch for 15 yards.
Adam Thielen had one for 16. On the sideline Jefferson was a helmet tossing picture of frustration. On the TV replay, he was being manhandled at the line of scrimmage by Alexander repeatedly. The Packer defense had three interceptions, including a pick six by Darnell Savage that started the breakout scoring. Even the one Packer mistake, a blocked punt, turned into a defensive statement when the Green Bay defense stoned the Vikings near the goal line, forcing a field goal by Minnesota.
The Packers looked at that field goal, putting them down 3-0 in the first quarter, and answered by rattling off 41 straight unanswered points. The first Packer score blew the roof off of the Lambeau Atrium. Keisean Nixon was nursing a sore groin from Christmas’ long return, but he did not let that slow him down. Nixon grabbed the kickoff on the play after the Viking’s field goal and danced up the middle, bouncing off Viking kicker Greg Joseph’s tackle attempt and, as Forrest Gump once said, “just kept running.” The 105 yard touchdown return sparked a Packer team that dominated from that play forward.
The Packers then got the pick-six from Savage and in a blink of an eye, the Packers were up 14-0 without tallying a first down. On a day when Aaron Rodgers and the offense struggled in the first half, the offense still scored 27 points with Rodgers throwing and running for touchdowns. The Packers put 41 on the scoreboard and shut out the Vikings for almost three quarters.
105 YARDS TO THE HOUSE!
Green Bay was helped out by Minnesota offensive line injuries that thwarted any consistency in their running game and repeatedly stalled drives with delay of game and false start penalties. But the story of this day was big plays by the home team defense. Four forced turnovers, including a big strip and recovery by Kenny Clark. That play by Clark killed a potential scoring drive in the third quarter, that led to a Packer touchdown drive capped off by A.J. Dillon. Aaron Jones (111 yards/7.9 average) and Allen Lazard (5 catches/59 yards) kept scoring drives going and Mason Crosby highlighted a perfect day with a 56 yard field goal that bounced over the crossbar to end the second quarter.
The Packers left the field for halftime up 27-3. They led after three quarters with the same score, but they had kept the ball from the 7:06 mark of the third quarter and finished the game off with a touchdown dagger on the first play in the 4th quarter. That final play, a Dillon bulldoze into the end zone, wiped out any huge comeback thoughts of Viking fans. The Packers then picked off Kirk Cousins for the hat trick and kept the ball for over 5 minutes, ending with Rodger’s dance into the end zone. A true statement game when they needed it against a playoff bound team.
The Packers now need one more win to pull out an incredible run to the playoffs. Detroit must come to Lambeau for a final game showdown. Go Pack Go!