2021 Week 17 - That's What Cheese Said

Hear from the head coach and key players following Green Bay's dominant win over the Minnesota Vikings. 

The Green Bay Packers clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC after beating the Vikings 37-10 on Sunday Night Football. That moved their season record to 13-3 and ensured the path to the playoffs winds through the Frozen Tundra. 

“[I] thought it was our most complete game in all three phases, and that’s what we need moving forward,” said Head Coach Matt LaFleur post-game. His 39-9 record in the regular season makes him the winningest coach through three seasons in NFL history, eclipsing the previous high of 38 wins set by George Seifert. The Packers also became the first team in NFL history to win 13 games in three straight seasons. 

It was another historic outing for Davante Adams, too, who had 11 catches against the Vikings, bringing his season total to 117 receptions and surpassing the franchise mark of 115 he set in 2020. 

Adams had 136 yards and a score on Sunday Night Football which gave him 1,498 yards on the season. That set a new career-best for the five-time Pro Bowl receiver and puts him just 22 yards away from the franchise record 1,519 yards set by Jordy Nelson. 

Even despite clinching the No. 1 seed and the first-round bye, LaFleur indicated that he expects his starters to at least play a little bit. Both Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers echoed their desire to take some reps against Detroit in Week 18. 

“It’s special and I definitely don’t take it for granted. I enjoy every moment out here with these guys,” Adams said of his records and playing with likely four-time MVP Rodgers. He also mentioned the support he gets from the entire team, not just as teammates but the way they help challenge him in practice each week to prepare him for games. 

That possible four-time MVP had himself another impressive outing on Sunday, throwing for 288 yards and two touchdowns for a rating of 114.8. After a two-interception performance in Week 1, Rodgers has since thrown 35 touchdowns and only two picks. What’s possibly even more crazy is that in his last two seasons against the NFC North, Rodgers has thrown 36 touchdowns and zero interceptions. 

“I like the vibe of this team. We’ve had a lot of key players not play for us, and I really feel like there’s a possibility to get a few of those guys back for this stretch run, and that’s exciting,” said Rodgers, confirming that Randall Cobb will for sure be back, but he also thinks Za’Darius Smith, David Bakhtiari, Jaire Alexander, and Josh Myers all have realistic shots at returning for the postseason. 

Looking beyond the stardom of Rodgers and Adams and the players who might return for the playoffs, there’s also a dynamic tandem in Green Bay’s backfield. Aaron Jones had eight rushes for 76 yards, including runs of both 27 and 28 yards. AJ Dillon added 63 yards on 14 attempts with two touchdowns, and the duo combined for another 50 receiving yards. Both backs have eclipsed 1,000 yards from scrimmage on the season, which has only been done three other times in Packers history, and not since 1980. 

“It’s really cool to do that with somebody I’m so close with,” said Dillon after the game, adding that it was something the duo discussed before the season started. “He’s like a big brother to me. He’s helped me so tremendously develop my game. I’m still obviously working but to do that and do that with him in tandem is a really important accomplishment for myself, just that we’re together on it.”

Defensively, the Packers held the Vikings to only 10 points, including only three points in the first half. Minnesota went 2-of-12 on third downs and didn’t cross the Green Bay 30-yard line until almost the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach. 

“I thought our defense’s effort was outstanding. Did a great job on third down. That’s kind of been an achilles heel for us throughout the course of the season,” said LaFleur. 

“We wanted to come out and bounce back,” safety Adrian Amos echoed of the defense’s performance against the Vikings after a less than stellar performance against the Cleveland Browns on Christmas. 

After letting Browns running back Nick Chubb rush for 124 yards only a week ago, the Packers held the explosive Dalvin Cook to only 13 yards on nine attempts, giving him an average of 1.4 yards per carry. His longest run of the night was six yards. Edge rushers Preston Smith and Rashan Gary each had one of Green Bay’s two sacks on the night, bringing their season sack totals to 9 and 9.5, respectively. 

Even special teams put together arguably its best performance of the season. Mason Crosby went three-for-three on field goals and newly-added return man David Moore had the longest punt return of the season for the Packers of 21 yards. 

“I think that was the goal going into this, to play a complete game in all three phases for four quarters, and I thought our guys took care of that,” said LaFleur. 

Green Bay will play one more regular season game against the Lions next Sunday before a well-earned bye week during Wild Card Weekend. Then they’ll host a Divisional Round playoff game for the third time under LaFleur. Unlike last season, though, Lambeau Field should be full for this game. 

“We know how important it is to have teams have to come through Lambeau,” said Dillon. “I say it all the time. We’ve got the best fans in football. We also have the elements, as you saw tonight. So combine those two with all the talent and the team and the staff that we’ve got, and it’s going to be tough sledding for anybody.”

The Packers are the only team in the NFL to be undefeated at home this season. “You want to win all your games at home,” said Smith. “It means a lot to come in here and play in front of this fanbase and this stadium, this historic stadium. We just have to make sure when we get out here in front of our fans that we give them what they deserve and that’s a win.”

This is a Packers team that knows what’s at stake, whether players have been through multiple NFC Championship Game appearances or are entering the playoffs for the first time. After wrapping up the regular season next week, only two home games will stand between the Packers and the Super Bowl. 

“We had a chance last year and we didn’t finish it. How often do you get a second chance at that? How often do you give yourself this opportunity?” asked Amos. “It's a tribute to the whole team, for us grinding away. We earned that first seed. Now we have to take advantage of it.”

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

8 points

Comments (11)

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mnbadger's picture

January 04, 2022 at 12:23 pm

Beautiful and thorough summary Maggie. Thank you. On to Detroit! GPG!

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x24's picture

January 04, 2022 at 12:24 pm

“It means a lot to come in here and play in front of this fanbase and this stadium, this historic stadium..."

Now it's time for the Green Bay faithfully to step up their game. Focus on the game! No more chanting when the Pack is on offense. Save the noise for our defense. The Packers have a reputation for knowledgeable fans- it's time live up to the rep

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Ya_tittle's picture

January 04, 2022 at 01:04 pm

EXACTLY! And NEVER shut up when we're on D!

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

January 04, 2022 at 01:28 pm

Nice article Maggie with What The Cheese Said.

Did I hear a whisper that the Cheese said he was hungry? I think so and the Cheese is ready for a delicious "Lion Sandwich" Sunday.

Happy New Year and thanks for all your interesting articles throughout the year.

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Spock's picture

January 04, 2022 at 01:32 pm

"...it’s going to be tough sledding for anybody.” Should be easy -Oh, wait- I thought Matt was talking about the sledding hill in TitleTown. :) Seriously, though, if this team has finally found a returner and Crosby has his mojo back, the special teams and D look like they are peaking at just the right time!

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canadapacker's picture

January 04, 2022 at 03:03 pm

I wouldnt be overly optimistic about our run defence because we shut down Cook. If you put everybody in the box because a rookie QB with no practice time - you had better shut them down. I think that the Vikes were less than motivated and really didnt give us much of a fight neither on the OLine nor the Dline. But I was really happy with Crosby's kickoffs sailing into the end zone. Even when the Minnie guys were told to bring it out - one was fumbled and a touch back and the other he started 5 yards deep, In cold weather pumping it that deep is what we need as that part of special teams is really a weak spot. I hope that we get Bak back - and that AR and the rest of the O plays like they used to in preseason - either the first half or at least 3 possessions. I think sometimes starters can get hurt when the substitutes are not totally familiar. For us we have had so many injuries that just about all of our 2nd and 3rd stringers have seen meaningful game action - so the Detroit game should be a good tuneup for everyone - especially for the bottom tier receivers because one never knows who is going to test positive just before game day.

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Qoojo's picture

January 04, 2022 at 04:11 pm

Plus, Cook didn't look right. He looked tentative or kind of injured, maybe even bored.

I agree. MN didn't look very motivated.

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Johnblood27's picture

January 04, 2022 at 07:23 pm

Mannion is a 3rd year player, he is no rookie.

Crosbys kickoffs were a revelation in that weather, I was surprised to say the least.

Unfamiliar back-ups can be problematic. Turners knee injury was at least a paRTIAL RESULT OF A NEWLY INSERTED yOSH NIJMAN MISSED BLOCK ON AN INSIDE MOVE BY THE dl LEADING TO A HARD CHARGE DOWN THE LINE BEHIND THE GUARDS AND CENTER AND ENDING IN THE BACK OF tURNERS LEGS.

damn this caps key!!! Im not gonna retype that.

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LeotisHarris's picture

January 04, 2022 at 09:32 pm

No worries, JB. It's not uncommon for an intermittent all-caps lock to occur after a newly inserted Yosh Nijman. Happens to the best of us.

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jont's picture

January 04, 2022 at 06:02 pm

"MN didn't look very motivated."

True.

Underdogs to begin with, when Thielen and Cousins went out they knew the writing was on the wall. And after Philly won earlier, they knew their playoff hopes were basically gone so not much to play for. And as the game went on and the temperature fell and fell, the Vikes were standing there wondering if it is some kind of crime in Wisconsin to put a dome over a stadium. "Let's just get the hell outta here."

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Grandfathered's picture

January 04, 2022 at 08:33 pm

Amos had the best quote: "We earned that first seed. Now we have to take advantage of it.”

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