Game Recap: Packers beat Vikings 23-10, Win NFC North

“You like that?!?”

Why yes, yes, I do Kirk Cousins. The Green Bay Packers (12-3, 5-0 NFC North) are NFC North Champions after topping the Minnesota Vikings (10-5, 2-3 NFC North) 23-10 on Monday night football at U.S. Bank Stadium. Once again, it was not the prettiest performance, but Green Bay was able to fight back yet another week to get another win.  

“We’ve got a resilient group,” coach Matt LaFleur said at his post-game press conference. “It’s a credit to that locker room. Couldn’t be happier to be their coach.”

The entire night was not all sunshine and rainbows though. The offense, who had been on fire on their opening drives this season, started off in horrific fashion Monday night. Running back Aaron Jones fumbled after a big hit from Vikings’ linebacker Anthony Barr and linebacker Eric Kendricks was there to pick it up for Minnesota on just the third play of the game. Luckily, the Packers’ red zone defense came up huge and was able to hold the Vikings on their own 10 to force just a field goal. In what was nearly a catastrophic start, the Packers defense was able to hold the Vikings to just a 3-0 lead. The defense making key stops was a key theme from Monday night and their performance throughout the game was stellar.

They held the Vikings again on their next drive, giving the Packers’ offense a chance to answer. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and company gladly took advantage, with wide receiver Allen Lazard starting things off with a nice move past Vikings cornerback Mike Hughes (UCF legend) for a 15-yard pickup. Then WR1, Davante Adams, joined in on the fun with a 11-yard reception to put the Packers in field goal range. Green Bay was unable to find the endzone, but kicker Mason Crosby was able to hit one home from 42-yards out to tie the game at 3 at .

The offense continued to put this Packers team in sticky situations throughout the first half. Rodgers, who’s short pass was intended for Adams, completely missed his mark, throwing a near perfect pass… to Minnesota for just his third interception of the season. The Vikings were able to take advantage and quarterback Kirk Cousins found wide receiver Stefon Diggs for a 21-yard touchdown to put them up 10-3 over the Packers just three plays later.

Green Bay came close to getting in the endzone themselves on the next drive, but Rodgers was unable to connect with Adams in the endzone. The Packers turned to Crosby once more and he was able to hit one from 33-yards out this time to cut the Vikings’ lead to 10-6.

On the next drive, Packers linebacker Za’Darius Smith came off hustling from the edge to sack Cousins for a 13-yard loss. The Vikings were forced to punt but got the ball back quickly after Adams fumbled for the Packers’ third turnover of the night. Luckily, Minnesota’s attempt at the Philly special was unsuccessful and after going for it on fourth down, turned the ball over on downs.

The Packers had a chance to make something of their last first half possession, but still could not find the endzone. They got the ball back at their own 45 with 55 seconds left. They marched their way down to the Vikings 1-yard line, but again Rodgers had trouble getting a clean throw off to Davante. The Packers settled for a field goal as time expired to cut the score to 10-9 heading into the half. Despite having three turnovers, the Packers only trailed by 1 halfway through Monday.

To open the second half, the Packers defense continued to look sharp, forcing a 3 and out for the Vikings. Minnesota’s defense continued to hold, and Green Bay was still unable to find something on offense. Smith continued to be a terror for the Vikings’ front and sacked Cousins yet again. Then, after blown coverage on 3rd and 18 blown to Diggs, Packers corner Kevin King quickly came to the rescue. King picked off Cousins deep pass at Green Bay’s 8 and was able to return it for 39-yards, just as the Vikings were starting to gain momentum.

The turnover was huge, in fact, it was the turning point of the game. It was the spark the Packers needed to come alive offensively and my oh my did they wake up fast. The Packers were able to finally find a rhythm on offense and they danced their way into the endzone after Jones ran it in for 12-yards. Green Bay was hungry for an encore though, going for the two-point conversion and successfully getting it after wide receiver Geronimo Allison came up with a clutch catch to make it 17-10 the good guys.

On the next defensive drive, Kenny Clark continued his impressive showing this December with a monstrous sack for a loss of 6 yards. After failing to convert on 3rd down, the Vikings were forced to punt, and the Packers offensive rhythm continued to roll. Aaron LaRae Jones put the team on his back and without hesitation took it 56-yards TO. THE. HOUSE. Crosby missed the PAT, so the Packers would go up 23-10 with 5:51 left to play and the NFC North on the line. It was enough, and the Green Bay Packers are your 2019 NFC North Champions.

 

What we learned: Bend don’t break; it's our mantra 

Bend don’t break. It’s been the mantra for this team all season and Monday night was no different. There were certainly moments that were scary for the Packers, but they still held on just as they have all season long.

Rodgers struggled a bit throughout the night, but thanks to that defense he has loved since week one in Chicago, Green Bay is able to hang on and win games like this in 2019.

“We got a defense” has never rang truer all season than it did on Monday night.

What went right: Defense

After several offense mishaps, the Packers really had no business still being in a close game with the Vikings. Thanks to their defense though, it was quite the opposite. The defense won the Packers that game. It is as simple as that.

Kudos to Mike Pettine for having such a fantastic game plan heading into this one. I loved the intensity from Green Bay’s defense all night long and they held the Vikings to just 7 first downs, the first time this has happened in a home game for the Vikings since 1971, per the ESPN broadcast.

What went wrong:  Turnovers

Who is the last team you want to lose to this late in the season? Yourself. The Packers really kicked themselves for the majority of Monday night and turnovers were center stage of their struggles. Rodgers, Adams and Jones all turned the ball over JUST in the first half Monday. If the Packers want to make a long stay in the post season, they cannot afford for their three biggest playmakers to all turn the ball over. That just simply cannot happen.

Offensive Standouts: Allen Lazard and Aaron Jones

He’s here… and he’s perfect. Ladies and gentlemen if you didn’t believe it before please believe it now: Allen Lazard is WR2. In a game where we knew Davante Adams would be consistently covered, Lazard was able to be an answer for Green Bay.

Lazard had 5 receptions for 45 yards (per ESPN) and a handful of first down conversions for Green Bay.

Aaron Jones surely made up for his first quarter fumble late in Monday night’s rivalry matchup. He proved once again, why he should be a household name for NFL fans everywhere with his second half performance this week.

Jones scored both touchdowns for Green Bay and his 56-yard run was the dagger that ended it all for the Vikings.  He finished the night with 23 carries for 154 yards and 2 TDs (ESPN stats).

Defensive Standout: Za’Darius Smith

An evergreen sentence in my game recaps: Another week, another monster performance from Za’Darius Smith

Smith was just a terror Monday night and it was a pleasure to watch. I cannot say enough about him. I really can’t. I am a writer by nature, and I was at a loss for words after watching his performance. Put him in the defensive player of the year conversation. He is exceptional.

Smith finished the night with an incredible stat line: 7 total tackles, 6 of which were solo, 3.5 sacks, 5 tackles for a loss and 5 QB hits (ESPN stats).

 

Up next, the Packers travel to Detroit to close out the 2019 regular season against the Lions, Sunday December 29th. Kickoff is set for 1 PM EST.

Sarah Kelliher is a contributor for CheeseheadTV. She can be found via Twitter @sarahkelliher4

 

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Comments (18)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
GBPDAN1's picture

December 23, 2019 at 11:01 pm

So stoked over this win. It's going to be a very Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays everyone!

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Hematite's picture

December 24, 2019 at 05:18 am

Merry Christmas!
GO PACK GO!!

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Big_Mel_75's picture

December 23, 2019 at 11:05 pm

Just win baby!

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Adorabelle's picture

December 23, 2019 at 11:09 pm

Without the turnovers maybe they shut the Vikings out. Wow

Every game we have to listen to the announcers talk about "the packers need a second receiver to step up". I don't watch much football outside the packers do they say how the Saints need someone besides Michael Thomas to step up also?

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NickPerry's picture

December 23, 2019 at 11:13 pm

Game Recap... The Packers KICKED THE VIKINGS ASS...End of story!

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Bearmeat's picture

December 24, 2019 at 12:08 am

WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

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Wilment's picture

December 23, 2019 at 11:24 pm

Heres our signature win.....win clinches the north, we still have a shot at the number one or two seed. Rodgers didn't get flustered. Took what the Vikings d would give....patience. Vikings didn't score a point after the turnover td. Defense was monstrous. Cousins wife will need to get used to the 55 tattoed to her old mans chest. Team outgunned Vikings three to one, possessed the ball for almost 2/3rds of the game, in their house. Kevin King comes up with another pick. Big job by the defense tonight. We are the NFC North champs. GO PACK GO

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CAG123's picture

December 23, 2019 at 11:28 pm

Man I was hoping to see some better offensive efficiency tonight but ill take a defensive beating over that any day! Cousins and the Vikes did exactly what I expected them to and that's choke in a big game and yes despite them being a long shot at a higher seed and the NFCN this was a big game any chance you get to make things difficult for a division rival you take it. Love the way this def is playing so far in December holding teams to under 17 points. Lets finish off strong and broom the division!

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DraftHobbyist's picture

December 23, 2019 at 11:34 pm

Anybody who doubts the Packers are legit are just doubling down at this point. Teams playing like the Packers can obviously make Super Bowl runs. Former Giants, Steelers and Ravens teams come to mind. I think it's beneficial to say we can dominate a playoff team like this and still have room to grow.

I have to say that LaFleur had a big game calling plays today. The Packers were stalling early not because of getting outschemed, but because of drops, missed throws, turnovers or even a penalty. Guys were open all game, though, especially Lazard. Adams was open even when he wasn't open. We dominated running the ball as well.

Ball control was a big deal in this game. Because of our turnovers and the Vikings getting either quick strikes or 3-and-outs, the Packers had a massive advantage throughout the entire game in terms of time of possession and snaps. LaFleur was also increasing how tired the Defense got by getting a lot of plays to the outside and making the DL and LB's chase. The Vikings just wore down early and then buckled late.

I'm still loving this return guy we have. He didn't do anything big, but he's making all the right decisions. He either calls a fair catch when he should or he's getting the 5-10 yards that are there. He springs a big one here and there. I just love that.

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Spock's picture

December 24, 2019 at 10:02 am

" I think it's beneficial to say we can dominate a playoff team like this and still have room to grow." Well said D.H. If the offense can just get "this much" more together the Packers will be even more fun to watch. Love this team and love the TEAM play!

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canadapacker's picture

December 23, 2019 at 11:42 pm

Dont care if we get the 1 seed - but we definitely need to take care of business and get the 2 seed. If it ends up the way that it probably will then the Vikings will go into NO and the Seahawks will play Phillie. I like our chances against both Phillie and the Seahawks in Green Bay. Plus I like the chances of NO in San Fran - so that would mean that NO has to come to Green Bay in the very cold part of January. That would be nice - I would guess highly improbable but very nice. OK boys just beat the Lions - big or ugly but just beat down the Lions.

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NickPerry's picture

December 23, 2019 at 11:45 pm

NOW... Just take care of business next week in Detroit and HOPE Seattle AND "Beast Mode" take care of SF.

The ONLY ugly thing about this win by GB was the TO's. This was a solid dominating performance by the entire defense, the O-Line, and Aaron Jones in particular but Williams as well when he was getting snaps too. Hope Williams shoulder isn't a big deal. It was nice to see Ervin get some snaps on offense too.

I LOVE Allen Lazard. He may not be the fastest but the man knows how to block AND use his body against smaller CB's to get position.

Aaron Rodgers throwing to the MIDDLE of the field often was an awesome thing to see.

Frackrell beat Rieff like a drum on that holding call and it was actually EASY for the Ref to make that call.

Thumbs up to the Defense...TWO Thumbs up to 12-3!

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Packer_Fan's picture

December 24, 2019 at 12:07 am

A good overall game. Fantastic by the defense and the offense finally scored some touchdowns in the second half. How many times does a team win with three turnovers and win by two touchdowns. A great win heading into the playoffs. Need to win in Detroit to get that first round bye.

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Chevy572rat's picture

December 24, 2019 at 12:41 am

I'm so happy for this team !! It has to be so satisfying for A'Rod to show all the ESPN and NFL Network "Experts", with their "Aaron Rodgers isn't a top QB anymore" agenda, that he can still lead a team with a new coach, new offense, 1 WR, no TE, and a run game for a change, to a 12-3 record, NFC NORTH CHAMPIONSHIP, and a No.2 seed right now. To get it done after overcoming 3 first half turnovers at THEIR house, PRICELESS !! A'Rod would never say it out loud, but to ruin every Minnesota shitbags Christmas that applauded douchebag Anthony Barr's needless slam that broke his collarbone, has to make it alot sweeter and warrant some EXTRA SCOTCH !!! I will never get old of the look of defeat on Zimmer's face. PRICELESS. A signature win, but not done yet. Improving, working hard. If our defense can play like tonight, Lazard keeps improving, and Jones and Williams carrying and catching the rock, Aaron Rodgers can lead this team DEEP into the playoffs. Play like Champions. Go Pack !!!!!!!!

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4thand1's picture

December 24, 2019 at 02:26 am

SKOL, IS A LUMP OF COAL!!!!!!!!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS PACKERS FANS!!!!!!!!!!

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PAPackerbacker's picture

December 24, 2019 at 04:42 am

NFC North Champions again!! A strong finish against the Lions and a loss by the 49ers would be a great way to finish the regular season!! Congratulations to the Packers. Three turnovers in the first half and they still won the game. Outstanding performance and effort from the defense set the tone and shut down the Viking offense. A great team win. Go! Pack! Go!

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murf7777's picture

December 24, 2019 at 06:14 am

My biz partner is a viqueens fan, oh this feels so good.....I was so excited I couldn’t get to sleep after the game. He now owes me a steak dinner.

Regarding the game, oh my I was wrong, I thought the game would be won or lost by TO margin. We were so dominating on D that it didn’t matter. By far, the most enjoyable game to watch. Let’s go get a bye and kick the lions around the field.

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PackfanNY's picture

December 24, 2019 at 07:29 am

Sir, make sure you order the biggest, juiciest steak on the menu. Then order the priciest scotch or whatever your drink of choice is to wash it down. Sweet victory makes everything taste better. Enjoy.

You are right though. Let’s not forget about the tricky Lions. Getting at least a bye is very important.

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