Sunday, January 6, 2013

PFT: Rodgers shines in easy Packers victory

Wild Card Playoffs - Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay PackersGetty Images

When the Packers played the 49ers in the opener, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was quiet for three quarters.

And because he didn?t wait that long Saturday night, Rodgers will have a chance to settle the score.

In a performance even Greg Jennings? sister would approve of, Rodgers led the Packers to a convincing 24-10 win over the Vikings in their Wild Card game. They travel to San Francisco for next Saturday night?s Divisional Round game.

Rodgers was immaculate in the first half, which was all of Saturday?s game that mattered, finishing with 274 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. While it will be tougher against the 49ers on the road in the divisional round, he was surgical against a Vikings defense that can create pressure.

If he can be as good next week, it could be classic.

Here are five more things we learned during the Saturday night playoff edition of Sunday Night Football:

1. Credit to Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, and a side which was gashed for 217 rushing yards last week.

The fact the Vikings were incapable of the forward pass helped, but the Packers were able to keep Vikings running back Adrian Peterson from ever getting to the perimeter, as he did so often last week (34 carries for 199 yards then, 22 carries for 99 yards Saturday).

Without a dynamic playmaker on the outside, the Vikings offense had no balance, or much of a chance.

2. That said, the Packers are going to have to tighten things up next week, because the 49ers can pass sometimes.

But the 49ers are also more stout up front, particularly on the right side, and can open holes that don?t require a player of Peterson?s caliber.

Frank Gore hit them for 112 of the team?s 186 yards in the opener, and that was without the threat of quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking off.

3. While everyone?s beating up on Vikings quarterback Joe Webb, and rightfully so, the group of receivers they rolled out there tonight isn?t scaring anyone, regardless who is throwing the ball.

Jerome Simpson?s stat line would have looked better if Webb hadn?t airmailed one 15 yards over his head, but there?s not a lot of reason to think they?d have thrown for much if Christian Ponder was well. Michael Jenkins is just a guy. Jarius Wright is stuck in project status.

Injured wide receiver Percy Harvin might not have a future with the Vikings for reasons that transcend ability, but he made money tonight by not doing a thing.

4. If the Vikings haven?t started talking contract with coach Leslie Frazier, they should start yesterday.

The job Frazier has done stitching a team together with a starting quarterback who is inoffensive at best has been admirable.

The Vikings were not burdened with expectations, but they also did not freak out when people started paying attention to them this year. That level approach speaks to the direction they get from their head coach through the week.

To win without a solid quarterback takes great coaching, and the Vikings have that now.

5. The failed fullback dive by John Kuhn seemed regrettable early, forcing the Packers to settle for a field goal.

But his two touchdowns earned some redemption for a guy who?s as much of a cult hero as a weapon in the Packers offense.

He?s scored in four straight postseasons, matching his two-touchdown game in the rout of the Falcons two years ago.

And any reason for fans to chant a surname with a long U sound is a good one, in my book.


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