The Green Bay Packers clinched the top spot in the NFC North after beating the Minnesota Vikings. Matt LeFleur’s guys were more than dominant in Minneapolis, posting a 23-10 win at the US Bank Stadium.
Truth to be told, Mike Pettine needs to be credited for this victory. The Packers’ defensive coordinator made a fantastic gameplan, which stunned the Vikings and harrassed Kirk Cousins all night long.
“Defense wins the NFC North championships,” said Aaron Rodgers during the on-field interview.
Green Bay allowed just 7 first downs tonight, which is the fewest for the Vikes at one home game since 1971. On the other hand, Cousins was sacked 5 times for 40 negative yards, and will for sure remember the No.55 in the white-and-yellow jersey.
Za’Darius Smith had 3.5 sacks and 5 tackles for loss. Without a doubt, his performance was the biggest factor for Packers’ win. In general, the guests’ defense was more than excellent, allowing just 139 yards from scrimmage to the Vikes. They would erase three turnovers and, in the end, allow a comfortable finish for their offense.
“That’s the energy that he has and brings to the locker room, he is a great player, a hell of a teammate,” Rodgers added about Smith.
In the moments when Minnesota took over the ball with 9:37 left until the end, with the result 17-10 for the Packs, it seemed that the momentum could be shifting. However, all that was stopped with a three-and-out, and on the next possession, Green Bay delivered a touchdown.
It was Aaron Jones who posted his second score of the night, after a 56-yard rush, which killed the morale of the hosts. He would previously add another one in the third quarter, 12 yards long. Jones ended the night with 154 rushing yards on 23 carries.
“Aaron was fantastic tonight,” Green Bay’s quarterback said.
— NFL (@NFL) December 24, 2019
What was interesting is that Aaron Rodgers didn’t have a single touchdown pass, yet his team won tonight. The two-time MVP had 216 yards, 26-for-40, one picks and a fumble on the opening drive of the night. However, during the game, he would slowly start to move the chains, using his favorite target, Davante Adams. Packs’ wide receiver caught 13 passes for 113 yards.
On the other side, Cousins lost his 9th Monday Night game. It is the worst record of one quarterback. But what needs to worry him more than that is his performance. He had just 122 yards thrown, 16-for-31, and was completely helpless without Stefon Diggs, who didn’t play tonight. Of course, he alone isn’t to blame, because there was no help from the running backs who posted just 57 yards on the ground.
Minnesota held the lead at the halftime, 10-9, but once the third quarter began, the hosts just stopped. Cousins’ pass was intercepted midway through the third, with CB Kevin King winning 39 yards on the return. That was the initial spark that woke up the visitors, and on the very next possession, Jones delivered the first of his two scores.
The Packers (12-3) won the division, and they can win the NFC if San Francisco 49ers lose in Seattle next week, and they beat the Detroit Lions. Otherwise, they will be the No.2, allowing them to have a week bye during the Wild Card round.
On the other side, the Vikings (10-5) missed a chance to make their life much easier in the playoffs, and they will stay at No.6. Vikes host Chicago Bears in the final game of the regular part of the season.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.