Still Perfect

The Green Bay Packers stayed undefeated and improved their record to 9-0 with a dominating victory over the Minnesota Vikings 45-7.

The Packers got an early boost from rookie wide receiver and kick returning prodigy Randall Cobb, who returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown just 1:18 into the game.  Cobb had a total of 156 return yards (76 on kickoffs and 80 on punts) along with 3 receptions for 36 yards, for 192 total yards in the game.  He also returned a kickoff 108 yards in the first game of the season, so this is his second return TD of the season.

Aaron Rodgers continued to make his case for NFL MVP with his play on the field.  As the season progresses, it’s getting hard to come up with sufficient superlatives to describe what he does on the field.  He was once again completely in control of the offense, completing 23 of 30 passes for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns, with no interceptions.  He also ran the ball 6 times for 21 yards.

His passing efficiency for the game was 140.3, and he continues to be on record pace to break Peyton Manning’s single season record for QB efficiency of 121.1.  Rodgers has actually been getting better and better as the season progresses.  His current season average is 130.7, but it was 120.9 in September, 129.4 in October and 143.2 in November.

The Packers did try to take their foot off the gas late in the game, putting in backup quarterback Matt Flynn in the fourth quarter, but Flynn went 2 for 2 for 38 yards and ran in the final TD from the 3-yard line to push the final score to 45-7.

It’s [our] best game, because of the margin of victory,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “And at the end of the day, it’s about points.”

More importantly for the Packers, their defense looked more like the opportunistic Super Bowl defense from last year.  They shut down Adrian Peterson, who had 175 yards rushing and a TD when these teams last met on October 23.  This time around, they held Peterson to 51 yards rushing on 14 carries, plus the Vikings’ sole TD of the game.

Rookie QB Christian Ponder struggled with the Packers defense, who threw a variety of blitzes at him.  They sacked him 3 times and registered 6 QB hits.  Ponder finished the day 16 of 34 for 190 yards with no TDs and 1 INT.  For the rookie to have to play 2 of his first 3 games against the defending Super Bowl champ is a tough way to start.  Ponder is undefeated against teams not based in Wisconsin.

While the Vikings were a longshot tonight, they were far more competitive when the two teams played three weeks ago, losing by only six points.  “Our performance tonight was very disappointing,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said.

Vikings defensive end Jared Allen had a solid game, and harassed Rodgers regularly, but wasn’t able to sufficiently slow down the unstoppable force that is the Packers offense.  When asked post-game about some of Rodgers gaudy stats, he replied, “I don’t even know what that means…. All I know is he crushed us tonight.”

The Packers host the 4-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lambeau Field next week, for the next stop on their attempt at the perfect season.  The Vikings schedule gets slightly easier as they host Carson Palmer and the 5-4 Oakland Raiders.

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