Lifeless Vikings prove to be no match for still perfect Packers
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GREEN BAY, Wis. - The Minnesota Vikings might have taken some consolation from their Oct. 23 loss to the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers at the Metrodome.
But there was absolutely no silver lining to be found from the Vikings' performance on Monday night at Lambeau Field.
Coach Leslie Frazier's team looked disorganized from the get-go, took far too many dumb penalties and was completely overmatched in an embarrassing 45-7 loss to the undefeated Packers (9-0).
The 38-point loss was the Vikings' worst in their 102-game series against the Packers that dates to 1961. It also tied for the second-largest margin of defeat in Vikings' history.
The team's worst loss was a 44-point defeat (51-7) on Dec. 8, 1984 at San Francisco. The Detroit Lions beat the Vikings 45-7 on Dec. 12, 1981.
The Vikings, who beat Carolina 24-21 on Oct. 30 before their bye week, fell to 2-7 as they lost their fourth in a row to Green Bay.
The tone was set after the Vikings' opening possession when rookie Randall Cobb took a Chris Kluwe punt 80 yards for a touchdown.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, giving him seven in two games against the Vikings this season.
Rodgers, who was replaced by Matt Flynn with more than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, did not throw an interception this year versus the Vikings. Rodgers finished 23 of 30 for 250 yards on Monday night.
Ponder, meanwhile, did not have a touchdown pass, was intercepted once and finished 16 of 34 for 190 yards.
He nearly had two other passes picked off by Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, including one in the third quarter that would have been a sure touchdown and would have tied Rod Woodson's NFL record of 12 picks returned for scores.
Peterson was held to 14 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown.
The Packers won the opening toss and elected to defer until the second half.
That didn't work out very well in the first meeting between these teams when the Packers did the same thing and Michael Jenkins caught a 72-yard pass from Ponder on the first play from scrimmage to set up a quick touchdown.
This time, however, Packers coach Mike McCarthy was rewarded for his decision.
After the Vikings went three-and-out, Kluwe's 52-yard punt was fielded by Cobb at his own 20. Cobb took off from there and raced down the field for a touchdown.
The Packers also got points the first time their offense touched the ball, driving 70 yards in 11 plays. Green Bay went no-huddle on seven of the plays and Rodgers found Greg Jennings over the middle on a 24-yard pass for a touchdown. Safety Jamarca Sanford appeared to freeze on the play, enabling Jennings to make the catch without much trouble.
Rodgers also found Donald Driver during the series on a 22-yard pass on third-and-8 from the Green Bay 32.
The Vikings had a chance to pull within 14-3 late in the first quarter as Ryan Longwell appeared to hit a 47-yard field goal attempt. However, the field-goal was wiped out when Fred Evans was called for a false start.
Longwell's 52-yard attempt came up short, making him 13 of 17 on field-goal attempts this season.
The Packers added three points in the second quarter after going for it on fourth-and-5 from the Vikings 34-yard line. Rodgers' pass to tight end Jermichael Finley went for 25 yards to the Vikings 9. That set up a 25-yard field goal by Mason Crosby that made it 17-0.
Green Bay's touchdown drought didn't last past the second quarter.
The Packers opened the third quarter at their own 31 and quickly moved down the field.
Facing a fourth-and-2 from the Vikings 35, Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for a 12-yard completion. Two plays later, Rodgers found Nelson again for a 17-yard touchdown that ended with the wide receiver easily besting cornerback Cedric Griffin for the score.
Cobb, who muffed a punt at the Metrodome, did the same later in the third quarter, losing the ball at his own 17. It was recovered by the Vikings' Ryan D'Imperio at the Green Bay 14. Percy Harvin caught an 11-yard pass from Ponder and Adrian Peterson scored on a 3-yard run to make it 24-7.
It didn't take for Cobb and Green Bay long to respond.
Cobb returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards to midfield. Rodgers completed passes of 9 yards to running back James Starks, 17 yards to Ryan Grant and finally 9 yards to John Kuhn for a touchdown and a 31-7 Packers lead.
The Packers added two fourth quarter touchdowns to account for the final margin of victory.
The Cobb punt return was really all the Packers needed to establish how Monday night's game would go. This one was never in doubt.
• 4: Packers winning streak in this series.
• 26-29: Vikings record in Monday night games.
• 11-20: Vikings record away from home on Monday nights.
• 17-6: Vikings record following their bye week.
• 26: Consecutive games with a touchdown pass by Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field. That breaks Brett Favre's franchise record.
• 9: Consecutive games in which Rodgers has thrown two or more touchdowns. Favre had a stretch of eight in a row in 1994.
• Starting left cornerback Antoine Winfield returned after missing four games because of a neck strain. However, he suffered a broken clavicle in the second half and his season is likely finished.
• Left tackle Charlie Johnson appeared to injure his finger in the second quarter and was replaced by Pat Brown. Johnson was able to return.
Odds and ends
• The Vikings' inactives included Herrera; cornerbacks Chris Cook and Brandon Burton; linebacker Xavier Adibi; offensive lineman DeMarcus Love; wide receiver Stephen Burton; and defensive end D'Aundre Reed.
• Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford were playing safety to open the second half as starter Husain Abdullah suffered another concussion. The Vikings later inserted Mistral Raymond at safety to replace Sanford.
• Wide receiver Joe Webb, who turned 25 on Monday, caught the first pass of his career late in the third quarter.
• The Vikings started to make personnel changes in the final quarter to get some seldom-used players in the game.
Green Bay: Randall Cobb 80-yard punt return, 13:42. Mason Crosby kick. Packers 7, Vikings 0
Green Bay: Greg Jennings 24-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers, 5:02. Crosby kick. Drive: 11 plays, 70 yards, 4:53. Packers 14, Vikings 0
Green Bay: Crosby 25-yard field goal, 12:04. Drive: 9-51-4:10. Packers 17, Vikings 0
Green Bay: Jordy Nelson 17-yard pass from Rodgers, 10:45. Crosby kick. Drive: 8-69-4:15. Packers 24, Vikings 0
Green Bay: John Kuhn 9-yard pass from Rodgers, 6:21. Crosby kick. Drive: 5-50-2:20. Packers 31, Vikings 7
Green Bay: Nelson 4-yard pass from Rodgers, 10:59. Crosby kick. Drive: 11-59-5:30. Packers 38, Vikings 7
Green Bay: Matt Flynn 3-yard run, 4:27. Crosby kick. Drive: 9-66-6:03. Packers 45, Vikings 7
The Vikings will play their first home game in nearly a month Sunday when they take on the Oakland Raiders at the Metrodome.
The Raiders will be coming off a long rest, having last played on Thursday night when they beat the Chargers 24-17 in San Diego.
Oakland, which obtained Carson Palmer from the Cincinnati Bengals in an October trade after Jason Campbell broke his collarbone, is sitting atop the AFC West with a 5-4 record. San Diego, Denver and Kansas City are all 4-5.
Palmer, who had refused to report to the Bengals before being traded, has thrown five touchdowns and seven interceptions in his first three games with the Raiders. Six of those interceptions came in his first two appearances.