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GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers referenced Cal-Stanford, of course.

All the Packers, including Rodgers, were certainly glad the play didn’t make the historical archives like the famous 1982 lateral-filled college kickoff return did.

But boy, was it close.

“It looked like they had something,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “I ain’t gonna lie to you, it looked like they had something.”

Chicago definitely did. On the final play of the Packers’ 21-13 triumph on Sunday, the Bears eschewed a Hail Mary from the Green Bay 34-yard line and decided to complete a short pass and try to lateral their way to the end zone instead.

It very well could have worked, partly because the Packers were expecting the Hail Mary, so the change-up caught them off-guard.

Running back Tarik Cohen grabbed Mitch Trubisky’s pass around the 30-yard line, ran another 10 yards, and pitched the ball back to Trubisky. He dropped it, scooped it up off the frozen Lambeau Field turf, avoided Kyler Fackrell to stay alive for a few yards, and lateraled to tight end Jesper Horsted around the 15.

As Horsted started angling to his right toward the pylon, suddenly the Bears did indeed have “something,” like Williams said. Receivers Anthony Miller and Allen Robinson were both to Horsted’s right, and they might have had the Packers outflanked.

“I think we’ve all seen clips of the play in the ‘Big Game’,” Rodgers said, drawing on his alma mater Cal’s immortal finish to beat rival Stanford 37 years ago, one year before the Packers QB was born. “Just finish the play.”

It was almost too late for the defense to do so. Had Horsted lateraled the ball to Robinson around the 10, with Miller in front of him to block, Robinson might have scored. But Horsted took a step or two too many, and by the time he tried to pitch it, he was being dragged down by Chandon Sullivan, and the lateral was low and forward, caroming off someone’s leg toward the end zone.

At that point, only Horsted, by rule, could have recovered the ball for the play to be legal. Williams recovered it for the Packers inside the 5, and the sighs of relief were exhaled.

“That last play, that was scary,” defensive lineman Kenny Clark said.

Robinson could be seen begging for the ball and was clearly upset when it didn’t come to him sooner. Horsted, an undrafted rookie from Princeton, is going to kick himself when he sees the film. Chicago was eliminated from playoff contention Sunday.

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Crosby made three field goals and missed his lone extra-point attempt in Monday’s victory over the Vikings.

Crosby missed his first kick of any kind since Week 3, but he also tied his single-game high on the season for field goals, which came from distances of 19, 33, and 42 yards. Crosby’s final matchup of the regular season will come against the Lions, who allowed opposing kickers to make 10-of-11 field-goal attempts and all 14 extra-point attempts they put in the air over the last five weeks.

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As the saying goes, you want to play your best football in December.

Did the Green Bay Packers do that? Did they begin to play their best football on the first day of December?

In snowy New Jersey, it would take more than three full quarters before the Packers would wrest full control over the New York Giants.

The glass-half-full point of view is that the Packers took care of business, beating a hapless Giants team starting a rookie quarterback by a score of 31-13.

The Packers’ bend-but-don’t-break defense rediscovered its thieving ways, setting up the Packers’ offense with three additional possessions via interceptions. The Packers would turn those into 10 points and cruise to victory.

The less-optimistic version goes like this: for a bulk of the game, the offense found itself stuck in too many unfavorable third-and-longs. They disappeared for stretches after a hot start. A few beneficial calls – some obvious, others more gratuitous – helped move the chains for a stagnant offense, too. Absent some terrible throws by rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, this game may have been too close for comfort considering the perceived talent disparities between the Packers and Giants.

Perhaps the pessimism is attributable to last week’s undressing. The Packers have the type of record that says they’re one of the NFC’s top teams, but, at least lately, they’re not showing that with enough consistency.

Is this just the first step towards forging the team’s playoff identity? We’ll see.

Onto the takeaways.
Secondary takes advantage of rookie quarterback

One of the early hallmarks of the Packers’ defense this season was its ability to force turnovers. In the first three weeks, the Packers created seven turnovers, which contributed to their hot start.

The Packers went back to playing that opportunistic brand of football, and it began when Kevin King intercepted Daniel Jones early in the second quarter.

The Packers would then intercept Jones in back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter. The first came by way of an overthrow. Jones targeted Sterling Shepard downfield on the right hash, but the ball sailed on him. Savage played the overthrow and came away with the pick. On the ensuing drive, Jones tried to hit Darius Slayton on the left sideline with Tramon Williams in one-on-one coverage. Williams’ stacked Slayton and played the ball as if he were the intended receiver.

It wasn’t the cleanest game from the Packers’ secondary, but the turnovers are great equalizers in football. The Packers did what they needed to do.
Aggressive Aaron Rodgers is the best Aaron Rodgers

Once again, Aaron Rodgers threw a touchdown pass on a “free” play. This time, it was the too-late attempted substitution that got the Giants with a too-men-on-the-field penalty. Though it’s a bit gimmicky, No. 12 operates like IBM’s Watson at quarterback. No detail goes unnoticed, and the Giants’ sloppiness gave the Packers a big score.

We’ve seen the games where the Packers aren’t getting free plays at the snap or free first downs because of the NFL’s whimsical approach to pass interference, illegal contact, and defensive holding. For as nice as it is to get those calls, it’s not something the Packers should rely too much upon. It’s a nice jolt for the offense, but it can’t be the offense.

Today, Rodgers completed 64 percent of his passes (21-of-33) for 243 yards and four touchdown passes. It was a fine effort. It’s hard not to notice, however, his “free” play touchdown to Davante Adams.

With a Giants defenseman scurrying to get off the field, Rodgers gets the snap in a hurry and sees the yellow flag. From there, he rockets a ball into tight coverage in the middle of the end zone.

When he wants to be – or rather when he’s forced to be – Rodgers can be a deadly downfield thrower, fitting the football into tight windows and registering multiple explosive plays on a single drive. The offense seems to stagnate when Rodgers plays too conservatively; he’ll take “shot” plays on play-action, and he’ll throw it downfield in man-to-man coverage along the sideline. But he generally waits for receivers to break open, which exposes him to the pass rush and removes the rhythm of the play’s initial concept.

Rodgers hates to throw interceptions, but he’s going to have to trust his receivers to make plays in tight coverage. He has the arm. Tipped balls might happen. Interceptions might happen. But to beat the 49ers of the world, this team is going to have to grow a little more comfortable taking some chances.
Packers struggle running the football

Save for a few tough runs by Jamaal Williams in the second half, the Packers couldn’t do much of anything against the Giants today. Some of that was to be expected. Entering today’s game, the Giants had only been giving up 3.9 yards per attempt, which is the sixth-best mark in the NFL.

Williams finished the game as the team’s leading rusher, carrying the ball 10 times for 41 yards. Aaron Jones could muster just 18 yards on 11 carries. Rodgers added 24 yards on three scrambles.

Kudos to Matt LaFleur and the Packers for not completely abandoning the run game; much of the offense is predicated upon the team’s ability to at least look like they’re going to run the ball. Still, the Packers will need to find some more consistency in the closing weeks of the season. The weather isn’t getting any better.
Interceptions aside, defense struggles

Like pi, Za’Darius Smith is a mathematical constant. Regardless of the opponent, he brings energy, motor, and, more importantly, production. Today, he hit quarterback Daniel Jones five different times. There’s a little more ebb and flow with his still-productive counterpart, Preston Smith; however, the Packers can almost guarantee a strong performance from No. 55.

The same can’t be said for the rest of the defense, though. Giants rookie tight end, sixth-round pick Kaden Smith, led the team in receiving, catching six passes for 70 yards. The Packers’ struggles with tight ends again reflect the year-long trend where this defense cannot, for a few reasons, cover the middle of the field. Their middle-of-the-field zone coverage struggles to attach itself to receivers entering or crossing into zones, so opposing quarterbacks have easy completions with too much frequency.

A couple key players struggled today, too. Blake Martinez collected tackles (10 today, which led the team), but it’s more about what he doesn’t do that contributes to the team’s struggles. On a fourth and short, Preston Smith contacts the ball carrier short of the marker, but can’t make the tackle. The Giants convert because the Packers, specifically Martinez, don’t fill. He’s also one of the reasons for the porous middle-zone pass coverage, as he doesn’t close throwing lanes well.

Kevin King is another player who struggled. He did get redemption with an interception, but teams are clearly targeting King in coverage and leaving Jaire Alexander more or less alone. King was beaten by Sterling Shepard on a double move for an 18-yard touchdown. Against shiftier receivers, King gives too much cushion; he’s most susceptible on comeback routes.
JK Scott rebounds

JK Scott had been really struggling the past month or so, but he finally put together a good game.

Scott punted the ball three times, averaging 46.7 yards. His longest punt went for 47 yards.

His first punt was fair caught at the Giants’ 11-yard line. His second punt was caught at the 9-yard line and returned to the 21. His last was his best. Punting from just inside his own 50-yard-line, Scott’s last punt of the game would hit the turf and stay out of the end zone. The Packers downed the punt at the 6-yard line.

Early in the season, Scott had been a useful weapon to flip the field when the offense wasn’t playing particularly well. While he didn’t have any field-flipping opportunities, he did keep the Giants playing deep into their own territory.

If Scott is going to break out of his slump, December is a great time to do it.
Related
Good, bad, and ugly from the Packers’ victory over the Giants
Instant analysis of Packers’ 31-13 win over Giants in Week 13

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When: Monday 12/23, 7:15 PM CST
Where: US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
How to Watch: ESPN
Head to head: Packers lead 60-53-3 Playoffs 1-1

Bulaga (Al Bello/Getty Images) (Photo: Scout.com)

 

Storylines to follow
All the Marbles (Not really)

The first time these two teams met, the Packers jumped out early to a 21-0 lead and looked like they may run away with the game. Then to quote Aaron Rodgers, “Mike Zimmer happened.” Green Bay ultimately hung on to win the game 21-16 and have not relented the divisional lead all season. Since week two, both teams have lost three games with the head-to-head matchup being the difference while this game could potentially play a significant factor in the NFC North title race. The Packers still control their destiny in that race, even with a loss to the Vikings. A loss to the Vikings and a victory over Detroit next week ensures an NFC North title in Green Bay. What is more critical is seeding; if the Packers can win their next two games, they will lock up the two seed, and potentially the one with some help. Winning the North is on this team’s checklist, but no one in the NFL will want to come to play this team at Lambeau in January.

Hypothetical: 49ers lose to the Rams on Saturday and Seahawks lose to the 49ers Week 17. Packers beat Vikings and Lions.

The NFC playoffs would go through Lambeau Field.
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) December 16, 2019

Unstoppable Force, Immovable Object

The Packers have never won at US Bank Stadium
The Vikings are 7-0 at home this season
The Vikings are 0-8 with Kirk Cousins under center on Monday Nights.

Something has to give.

With the loss to Seattle, Kirk Cousins now falls to 0-8 on Monday Night Football.

The winless record is the worst by any quarterback in MNF history ?? pic.twitter.com/UPXXh6q9c9
— The MMQB (@theMMQB) December 3, 2019

Game Tilting Matchups
Can Green Bay Stop the Run?

Dalvin Cook will not play, but whenever Gary Kubiak is involved, it often does not matter who receives the handoff. Clearly, the Vikings would love to have their top back, but the Packers will still have their work cut out for them. The Viking’s top backup is Alexander Mattison, who is averaging 4.6 yards per carry, Mattison is coming off an ankle injury, but is expected to play. If Mattison is limited, the Vikings would then turn to Mike Boone, who looked impressive with two touchdowns in last week’s victory. The Vikings offense starts with the run; then, they like to throw over the top of defenses with play action. Green Bay did a good job limiting the run game in week two, and an even better job of not biting on any play-action shots. Expect Mike Pettine to have a similar game plan this week.

With Raven Green or Ibraheim Campbell on the field for the #Packers, they’re giving up 16.1 points per game, and that includes the 37 to SF.

Without them, the Packers give up 24.1 points per game.

That hybrid nickel safety is CRUCIAL to this defense.
— Peter Bukowski (@Peter_Bukowski) December 17, 2019

Kenny Clark vs. Minnesota Interior O-Line

Kenny Clark is a game wrecker. Never has that statement been more evident than the first time these teams met in week two. Clark tallied seven total pressures and a sack en route to his second-highest graded game of the season per PFF. Pat Elflein vs. Clark may be the most favorable matchup anywhere on the field for either team. Elflein has struggled all season with his transition to guard. Rookie center Garrett Bradbury opened the season poorly but has since rebounded, and shown plenty of promise. This game will be an excellent litmus test for him to see just how far he has come this season, and he will no doubt want to put his first matchup with Clark behind him and leave Monday’s game with some better football on film. Unfortunately for him, Kenny Clark has played like a one-man wrecking crew.

69 get’s out in front of his skies a tad, and Clark makes him pay big time.

Clark is playing at a level that, if you aren’t getting help, you better be perfect to stand a chance. https://t.co/SBT4N5KsM4
— Jake Morley (@JacobMorley) December 19, 2019

Bakhtiari and Bulaga vs. Hunter and Griffen

Studs. All of them. Last week we talked about how sacks ruin drives; pressure can wreck games. There is only one duo in the NFL that has registered more pressures than the Smith Bros. That would be the EDGE rushers in Minnesota. Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter have combined for 147 QB pressures this season. For comparison’s sake, the Smith Bros have accounted for 139. In week two, the Hunter and Griffen tandem registered 16 QB pressures and one sack. Griffen did most of the heavy lifting with 11 pressures, but Hunter had the sack. Bulaga and Bakhtiari rank amongst the best pass blocking duos in the National Football League. They will need to play to that standard Monday night if the offense has any hope on the road in a rowdy stadium.

Congrats my guy @DavidBakhtiari on his pro bowl bid. Plays like this is why he’s one of the best. pic.twitter.com/zq3ooPI2Ih
— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) December 18, 2019

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“You like that! You. Like. That!”

Those words yelled by then-Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins following a dramatic win in 2015 have followed the QB his entire career.

And when the quarterback — who signed with the Minnesota Vikings on a fully guaranteed deal in 2018 — has faltered in big moments, including Monday night in a dreadful offensive showing, he has seen those words thrown right back in his face.

But Monday night’s example might be the most painful.

Media members captured Preston Smith, a defensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers who played with Cousins on the Redskins from 2015-2017, mocking his former teammate by repeatedly shouting “You like that!” on the way to a triumphant Packers locker room.

Perhaps worst of all for Cousins, he has no rebuttal for Monday night’s performance.

Minnesota managed a paltry 139 yards and just seven first downs in a 23-10 loss that saw the rival Packers clinch the NFC North title. Cousins went 16-for-31 for 122 yards with a touchdown and an interception in another big-game letdown that will overshadow what has otherwise been probably his best season as a pro.

But facts are facts: The QB is now 0-9 on “Monday Night Football,” the worst mark as a starter by anyone in the 50 seasons of MNF, per ESPN.

Smith has a point: Packers fans do in fact like what they saw Monday night.

As for Cousins, he’ll always have that Sunday afternoon in 2015.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jace Evans on Twitter @JaceTEvans.

If you love talking football, we have the perfect spot for you. Join our Facebook Group, The Ruling Off the Field, to engage in friendly debate and conversation with fellow football fans and our NFL insiders.

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Montravius Adams is not projected to be worth a roster spot based on total fantasy points the rest of the season. His 2 projected fantasy points puts him at #145 behind Folorunso Fatukasi and ahead of Greg Gaines. Montravius Adams is expected to improve on this season-to-date’s #177 fantasy position rank.
REST OF SEASON DL RANK PROJECTION FANTASY STATS SINCE 2018
#143 Damion Square 2 FP, 1.99 per game 30 FP, 15 gp, 2 per game (#132)
#144 Folorunso Fatukasi 2 FP, 1.99 per game 30 FP, 15 gp, 2 per game (#132)
#145 Montravius Adams 2 FP, 1.96 per game 30 FP, 15 gp, 2 per game (#132)
#146 Greg Gaines 1.9 FP, 1.91 per game 30 FP, 15 gp, 2 per game (#132)
#147 Corey Liuget 1.9 FP, 1.91 per game 30 FP, 15 gp, 2 per game (#132)

These projections power SportsLine’s Computer Picks and Fantasy Data. But for contest winning DFS optimal lineups by top experts like Mike McClure visit SportsLine’s new Daily Fantasy Hub.
WEEKLY FANTASY PERFORMANCE

Week 10 was his best week where he put up 4.5 FPs and was the #21 defensive lineman. Montravius Adams had more below average weeks than above average weeks. The table below has his weekly games played, fantasy points and weekly position rank.
FANTASY PROJECTIONS AND ACTUAL STATS

The tables below show projected stats (totals and averages) for the rest of the season and current week. Also included are actual stats from the current and last season.
MONTRAVIUS ADAMS FP SACK SOLO FF INT PD
Rest of 2019 2.00 0.2 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.2
Week 17 @DET 1.96 0.18 0.79 0.02 0.01 0.24
2019 Season 12.5 0 4 0 0 3
— Per Game (10 GP) 1.25 0.00 0.40 0.00 0.00 0.30
2018 to 2019 28.0 1 13 0 0 3
— Per Game (19 GP) 1.47 0.05 0.68 0.00 0.00 0.16

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Follow the action from today’s game between the Green Bay Packers (11-3) and Minnesota Vikings (10-4), with the latest updates at the bottom, and join the conversation.
PREGAME
Inactives

Minnesota will be without both of its top running backs. Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook was ruled out on Saturday and Alexander Mattison is among the Vikings’ inactives. Mike Boone, who has fewer rushing yards in 22 career games than Cook had against Green Bay in Week 2, will be the featured back.

For the Packers, defensive tackle Dean Lowry, who was the only player listed as questionable, is active. Who’s out? Receiver Ryan Grant, running back Dexter Williams, cornerbacks Tony Brown and Ka’dar Hollman, offensive linemen Alex Light and John Leglue, and tight end Jace Sternberger. Without Light and Leglue, who was claimed off waivers from the Saints on Saturday, veteran Jared Veldheer will be active for the first time in his brief Packers career.
What’s at stake

With a victory, the Packers will win the NFC North Division title and remain in control of at least a first-round bye. San Francisco and New Orleans are 12-3, and the Packers would improve to 12-3 with a victory. San Francisco and Green Bay each have two conference losses compared to three for New Orleans, so the Niners would be No. 1, the Packers would be No. 2 and the Saints would be No. 3. The Packers could earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs if they win tonight and at Detroit on Sunday and if San Francisco loses at Seattle on Sunday night.
The Full World’s Best Preview

Two-minute drill: Health and home cooking

Offensive decline was years in making

Inside the Vikings: Who will replace Cook?

Rodgers vs. Zimmer, Round 13
Game time
First Quarter

Packers 0, Vikings 0 (14:00 remaining)

The Packers got crushed at San Francisco after Aaron Rodgers was stripped on the opening series to gift-wrap an opening touchdown for the 49ers. On third-and-5, a quick pass to the left to Aaron Jones resulted in a fumble. Anthony Barr’s strip and Eric Kendricks’ recovery and return set up the Vikings at the 10.

Vikings 3, Packers 0 (13:11 remaining)

The score: Dan Bailey kicked a 23-yard field goal.

Key play: On second-and-goal at the 5, Za’Darius Smith tossed aside left tackle Riley Reiff to force a throwaway by Kirk Cousins. On third down, Cousins threw too high and too hard to fullback C.J. Ham for an incompletion. So, while the Vikings took an early lead, at least the Packers avoided a disastrous start.

Vikings 3, Packers 0 (8:37 remaining)

The Packers were on the move, highlighted by an 18-yard reception by Davante Adams. On third-and-7 from the outskirts of field-goal range, Aaron Rodgers took a chance on a deep ball to Allen Lazard against cornerback Mackensie Alexander. It was a one-on-one to a receiver with a 7-inch height advantage. Lazard, however, apparently didn’t see the ball and it fell harmlessly incomplete.

Vikings 3, Packers 3 (2:00 remaining)

The score: Mason Crosby booted a 42-yard field goal.

Key plays: It’s not the plays the Packers made but the ones they missed. On third-and-3, Aaron Rodgers just missed fullback Danny Vitale, who had a step on linebacker Eric Kendricks. At worst, it would have been first-and-goal inside the 5. Rodgers wanted a hold on Kendricks but didn’t get it. On third down, Rodgers flipped a pass in the flat to Jones but Jones bobbled the off-target ball and couldn’t make the play. Missed opportunities have been the difference for the offense for most of the season – the opening pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling and missed deep passes to Jimmy Graham and Aaron Jones vs. Washington as recent examples – and cost the Packers a touchdown on this series.
Second Quarter

Vikings 10, Packers 3 (13:33 remaining)

The score: Kirk Cousins, 0-8 for his career on “Monday Night Football,” threw a perfect deep ball to Stefon Diggs for a 21-yard touchdown against cornerback Jaire Alexander. Alexander’s coverage was good; Cousins’ throw was perfect.

Key play: On the first play of the second quarter, Aaron Rodgers’ streak of 277 consecutive passes without an interception came to an end as Vikings safety Anthony Harris ran underneath a route to Davante Adams and made a leaping interception. It was his sixth pick of the season and gave the Vikings the ball at Green Bay’ 26.

Vikings 10, Packers 6 (7:00 remaining).

The score: Mason Crosby made a 33-yard field goal.

Key plays: The Packers nickeled and dimed their way down the field. The biggest play was a third-and-1 completion to Davante Adams that gained 11. It was a quick pass in the flat, with Geronimo Allison making the key block on Xavier Rhodes to allow Adams to gain 12 after the catch. In the red zone, Rodgers had to throw it away on second down and his throw into traffic on third down was batted down by cornerback Mackensie Alexander.

Vikings 10, Packers 6 (4:52 remaining)

This week, David Bakhtiari called Za’Darius Smith the team’s best player. He’s been the best player in the first half. On first down, Mike Boone had a big hole off the left side but Smith got off the block and stopped Boone in his tracks to limit the play to 4 yards. On second down, he thrashed left tackle Riley Reiff for the sack.

Vikings 10, Packers 6 (4:07 remaining)

If Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones and Davante Adams are the best players on offense and the team’s only hope of moving the ball consistently, how on Earth are they supposed to win a big game when they each have a turnover? This time, Rodgers fired a laser to Adams, who didn’t catch it cleanly but finally pulled it in but got it stripped by Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith. The Vikings took possession at the Packers’ 48 – their third drive starting on Green Bay’s side of the field.

Vikings 10, Packers 6 (2:37 remaining)

On third-and-4 from the 42, Minnesota turned to some trickery in hopes of taking a commanding lead before halftime. It almost worked. Receiver Stefon Diggs got the ball on a reverse and flipped a pass to quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was wide open up the right side of the field but the ball was overthrown. On fourth down, Cousins’ deep pass to Adam Thielen was overthrown. Green Bay’s defense, for the second time, escaped a disaster.

Vikings 10, Packers 9 (0:00 remaining)

The score: Mason Crosby made a 19-yard field goal on the final play of the half.

Key plays: Again, it’s the plays the Packers didn’t make more than the plays they made. On second-and-10 from their 45, Aaron Rodgers hit wide-open tight end Jimmy Graham for a gain of 18 but Graham appeared to give up on the play before running out of bounds and cornerback Mike Hughes punched the ball loose. Receiver Geronimo Allison recovered but it cost the Packers a timeout. A screen to Jamaal Williams gained 11 but burned a lot of clock, a quick out to Davante Adams picked up 13 and short completions to Adams (6 yards) and Williams (8 yards) set up first-and-goal from just inside the 2-yard line with 7 seconds remaining. With one timeout, the Packers could have run the ball. Instead, Rodgers had to burn a timeout rather than take a delay of game. Coming out of that second wasted timeout, Rodgers’ pass to Adams was too far inside. Adams dropped it. So, it was a bad pass, a bad drop and a hard-to-swallow field goal.
Halftime

The Packers had overwhelming advantages of 221-68 in yards and 13-2 in first downs but trailed 10-9 thanks to three turnovers and a couple missed red-zone opportunities. Aaron Rodgers was 18-of-30 passing for 156 yards with one interception and a 59.9 rating. Counterpart Kirk Cousins was 4-of-12 passing for 39 yards with one touchdown and a 71.2 rating. Za’Darius Smith was a force with one sack and three tackles for losses.
Third quarter

The Packers forced a three-and-out to start the second half. Meanwhile, Minnesota linebacker Eric Kendricks has been ruled out. He leads all NFL linebackers with 12 passes defensed.

Packers 17, Vikings 10 (2:03 remaining)

The score: Aaron Jones put the Packers in front with a 12-yard touchdown run. Receiver Allen Lazard’s block on cornerback Xavier Rhodes was the key to make it happen. Green Bay went for two, with Aaron Rodgers connecting with a sliding Geronimo Allison.

Key plays: With Minnesota moving the ball for the first time the entire game, Kirk Cousins went deep to receiver Stefon Diggs against cornerback Jaire Alexander. Fellow corner Kevin King bolted to the middle and made the interception – his fifth of the season – and returned the ball 39 yards to the 47. On third-and-2 with the Packers in position for a long field goal, Rodgers connected with Davante Adams for 6 yards and a first down.
Fourth quarter

With the Packers back on the field, Jamaal Williams (shoulder) is questionable.

Packers 17, Vikings 10 (7:40 remaining)

Green Bay’s defense delivered again. On first down, Kevin King dropped tight end for minus-1. On second down, Jaire Alexander limited a pass to Ameer Abdullah to 3 yards. On third-and-8, defensive tackle Kenny Clark sacked Kirk Cousins to force a punt.

Packers 23, Vikings 10 (5:51 remaining)

The score: Aaron Jones scored on a 56-yard touchdown run to potentially send the Packers to the NFC North championship. The left side of the Packers’ line created a big hole, Jones ran through two arm-tackle attempts and receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling delivered a block on the perimeter. Jones jogged the final 20-or-so yards.

Key play: It was rushing touchdown No. 16 – most in the NFL and second-most in franchise history. Jim Taylor rushed for 19 touchdowns in 1962. Ahman Green (2003) and Taylor (1961) had 15 rushing touchdowns.

Packers 23, Vikings 10 (3:34 remaining)

The Vikings had a long touchdown called back as left tackle Riley Reiff, who is having a miserable game, all but tackled outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell. On fourth-and-25, Mike Zimmer brought out the punt team to a chorus of boos from a record crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium.
FINAL: PACKERS 23, VIKINGS 10

Behind an absolutely dominating defensive performance and a heavy dose of Aaron Jones and Davante Adams, the Green Bay Packers rallied past the Minnesota Vikings 23-10 to win the NFC North.

Za’Darius Smith had 3.5 sacks and five tackles for losses to help limit the Vikings to 139 yards and seven first downs.

Meanwhile, Aaron Jones overcame a first-possession fumble to 154 yards and two touchdowns. Adams caught one short pass after another, turning 13 receptions into 116 yards.

Green Bay dominated statistically, other than three first-half giveaways. It played much better in the second half, though, to earn its first victory in four trips to U.S. Bank Stadium.

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins fell to 0-9 on “Monday Night Football.” The more he struggled, the more he was booed; the longer the Vikings struggled, the louder the “Go Pack Go” chants rang through the stadium.

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Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari is about to become the campaign manager for Za’Darius Smith’s All-Pro candidacy.

In the locker room following the most dominant performance of Smith’s season on Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings, Bakhtiari – a three-time All-Pro – had a simple message.

“You’re an idiot if you don’t vote for him for All-Pro, he is a stud,” Bakhtiari said, via John Doran of Fox 11 News in Green Bay.

Smith produced 3.5 sacks, 5.5 tackles for losses and five quarterback hits, helping the Packers dominate the Vikings offensive line and hold Kirk Cousins to only 82 net passing yards.

Smith became just the sixth player since 2006 to tally at least three sacks, five tackles for losses and five quarterback hits in a single game. Only Smith, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack have done it since 2015.

Through 15 games, Smith has 13.5 sacks, 35 quarterback hits and 17 tackles for losses. Only two other players have hit all three numbers in a single season since 2006: Donald, and J.J. Watt.

Smith currently ranks sixth in the NFL in sacks, third in tackles for losses and first in quarterback hits.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Smith leads the NFL in total pressures. Next Gen Stats has him as the league leader in quarterback disruptions.

Smith wasn’t among the edge rushers included in the initial Pro Bowl rosters released last week. He’s an alternate.

Bakhtiari was twice an All-Pro without making the Pro Bowl, so he knows the feeling. And he knows Smith is following a similar path in 2019.

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Monday night’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers isn’t for all the marbles, but an argument could be said that it’s for a whole bunch of them.

The Packers and Vikings are both destined for the playoffs, but based on what happens Monday night and the following week against a depleted Detroit Lions team, the Packers could find themselves as the NFC’s top playoff seed, or the lowest playoff seed. The difference between the two seeds comes down to a first-round bye and at least one home game versus playing up to three games on the road prior to the Super Bowl.

Yikes.

For visiting Green Bay, tackle Bryan Bulaga, corner Kevin King, tackle Alex Light, linebacker Blake Martinez and corner Tramon Williams are all nursing injuries but are certain to play. Tight ends Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis were limited in practice this week, but are also expected to play. Defensive end Dean Lowery is questionable to play.

For the Vikings, defensive tackle Linval Joseph, safety Jayron Kearse, corner Xavier Rhodes and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen are all nursing injuries but are expected to play. It’s at running back where the Vikings might be thin. All-world running back Dalvin Cook is out, and his backup Alexander Mattison is questionable.

Packers

Scheduled to play, but full participants in practice:

Bryan Bulaga T
Kevin King CB
Alex Light T
Blake Martinez LB
Tramon Williams CB

Scheduled to play, but limited participants in practice:

Jimmy Graham TE
Marcedes Lewis TE

Out

Yosuah Nijman T

Questionable

Dean Lowry DE

Vikings

Scheduled to play, but full participants in practice:

Linval Joseph DT
Jayron Kearse S
Xavier Rhodes CB
Shamar Stephen DT

Out

Dalvin Cook RB

Questionable

Alexander Mattison RB

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Custom Aaron Jones Jersey Large

Aaron Jones rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns and Davante Adams caught 13 passes for 116 yards as the Green Bay Packers clinched the NFC North title with a 23-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.

The win puts the Packers in position to earn a first-round bye next weekend with a win over the Detroit Lions.

The Packers defense also suffocated Kirk Cousins, Mike Boone and the Minnesota offense as they missed the presence of Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison. The Vikings managed just 139 yards of offense on the night as Adam Theilen was held without a catch.

Jones and Adams each lost fumbles and Aaron Rodgers was intercepted once as well as first half turnovers gave Minnesota the early advantage. A 21-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Stefon Diggs after the Anthony Harris interception of Rodgers served as the only touchdown for either team until late in the third quarter.

Mason Crosby‘s three field goals from 42, 33 and 19 yards brought the Packers within a point, 10-9, at halftime.

Cousins was intercepted by Kevin King on a deep shot to Diggs that helped Green Bay finally flip the script and find the end zone. The pick gave the Packers the ball near midfield and eight plays later Jones sprung free for a 12-yard touchdown to take their first lead of the night. A two-point conversion from Rodgers to Geronimo Allison pushed the lead to 17-10.

Rodgers completed 26 of 40 passes for 216 yards with an interception.

Meanwhile, Minnesota just couldn’t get anything accomplished offensively. Cousins was sacked five times with Za’Darius Smith racked up 3.5 sacks and five total quarterback hits on the night.

Just one play after linebacker Anthony Barr was sidelined, Jones delivered the final blow for the Packers. Jones knifed through the Packers’ line for a 56-yard touchdown that gave Green Bay a 23-10 lead with 5:51 left to play.

A 53-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Bisi Johnson was negated by a holding penalty on tackle Riley Reiff against Kyler Fackrell that would have given the Vikings a chance to revive their chances.

Cousins completed 16 of 31 passes for 122 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Boone was held to just 28 yards on 11 carries in place of Cook and Mattison.