Packers Gameday Live
Vikings 37, Packers 34; same teams Saturday night in playoffs
Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Next game: Saturday, January 5th in NFC wildcard playoffs vs. Minnesota
Packers Gameday at 5:00 p.m. on Newsradio 620 WTMJ and immediately after Bengals-Texans on TODAY'S TMJ4 in Milwaukee and NBC26 in Green Bay; download our FREE Packers "Gameday Extra" app!
The Packers and Vikings will play Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. on Newsradio 620 WTMJ, TODAY'S TMJ4 and NBC26.
McCarthy to Larry McCarren:
"Tough game today. Definitely an environment where it took a while to get going. Out guys battled for four quarters."
"We've got to tackle Adrian Peterson. We've got another opportunity next week."
6:28 p.m. Vikings' 2nd Drive 2:54
Minnesota 37, Green Bay 34
Walsh 29 yd FG
There's enough time to stop the Vikings and get the ball back for a game wininng drive. But the Packers must stop the Vikings in their territory. No big return. As Greg Matzek reminded me on Twitter, Walsh has a cannon of a leg.
Peterson stuffed again. Hasn't had much. But he can break it anytime.
AGAIN! Packers swarm Peterson at the line of scrimmage.
3rd-11 at MIN 26: after the two minute warning.
Uh oh. Jenkins. Wide open. Burned Hayward and Burnett. Past the 50. And with Jerel Worthy hurt and carted off the field, exhorting his teammates, the Vikings have maybe five yards to go to get into field goal range.
Ponder. Peterson. Uh oh. Bounce out...but he's stopped at the 41. Could have been much worse.
Cannot give up any more yardage with Walsh's leg. Good thing the ball was out of bounds.
Peterson again. First down. Four yards. Tick tock. Tick tock. Impending doom.
:30 left, at GB 37: Peterson for nothin'. Time out at 24. Walsh has not missed from 50 yards-plus this season. Incredible kicker.
:24 left, at GB 37: Peterson. Cutback run inside the 15 to the 11. Three potential tackles broken. Doom.
6:17 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 7:54
Green Bay 34, Minnesota 27
Rodgers-Nelson 2 yd TD pass
The 49ers game is a final. 27-13 over Arizona. Packers must win to get a first round bye.
Just me, but for some reason, I have a good feeling about this for the Packers.
The drive to tie the game starts with 12 yards from Rodgers to Jones.
Uh oh. Griffin. 2nd sack of the day for him. Burning Barclay, not the best pass protector. More of a solid run blocker.
3rd-15 at GB 29: MONSTER 3rd down. And it gets worse. 3rd-20 at GB 24 thanks to Don Barclay.
Finley makes a leaping grab, but at the 43. A yard away. Wow, what a catch, but useless. Do you dare go for it? Dare?
Yes! Rodgers to Boykins. Fantastic throw while Boykin was being interfered with. While the Vikings were getting ready to receive a punt. McCarthy outcoaches Frazier there.
Rodgers to Finley again...splitting defenders and into Vikings territory. Still hope.
3rd-4 at MIN 39: YES! Jennings on the seam route, and to the 30! Rodgers with a spectacular throw to Jennings, to lead him to more yards after the catch.
HARRIS! Huge run to the red zone. I told you I had a good feeling.
Flaggage near the two yard line, and the Vikings' penchant for penalties are keeping the Packers in the game.
1st-goal at MIN 2: TIE GAME! Back shoulder to Nelson!
6:06 p.m. Vikings' 1st Drive 12:21
Minnesota 34, Green Bay 27
Ponder-Jenkins 3 yd TD pass
Peterson can get the record on this drive.
Ponder deep to Wright. Forget the record. Bigger worries. He beat Sam Shields. 4.3 speed kills.
But Peterson makes his presence felt. 12 yards. More broken tackles. Just incredible.
1st-goal at GB 2: Peterson...not this time, v.3, and flaggage, too. Loadholt held Worthy. Just creates more space for Peterson to run through.
1st-goal at GB 12: Peterson....not this time, v.4. A white wall at the line of scrimmage.
2nd-goal at GB 12: Drop in the end zone by Jenkins, even with the firing of the bombs. He may have just saved the Packers' 1st-round bye. Maybe.
3rd-goal at GB 12: Ponder blitzed...and a screen to Gerhart, but Clay Matthews blew it up.
Flag on the other side? Whaaaaaat? Williams and Simpson on the other side of the field getting into a spat.
Williams gets the flag, though Simpson got the illegal shove in simultaneously. That just cost the Packers four points, I think.
1st-goal at GB 7: Peterson. Up the middle. Not enough. Phew.
2nd-goal at GB 5: Peterson. Stopped by Matthews. He's down. Uh oh.
3rd-goal at GB 3: Ponder...forever to throw...broken up? Nope. Great diving grab by Jenkins.
5:58 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 15:00
Green Bay 27, Minnesota 27
Crosby 41 yd FG
Deep...Rodgers...nope. Jennings would have been open, but slightly overthrown.
3rd-5 at MIN 45: Jones! Yes. First down when they had to.
Jennings! Big first down near the 26. One-man screen, and Jennings beat the guy he had to beat to get the first down.
Harris does his mini-APete impersonation, dragging a tackler three yards for a six-yard gain.
3rd-4 at MIN 22: Rodgers...Jennings cut too late outside for the ball to come to him. Tying field goal? Crosby?
5:51 p.m. Vikings' 3rd Drive 1:56
Holding on the return vs. Minnesota, and that may save McCarthy from his 15 yard malfeasance.
This game feels more like the 2009 debacle in the Humpty Dump and the Favre game, especially with Peterson's brilliance like Favre's that year. But something tells me this Packers team still has something to say about that.
3rd-7 at MIN 24: make that 3rd-12 at MIN 19. Momentum swinging.
Gerhart stopped with a rare textbook tackle today. Walden providing it. The lead is in the view of the Packers.
5:40 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive 4:00
Minnesota 27, Green Bay 24
Rodgers-Jones 10 yd TD pass
Rodgers has to drive his team 87 yards to cut the advantage to three points again.
3rd-3 at GB 20, a place that has been majorly problematic, especially early today.
Rodgers deep! Nelson! Had two guys beat, but lost the sprint to the end zone. Still, they're 10 yards from paydirt after a 70-yard bomb.
1st-goal at MIN 10: Jones cuts, breaks a tackle...uh oh. Ball loose. A Viking reached for the ball and got it, but what's the call? JONES TOUCHED THE BALL ON THE GOAL LINE! The ref said Vikings ball, but this will be changed back if the refs do it right.
This won't be a touchdown, but it will be 2nd-and-goal on the 15 thanks to McCarthy throwing a challenge flag when he's not allowed to. (Stupid rule.)
5:23 p.m. Vikings' 2nd Drive 8:17
Minnesota 27, Green Bay 17
Ponder-Peterson 2 yd TD pass
Defense, now you must save the Packers.
Not this time. Ponder found Simpson for 21 yards. Williams got burned. Badly. Deep crossing pattern, and Simpson got away with a shove when he made his cut. But that typically won't get called.
Peterson got stuffed with gang-tackling by the Packers. That RARELY happens.
Broken tackle again. First down by Felten. Williams with the fail.
PETERSON FUMBLE! Shields recovers and fumbles...and M.D. Jennings saved it at the 40. Or was that a lateral? Shields will claim that. Plus another 15-yard taunting penalty on Minnesota.
Uh oh. That call will be challenged. The ball and his knee touched simultaneously...or Peterson's knee actually beat the fumble by about a split second. Continue the drive.
But the 15-yard penalty still applies. To the cusp of Walsh's field goal range.
2nd-27 at GB 35: Peterson just gained all of it back. "That's unbelievable." - Wayne Larrivee
1st-goal at GB 7: Ponder throws...nope. Saved by Pickett at the line of scrimmage. Run Peterson twice here.
Simpson ran into Burnett during a pattern and, when he got back on his feet, collapsed back to the ground. He's getting treatment in the end zone.
2nd-goal at GB 7: Peterson. Not this time. Brad Jones finally wraps around him.
3rd-goal at GB 5: Blitz...Ponder to Rudolph? Out of bounds, but holding on McMillan gives the Vikings three more shots, and basically guarantees a two-score lead with Peterson in the backfield.
1st-goal at GB 2.5: Peterson. Not this time, v.2. Wilson smashed him up a yard away.
2nd-goal at GB 2: Ponder...end zone...wide open...Peterson can catch, too.
5:13 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 10:42
Ross' return of 10 yards turns a horrible situation into a fewer-than-80 yard path to the lead.
Flaggage as Rodgers got shoved to the ground near the Vikings bench after the 1st down incompletion. Brinkley shoved him, and Rodgers did a little acting job to get the flag. Not much acting needed, but it helped.
Harris gets some blocking, a lot of good blocking on a screen pass, and Harris cut back to get 11 yards. If Harris was slightly faster, he'd be running to the state line right now.
Harris again. Inside Vikings territory. The Packers can gash Minnesota both on the ground and through the air. They'll need to this play.
3rd-1.5 at MIN 45: make that 3rd-6.5 at 50, thanks to Don Barclay's malfeasance.
FUMBLE! Rodgers scrambled and lost it...and the Vikings have gathered it in. Robison tomahawked the ball loose. The arm was not coming forward, I don't think.
Whoa boy. Fumble.
5:09 p.m. Vikings' 1st Drive 11:56
The Packers are dangerous in the playoffs, not because they have momentum, but they can overcome momentum with the ability to overcome adversity. That ability is found in their explosive passing game. You just saw what it can do.
Peterson. Wide lane to the 40 yard line. Raji. Williams. Both missed tackles. Peterson may hold the NFL record for most broken tackles. By the way, 2,000 yards, too.
3rd-4 at MIN 46: Thanks, Hayward, and the Packers can get the lead next drive.
5:02 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 15:00 left in 3rd Quarter
Minnesota 20, Green Bay 17
Rodgers-Jennings 5 yd TD pass
The most important drive of the Packers' season so far starts 80 yards from paydirt, and a necessary seven points. Three won't cut it.
Harris...cutback...five yards. If he gets five yards every time, I'll take it.
Jones! Off to the races after a fantastic block by Finley, and Jones set him up big. 30 yard gain. The Packers have some momentum changers when they need them.
Rodgers gets sacked for the third time, due to his own feet's malfeasance.
Jennings! Huge blocks! Inside the 10 yard line thanks to making three guys miss and a Nelson block gets him to the seven! Wow, have the Packers answered the first half failures.
1st-goal at MIN 7: Harris on a toss sweep, and not very Lombardi-like in execution. Two yards.
"This little Harris is a dynamo." - Wayne Larrivee.
2nd-goal at MIN 5: Rodgers...wide open! Jennings! No one within the state line!
"We've got ourselves a ball game!" - Wayne Larrivee
4:44 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 1:07
Minnesota 20, Green Bay 10
Crosby 51 yd FG
Two-minute offense, don't fail Packers fans now. A touchdown, and the ball is in the Packers' hands to start the second half. Anything can happen.
Rodgers...forever to throw but no one open until Jennings got 14 yards in the seam.
No huddle...Finley....block from Jones....near the 50. This is the quick-moving attack the Packers have had to get all game long. But a bit of a lather being built up.
Nelson for 12 more yards, and Rodgers is in a rhythm until he clocks the ball at the MIN 38. This is what the Packers have waited for all game long.
"The most efficient the Packers have been all day." - Larry McCarren
:31 left: Rodgers pressured, and the good of the Nelson reception did nothing. Sack. Plus time ticks off.
:09: Finley gets out of bounds for Crosby. MUST make. MUST!
4:36 p.m. Vikings' 2nd Drive 3:58
Minnesota 20, Green Bay 7
Ponder-Wright 7 yd TD pass
Another failure to tackle, as the kickoff return got 41 yards when they should have had 20 at the most. Fundamentals could cost the Packers big.
Deflection...catch. Miraculous catch. Wright. Or was it a catch? A trap? Replay shows it was a spectacular, Follies-style catch for 20 yards.
3rd-4 at GB 36: Ponder keeps the change moving with Simpson making a juggling catch. This makes Packers fans sick.
Peterson "stacked up into the backfield, slips away." - Wayne Larrivee. Words of doom. 18 yards to a goal-to-go situation.
1st-goal at GB 8: Ponder...Wright...wide open...uh oh. Two score game again.
4:18 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 9:07
Minnesota 13, Green Bay 7
Rodgers-Jennings 2 yd TD pass
Ross!! 22 yard runback and the Packers are in business. Best offense so far.
Harris is a close second with a sweet 12-yard slam off left tackle, with Finley providing a great block on Jared Allen.
3rd-8 at MIN 27...and they psychologically need seven on this drive: Jones! To the 17. Textbook route. Textbook throw. Uncoverable.
Rodgers shakes his head in disgust, makes a million adjustments at his line of scrimmage, then just hands off to Harris. Maybe he misses Jeff Saturday on line calls?
3rd-7 at MIN 14:
Rodgers left and Jennings stretches right to the seven yard line. All effort. Juked one guy. Broke another tackle across the first down line.
1st-goal at MIN 7: Harris...nuthin' doin'.
2nd-goal at MIN 6: Finley slant, and caught, but dropped thanks to Cook's defensive job. Larry: "Well defended ball."
3rd-goal at MIN 6: Rodgers...catch...Finley...Flag....touchdown? None are sure immediately. Before the flag...holding on the Vikings' D. Three new shots at it. Obvious. The Vikings linebacker had Finley's helmet in a headlock.
1st-goal at MIN 2: Diving catch? Nope. Juggle and drop by Jennings.
2nd-goal at MIN 2: ARod...forever to throw...no one open for Green Bay. Horrific.
3rd-goal at MIN 2: Must score. Must punch it in. Thanks to Rodgers' scrambling and delivery, yes! Jennings!
4:16 p.m. Vikings' 2nd Drive 10:47
Vikings 11 yard line means that Peterson can get 89 yards closer to the NFL rushing record. Especially if the Packers fail at tackling like they have.
3rd-4 at MIN 17: FINALLY! A three-and-out. Pass wide of Simpson. Now, for the Packers to avoid three-and-out disease.
"Nice to see the Packers defense get off the field in a reasonable amount of downs." - Larry McCarren
4:06 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 14:51
Really must score here.
Ross! Guys chasing him! 44 yards after he slipped through the right-center of the Packers' sorta-wedge.
Larry McCarren: "Ross is sort of north and south. Not a lot of east and west!"
Huge field position at a time when they need it.
Harris! Nine yards for the little guy, with a little frame for tacklers to grasp.
Again, Harris. "Summoning his inner Adrian Peterson." - Wayne Larrivee. First down. Let him work the rest of the game. More energy, more cutting. Grant didn't seem sure of himself.
Play action...and it didn't do anything. Sack. Jared Allen. Archenemy No. 1. HUGE loss. 12 yards. A rare sack where Rodgers is flushed backwards and sacked.
What? Delay of Game? 2nd and 27 coming up? Nightmare.
Jennings bails them out, somewhat. 20 yards really helps them out and puts them in field go...uh, nope. Not with Crosby. Four down territory. Don't be surprised with a run.
3rd-7 at MIN 37: Jones, broken tackle, but pushed outside the 40. Four yard loss. This is embarassing for one of the great offenses in football.
4th-11 at MIN 41: Punt. Must punt. Field position battle will help.
4:04 p.m. Vikings' 1st Drive continued from 1st quarter
Minnesota 13, Green Bay 0
Walsh 27 yd FG
Hayward was beaten deep by Wright, but Ponder threw it even deeper on 3rd down.
3:55 p.m. Vikings' 3rd Drive 4:33
FINALLY! Someone stops Peterson in the backfield. B.J. Raji ate Charlie Johnson, the left guard, for lunch and dinner.
But you must win on 3rd down. Packers haven't on either side of the ball.
3rd-10 at MIN 47: Jenkins inside the Packers' 44, one of those useless completions that don't produce first downs, unless...they go for it?
Yep. And if Adrian Peterson doesn't get the ball, the Vikings' playcaller should be fired.
Uh oh. Off to the races again, stopped at the 38. A.J. Hawk had an arm tackle opportunity. He shot a gap to try to get Peterson. An arm won't stop him.
Play action...and the Packers can stop Ponder and company. Clay Matthews owns the left tackle. But on 3rd-20, the best play is Peterson, and they may as well hand off to him every play.
3rd-7 at GB 35: Ponder gets Rudolph again. The one guy who could catch passes in the first matchup does it again. 10 yards.
"They cannot get the Vikings off the field." - Wayne Larrivee
Ponder's own legs produce a near first down after eight yards on the sideline. All because Matthews chased him down.
3:51 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 5:44
Now, it's must score time. 9:16 in, it's must score time.
No running game to speak of yet, as Grant is not even getting to half-speed in the backfield, nor is he doing any major cutbacks.
3rd-5 at GB 25: Tip between the ball's path from Rodgers to Jennings. Three-and-outs won't win playoff games, or near-playoff games. If the teams with momentum entering the playoffs win Super Bowls, this won't cut it for Green Bay.
3:39 p.m. Vikings' 2nd Drive 9:33
Minnesota 10, Green Bay 0
Peterson 7 yd TD run
A fantastic return by the Vikings turned a 59 yard punt into a 34 yard net. Not horrible, but not great. Simply outkicking coverage.
SACK TIME? Nope, at least according to the original call. But the knees were down, on my look, when Ponder delivered the ball. Smart challenge.
The refs agree. Yes, it is sack time for Matthews!
3rd-12 at MIN 40: Gerhart. Uh oh. Off to the races. The not-so-quick one rumbled for 21 yards, with the help of bad tackling. The Vikings' offense is in gear, though not-so-textbook tackling doesn't help.
Uh oh. Peterson. Broken tackle means another 20 yards. Brad Jones with the whiff and it means a 23-yard gain. This is 2008-style tackling, and we all know what happened that year to the Packers due to their defensive malfeasances.
Peterson. Cutback. Uh oh. Vikings in control. Wayne: "They have no answer, at least not yet, for Adrian Peterson."
3:34 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 10:47
Grant starts the Packers' first possession with not much. Two yards. Not an effective cutback by Grant in the backfield. Not effective blocking either.
3rd-4 at GB 26: Rodgers' receiver, James Jones, slipped and fell. The ball nearly became a tipped pick for the Vikings. Thankfully, Rodgers threw the ball to Bloomington.
3:25 p.m. Vikings' 1st Drive 15:00 left in 1st quarter
Minnesota 3, Green Bay 0
Walsh 54 yd FG
First play: who else? Peterson. This time, no gain, thanks to Burnett penetration on the defensive left side. He beat Jenkins' block.
Play action, and Rudolph is the recipient of a first down pass. Only four defenders on the opposite side of the fake handoff, and the key pass worked perfectly.
Peterson's first big run. 12 yards. Spin move behind the line of scrimmage. 90% of NFL running backs can't do that. He can. The Packers must tackle better. If they do, that's a one-yard loss.
3rd-7 at MIN 48: Ponder to Simpson, and eight yards. He beat Williams, with dreadlocks in his wake.
Meanwhile, WSCR Radio reporter Zach Zaidman tweets that Lovie Smith actually uttered the words "Go Pack Go!" on the Bears' radio postgame show.
3rd-10 at GB 43, with a pretty large Packers contingent joining in the noisemaking: Forced to run, he slashes to the GB 36 - not a first down, but possibly three points?
Coin toss time: Packers win toss, and defer, controlling second half momentum. Always smart.
Bears fans, welcome to Packers Planet. Even for a few hours. Remember: you drink Wisconsin beers and wear cheese on your heads. And you're proud of it.
If the Packers should win, be careful what you wish for. The 49ers or Seahawks will gladly have their Bear-meat cutting objects ready for you in the wildcard round.
Mike McCarthy w/Wayne Larrivee:
On the intensity of today:
"We're playing to sweep our division...we have that opportunity. Practices have been very spirited. We're ready go to."
On Randall Cobb's inactive status:
"Randall is close. If this was not a regular season game, we'd feel differently."
On the post-season atmosphere expected today at the Metrodome:
"This is definitely going to be a playoff atmosphere...this is a great experience, a ton of energy...it's important for us to stay consistent, focus and finish."
The Giants seem to have control of their final regular season game against Philadelphia, leading 35-7 in the 4th quarter, but unless Detroit comes back on the Bears, the New York Giants have zero life left. That's much to the happiness of Packers fans who loathe that possible playoff matchup.
That's such a reason for the Packers to root for the Bears today, and not just vice versa.
Key Packers inactives: Randall Cobb (the big one), James Starks (not very small), Donald Driver, Davon House (tough for the secondary), Terrell Manning.
Why is Cobb the biggest inactive? Green Bay will need all weaponry available to go point-for-point in what will be an inspired Vikings running game with Adrian Peterson.
For the Green Bay Packers, it doesn't come all the way down to this, but a win sure would help their effort to win a 14th world championship.
For the Minnesota Vikings, it probably comes down to this.
Barring a minor miracle of dominoes disguised as NFC wildcard contenders falling later today, the Vikings have to beat the Green Bay Packers in the Humpty Dump (officially known as Mall of America Field at the H.H.H. Metrodome) today to make the playoffs.
The Packers probably have to win to clinch a first-round bye in said playoffs, and get not just a week off from the wildcard round but a home game in the divisional round.
Will urgency decide today's game? Not necessarily. Execution will.
The Packers are indoors, on a fast track, the perfect kind of conditions with which to unleash their often unbeatable-in-a-dome passing game.
Aaron Rodgers and the deepest receiving corps in the league have helped the Packers win eight of their last nine games in games where a man-made structure blocks the view of the sky.
The Packers can certainly put up points against the Minnesota defense, but will they have the capability to stop an inspired Adrian Peterson and an offensive line trying to open enough holes for him to break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record?
The absence of Charles Woodson could again prove to be the undoing of the Packers' efforts in trying to contain Peterson enough to hold the score down and make Minnesota one-dimensional.
Don't be surprised if Peterson rushes for more than 200 yards and breaks the rushing record.
But don't be surprised if that's not enough for the Vikings to halt Green Bay's march to a first-round bye that they could desparately use to help get a more-than-nicked-up team healthy for the playoffs.