Packers rout Vikings, one win shy of postseason berth

The Packers forced four turnovers in the win 41-17
Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage (26) celebrates with fans after returning an...
Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage (26) celebrates with fans after returning an interception 75 yards for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)(Morry Gash | AP)
Published: Jan. 1, 2023 at 4:56 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WSAW) - The Packers are completely in control of their own destiny after a win over Minnesota Sunday 41-17.

After both teams punted on their first drive, the Vikings’ special teams made the first big impact. Minnesota blocked a Pat O’Donnell punt to take over at the Green Bay one. The Packers’ defense managed to keep the Vikings out of the end zone as Minnesota settled for a chip shot Greg Joseph field goal.

The next kick was a big one for Green Bay. Keisean Nixon finally got the kick return for a touchdown that’s eluded him. The speedster returned it 105 yards to give the Packers a 7-3 lead. It was the first kick return for a touchdown for the Packers since Randall Cobb did it in 2011.

After a couple more stagnant drives, the Packers defense came up with another huge play. On a third down, Vikings’ quarterback Kirk Cousins was intercepted by Darnell Savage off a deflected ball and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown. It was the first-ever touchdown for Savage as Green Bay expanded their lead to 14-3.

After a Minnesota punt, the Packers pieced together their best offensive drive, which bled into the second quarter. A 14-play drive got inside the Vikings’ five, but Green Bay had to kick a field goal, giving the Packers a 17-3 lead.

Minnesota went on the offensive on their next drive, getting into Packers territory. However, the Packers’ defense again got to Kirk Cousins. A tipped ball led to an Adrian Amos interception, ending the Vikings’ threat. Green Bay made quick work as a long Aaron Jones run set the Packers up deep in Vikings’ territory. From there, Aaron Rodgers zipped one to Robert Tonyan for 21 yards to give Green Bay a 24-3 lead.

On their final drive of the half, Minnesota once again crossed the 50 into Packers territory. The Vikings would attempt a 50-yard field goal with 41 seconds left in the half, but Greg Joseph would miss for the second time on the day. With time still on the clock, Green Bay would fight for one more score before intermission. They’d get the ball to the Vikings’ 37 to set up a 56-yard field goal. Crosby knocked it through to give Green Bay a 27-3 lead at the half.

The third quarter only saw two possessions. On Minnesota’s turn with the ball, a Kenny Clark strip sack ended what was otherwise another nice Vikings drive. The Packers used a long drive that ran into the fourth quarter that ended with an AJ Dillon two-yard score.

The next Vikings’ possession also ended in a turnover. Kirk Cousins was picked for a third time, this time by Rudy Ford. The Packers used the field position to punch in another insurance touchdown as Rodgers took it himself for a two-yard touchdown scamper, making the game 41-3.

From there, it was all over except for the formality. Minnesota did find the end zone on a long Cousins pass to Jalen Nailor for 47 yards. The Vikings would add another touchdown inside the last minute of the game as Nick Mullens pitched it to KJ Osborne who found the end zone. However, as clocks finally hit zero, Green Bay would win by their largest margin of the season at 41-17.

Aaron Rodgers finished the day 15-24 for one touchdown and no picks. Aaron Jones led the rushing attack with 14 carries for 111 yards. Through the air, Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan each had over 50 yards receiving. Tonyan also had a touchdown. The Packers’ defense forced four turnovers for the third consecutive week, three of which were interceptions.

With the Washington Commanders losing to the Cleveland Browns Sunday, the Packers controlled their own destiny entering the game. Now, all Green Bay has to do is beat Detroit next Sunday at Lambeau Field and they make the playoffs. The start time for that game is still to be determined.