There were a lot of questions surrounding the Green Bay Packers entering their NFC North Showdown with the Minnesota Vikings Sunday and one the most important was whether the Packers defense could stop Adrian Peterson? Well after limiting Peterson to just 45 yards — it’s safe to say the answer was a resounding yes.
The Green Bay offense was definitely better than it has been and scored 30 points which is normally enough to win in the NFL. Yet the real hero of Sunday’s statement win by the Packers was the defense.
Green Bay surrendered just 45 yards rushing to Detroit but in losses against other playoff contenders — Denver and Carolina — the Packers allowed 160 and 130 rushing yards respectively. And with the NFL’s leading rusher on the opposite sideline Sunday, there were questions about whether the defense could hold up, but in the end Dom Capers’ crew left no doubt.
Led by a dominant performance by the defensive line and Clay Matthews who registered two tackles for loss, Peterson never got going and because of that the Vikings offense was stuck in neutral seemingly all day.
Teddy Bridgewater was able to make some plays in the passing game especially when targeting tight end Kyle Rudolph. Green Bay has struggled with tight ends all season long so it was not surprise to see Rudolph open for some big plays — yet when it mattered most — the defense came through.
The prime example of course came late in the game. Green Bay led 27-13 but Minnesota had advanced to the ball deep in Green Bay territory and looked poised to score and make it a one score game. That’s when Morgan Burnett forced a Peterson fumble that was subsequently recovered by Sam Shields.
Yet the outcome was decided much earlier as the Packers stymied Peterson and hit Bridgewater over and over again. Not only did Green Bay post six sacks — it also hit Bridgewater a number of other times even knocking him out of the game momentarily in the second quarter.
Winning in November and December is never easy. But yesterday the Packers showed that the defense at least is ready for the stretch run towards the playoffs. The offense needs to be better particularly if Green Bay wants to have a chance at making a deep playoff run.
But at least if the defense can keep playing this way — the Packers will once again have something to hang their hat on and as long as the front seven plays like it did yesterday — Green Bay will remain the team to beat in the North.