PACKERS TOP VIKINGS TO MOVE INTO A TIE FOR FIRST PLACE IN THE NFC NORTH
– Green Bay beat Minnesota, 23-14, today at Lambeau Field to improve to 8-4 on the season. With Chicago’s loss to Seattle on Sunday afternoon, the Packers and Bears are tied for first place in the NFC North, two games ahead of the Vikings (6-6).
– With the victory on Sunday, the Packers extended their franchise-record divisional winning streak to 10 games.
– Green Bay has won five consecutive games against the Vikings, the longest streak vs. Minnesota since a five-game one from 2006-08.
– The Packers have won 18 of their last 19 regular-season games (.947) at Lambeau Field and 24 of their last 26 contests (.923) at home.
– Green Bay will stay home for another NFC North contest when it hosts the Detroit Lions next Sunday night at Lambeau Field in a nationally televised game (7:20 p.m. CST).
OTHER POST-GAME NOTES:
– Today’s paid attendance was 70,567. It was the 308th consecutive sellout (291 regular season, 17 playoffs) at Lambeau Field.
– QB Aaron Rodgers threw a TD pass in his 35th consecutive regular-season game at home, further extending his franchise record. It is the longest in the NFL since Dolphins QB Dan Marino’s 39-game streak from 1983-88.
– Rodgers went over the 3,000-yard passing mark for the season, his fifth straight 3,000-yard season (2008-12).
– S Morgan Burnett matched his single-game career high (at Chicago, Sept. 25, 2011) with two interceptions.
– C Jeff Saturday made his 200th career NFL start.
– P Tim Masthay placed his 27th punt inside the 20 this season, the third most in a season in franchise history (since 1976) behind only Sean Landeta (30 in 1998) and Craig Hentrich (28 in 1996).
– With a plus-one turnover ratio, the Packers have now won the takeaway battle or come out even in 27 of their last 30 regular-season games.
– Green Bay’s 38:30 time of possession was the team’s top mark since a 40:48 time of possession at New England on Dec. 19, 2010.
GREEN BAY PACKERS HEAD COACH MIKE McCARTHY:
(opening statement) “Good victory for the Green Bay Packers today. Good divisional win. It’s always tough to play the Vikings. I was very, very pleased with the way our team started the game. I think that tilts toward our preparation when we come out with the fast start. In the second quarter we had some things go against us. Then the start of the second half, with the poor start, the rush defense wasn’t where it needed to be. I thought Morgan Burnett’s interception in the third quarter in the end zone was probably the key play of the game. It shifted the momentum. I felt that our team was able to overcome adversity and played very well in the second half. Offensively, we maintained balance, which we needed to. We overcame the injuries to T.J. Lang and Jordy Nelson. Defensively, we played tough; the tackling was not where it needed to be. Adrian Peterson is an outstanding football player and we respect him. Maybe we respected him too much. We had too many missed tackles there. I thought our special teams were solid.”
(on Don Barclay’s performance) “I thought Don did a good job. Actually, I thought the confidence in the play calling reflected that. When he first went into the game, I tried to take care of him and play it smart. Frankly, after halftime we just really played a basic, clean football game. I thought our players did a heck of a job. It was nothing unusual. We took a couple shot plays, but it just came down to being balanced with the run and pass, similar to the way they were playing us on defense. We saw a little bit more quarter coverage than we probably anticipated, but I thought Don gave us an opportunity to keep rolling by allowing us to play both run and pass. I was pleased from what I saw.”
(on being able to run off time in the third quarter after Morgan Burnett’s interception) “We stuck to our plan and tried to stay in favorable down and distances. We know what it looks like when we’re stuck in third-and-11 on 47 percent of our third downs like we were last week. That’s not the formula for success. The focus was to play in favorable down and distances. I thought we were able to do that today.”
(on if he feels like he’s getting into a good running back situation with Starks and Green) “I liked the combination of running backs today and I loved what James Starks did. I thought he stepped up. I thought Alex ran well. I thought John Kuhn played tough like he always does. But I thought James was a little cut above today. That’s why I went with him in the fourth quarter. I like what I see from our backs.”
(on Morgan Burnett’s interception in the third quarter) “Like I said in my opening statement, I thought Morgan Burnett’s interception in the end zone was the biggest play of the game. I thought our whole sideline turned after that. Halftime was not the best halftime that I have been a part of. Our guys were a little bit up and down when we came in. We just stuck to the adjustments and he gave us the boost. Morgan’s playing very well. He’s had big plays for us throughout the season. He’s showing good veteran leadership back there.”
PACKERS QUARTERBACK AARON RODGERS:
(on how the offensive line played after Lang’s injury) “I thought they did a good job. You’ve got to give Donny (Barclay) a lot of credit. Don Barclay stepped in, got his opportunity and made the most of it. I’m very proud of him. He’s a good kid, he’s really worked hard in training camp and put himself in position to not only make the team but be a contributor. We put him out there on different personnel packages and (we’re) excited for his opportunity. He was going up against a tough rusher today in Brian (Robison) and he did a good job.”
(on the offensive production in the second half) “Yeah I thought we got into a good rhythm there. We ran the ball more effectively than we have all season, a good combination of James Starks and Alex Green running the football, doing a nice job. I’m not sure what the final numbers were, but I think we had around 150-yards rushing, which probably hasn’t happened here in a while. That gave us some good balance.”
(on the 11-minute scoring drive) “We haven’t had one of those in a while. We haven’t been able to control the clock like that and it says a lot about the toughness of those guys. It wasn’t the prettiest drive. We made the most of our third-down opportunities.”
(on the Bears loss) “It puts us back in first (place in the division). I can’t say there’s many Seahawk fans in the locker room, but we appreciate the help.”
(on the James Jones TD catch) “It reminded me of a catch, what was it, Jacksonville or Arizona, one of the two – he had a similar catch where he went up over the guy and made the play. He’s made the most of his opportunities this year. I think that’s nine touchdowns for him. If not for a phantom call there, he probably would have had another one on the second drive, but James did a good job. (I was) disappointed last week not getting him any opportunities. Today he didn’t have, again, a ton of opportunities, but he made the most of them.”
(on the double-pass interception) “I was just trying to punt it in there, pin them back pretty good. I wanted to catch it first, that was important. And then as I was making the catch, I saw (Everson) Griffen coming my way. I think Josh (Sitton) made a nice block and gave me some room, and I just tried to put it out. I kind of ran out of arm a little bit there.”
(on the Vikings’ defensive strategy being similar to the Giants’ last week) “They played us very soft. Actually they mixed in some one-high in the first half and brought a couple pressures, but for the most part outside it was softer defenses and we did a good job running the ball. We blocked them up, the backs made the right cuts and put us in more manageable third down situations. We didn’t convert them every time, but we didn’t have as many third-and-11 plusses like we did last week.”
(on how important this division win was) “It was important. Everything is right in front of us, regardless of the Bears outcome today. We still have the Bears at Chicago and the division very well could come down to that meeting.”
(on if they compensated on offense for the line injuries) “Not really. We had a plan coming in we wanted to give those guys help regardless if it was T.J. (Lang). T.J., Marshall (Newhouse) and when Donny (Barclay) came in we wanted to help Donny out obviously, but it would have been the same plan if T.J. had not gotten hurt. Give Don a lot of credit. He did a good job, he grew up tonight and I’m really proud of him. He really does things the right way and works hard.”
(on having WR Greg Jennings back) “I think now, at this moment, he’s probably going to take Jordy’s (Nelson) reps. I’m not sure what Jordy’s situation is going to be, but I would guess that Greg would step kind of seamlessly back into that slot. Talking about the slot, Randall’s (Cobb) going to stay in the slot I would assume, and Greg will be outside for the most part. It’s nice to have him back. He’s a big-time player. He can make catches down the field. There were a couple plays where we were on the same page today, which is fun to get him back out there and still have the same feel that we had previous to the injury. He’s a big-time player, we’ve got to get him more opportunities.”
(on if this a gut-check type of game) “I think it definitely was a gut-check for us. At halftime, I think the thing you can say about our guys, there was no panic. Our defense shut them out in the second half, which ultimately gave us the win, but there was no panic on the offensive side.”
(on what the mood of the locker room was at halftime) “I thought it was a no-panic locker room. He (Coach McCarthy) maybe wanted some more yelling and screaming, but we have been typically in the last couple years not a big rah-rah team. We don’t need a lot of rah-rah speeches. Every team is different. In 2010, Charles (Woodson) was giving us a speech every week. This team is a different team, different makeup. I think there’s some leadership in the room. Guys understand situations and the other guys carry their load.”
PACKERS SAFETY MORGAN BURNETT:
(on his second interception) “It was a good defensive call. I trusted my technique. That put me in a position to make the play and coach always tells me to just trust your instincts. On that play, I just let my instincts take over and that’s what happened. I undercut the ball and came away with the pick.”
(on the team’s ability to create turnovers today) “Any time you can get a turnover and help your offense out, steal them an extra possession – that really helps out a lot. We did a great job of getting turnovers, and the offense did a great job of protecting the ball, so this game, we won the turnover battle. Any time you win the turnover battle, your chance of winning is pretty high.”
(on limiting the Vikings’ passing game) “Everyone stuck to their technique. Everyone communicated very well. Everyone did their job and no one got outside of their element. Everyone trusted that someone was there to help them in certain defenses. We all pulled together.”
PACKERS KICKER MASON CROSBY:
(on his confidence today) “I’m great. This team, we find ways to win. Even though my kicks might not all go through, and other things might happen on the field, we are finding ways to win and that’s what I did today. I found a way to bounce back after a miss right there at the end of the half and make some kicks that I needed to in the second half.”
(on his mindset following the miss before halftime) “We understand what needs to be done. I’ve got to go out there and make them happen – that’s what’s expected. As soon as I get back out in the second half I regroup and as soon as the ball leaves my foot, I move on to the next one.”
PACKERS LINEBACKER A.J. HAWK:
(on S Morgan Burnett’s interception in the end zone) “You can’t affect the game in a more positive way than picking them off in the end zone when they’re knocking on the door. That was huge. It took the momentum from them and we kind of ran with it after that.”
(on getting a key division win) “It’s good. We have a tough division. Every game is going to be like this. I think the NFC North is a fun division to be in as a linebacker. Every game is super physical, and I don’t think there are going to be many blowouts in the North.”
(on the offense’s 11-minute drive in the fourth quarter) “It was awesome. It was really fun to watch actually. I stand up and watch our offense all the time when they’re on the field. It was something special to see. Our offense is one of the best for a reason, and that drive was just huge and came at a big time for us.”
PACKERS WIDE RECEIVER GREG JENNINGS:
(on being back on the field following the injury) “It’s great to be back – great to be out there on the field and actually take some hits, run some routes, get winded a little bit and get dirty. It really felt good today.”
(on the 11-minute scoring drive in the fourth quarter) “That’s what it’s all about – making sure we can sustain drives, move the chains and keep our defense off the field. They’ve got a heck of a running back over there on the other side of the ball and it’s hard to contain that guy. We understand that, so the best way to contain him is to keep him off the field. It’s been a while since we’ve had a drive like that. That was pretty impressive. To get the first downs that we were able to get on third down, key conversions… I know (WR coach Edgar Bennett) will be excited about that since he’s our third-down guy. Overall, as an offensive unit, that drive was outstanding.”
(on the production from the Packers’ running game) “It keeps teams honest. We talk about who is the key to beating the cover two – it’s the run game. If you’re not running the ball well teams are going to be able to sit back and just put six in the box and that’s it.”
(on getting a key division win) “Division games are huge. We’ve got another one next week. Obviously we’re going to take this one and let it marinate a little bit. It’s a big win for us coming off that loss last week. We’re moving forward. Another division opponent is coming in next week in Detroit. They’re not going to take it easy on us, and we’re not going to take it easy on them.”
PACKERS CORNERBACK TRAMON WILLIAMS:
(on facing the Vikings’ running game) “They had a good day on the ground. We knew we had to stop (Adrian Peterson), we knew it was going to be tough, and it was. Obviously when they tried to pass the ball we kind of limited them from doing that. AP got his, no doubt about it, but we got the job done. Going against a back like that, you know explosive plays are going to come some way, somehow, whether it’s breaking tackles, whether it’s him just getting around the edge and going the whole way, he finds a way to get explosive gains. You’ve just got to get a bunch of guys to the ball and in the second half I think we did a better job of that.”
(on his unnecessary roughness call) “You all saw it. I didn’t see it. I just hit the guy. You can tell me better than I can tell you. You tell me what it looked like. I didn’t ask any questions. I know a clean lick when I do it myself.”
(on getting a key division win) “It’s big. Obviously whenever you play a division opponent it’s never easy, no matter how outsiders may see it. That was a good team coming in and we got another win under our belt, and that’s what counts.”
MINNESOTA VIKINGS HEAD COACH LESLIE FRAZIER:
(on the loss) “It was a very disappointing loss. We had some opportunities in this ballgame to put ourselves in a good position, and we came up short. Our guys played extremely hard. Green Bay was better; they beat us. Congratulations to them. It was just a tough loss.”
(on the offense) “We definitely want to improve our passing game. That is something that we will keep working to improve. You want to create a little bit of balance for sure, especially as well as we were running the ball. We need to create balance. We will keep working on that.”
(on the performance of Adrian Peterson) “It was a tremendous effort by Adrian today and our offensive line of opening up holes. I am just extremely proud of his attitude. He wants to win as much as anybody. That is the only accomplishment that he is concerned about. He is disappointed that we didn’t win. The fact that he ran for 210 yards is important, but not as important to him as the fact that we didn’t win this game. That is the beauty of Adrian Peterson; he is the total team guy.”
(on Christian Ponder) “Christian is our quarterback. We are going to do all we can to help him this week to have a good game against Chicago. When you are on the road, you really have to play clean football. It is hard to overcome turnovers on the road. We don’t have that margin of error on our team right now. Hopefully he and the rest of our team will learn that lesson.”
(on Green Bay’s defense) With all the man coverage that they played, we really felt going into the ballgame that we would be able to exploit some of the things that they were doing. We anticipated them playing a lot of single high, but obviously we didn’t take advantage.”
(on the playoff race) “We aren’t out of this thing by any means. We have a lot of veteran players who realize that things change every year, but at that same time they also know that we have the right people. There is no reason to panic.”
VIKINGS QUARTERBACK CHRISTIAN PONDER:
(on his performance) “This one definitely hurts. It is disappointing to go out and throw two interceptions. There were a couple of more plays besides that that I wish I could have back. All I can do is come back to work tomorrow and try to keep getting better. We just have to move on and put this one behind us.”
(on his first interception) “The number one rule as a quarterback is to not throw across your body across the middle of the field, especially when it is late in downs, and that is exactly what I did. I thought it was coming open and maybe I could have thrown a better ball, but I probably shouldn’t have thrown it at all.”
(on his second interception) “It was man coverage and we had it beat. I had to step up; I was a little late on the throw and I left it behind him. It is my job to throw it only where Kyle (Rudolph) can catch it, and I left it behind him. The guy (S Morgan Burnett) made a play.”
VIKINGS DEFENSIVE END JARED ALLEN:
(on the offsides penalties) “Just a lack of concentration on our part. Aaron (Rodgers) did a great job on a couple double-counts and got some of our guys, and that’s totally on us.”
(on the discrepancy of time of possession) “You know our job is to not let them score. I mean we had a four point lead at halftime. I don’t think we were as clean on third down as we would like to be in the second half. That’s what kept us on the field a little longer.”
(on the interceptions in the red zone) “They got two interceptions in the red zone and that negates points for us. Whether those are field goals and we have those six points, that’s a difference at the end of the game. Even if we get field goals, that gives us a shot to win it at the end of the game with two minutes.”
(on any adjustments made by Green Bay in the second half) “It was really only one series. They caught us on a couple tosses when they had a short field. Hats off to them, you know, you don’t really anticipate them calling those plays directly into a stunt. Other than that, they know how to move the chains and we just have to get off the field on third down.”
(on playing all season with a torn labrum) “Hats off to our training staff, I’ve been banged up a lot this year and I haven’t had to miss a practice for it. It probably happened last season, but it hasn’t limited me in anything from practice or anything like that.”
VIKINGS WIRE RECEIVER DEVIN AROMASHODU:
(on the turnovers today) “You can’t turn it over. We had some crucial turnovers in the red zone and we’ve got to bounce back and get it figured out.”
(on getting the receivers more involved in the offense) “We obviously just have to try to throw the ball a little bit more, maybe make a little bit more of our opportunities. But I think we tried to get the receivers involved and it just didn’t work out today.”
VIKINGS WIDE RECEIVER MICHAEL JENKINS:
(on the struggles of the offense) “It’s not just him (QB Christian Ponder). If you look at the interceptions, it could look like it’s his fault, but it’s not. It’s all of us. We never just want to put it on one guy.”
(on if he’s ever been a part of a receiving corp that struggled this much) “No, I mean nine years in, and I’ve never had it like this. We have to find a way to fix it if we want to make the playoffs.”
VIKINGS RUNNING BACK ADRIAN PETERSON:
(on the frustration of the loss today) “It’s very disappointing, especially the way we ran the ball today, and now you can look at it and say it was all for nothing.”
(on his success running the ball today) “I knew how critical this game was, and I just want to come out and put it on the line, and I can say that we did that. Our guys came out and played with passion. We just have to eliminate the turnovers and the penalties, and take advantage of the opportunities we had today.”
(on the momentum switching after the interception) “It hurts, man. You get down there in the red zone, guys are playing good ball, and then we turn it over. But guys responded and kept fighting.”
(on what he said to QB Christian Ponder after the game) “I told him if you keep playing with that passion that you showed today, despite those interceptions, we can win.”
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