Packers atop division after 23-14 win over Vikes
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers are back atop the NFC North, and they have a very unlikely source to thank.
Minutes after the Packers wrapped up their 23-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon, Seattle beat Chicago in overtime to drop the Bears back into a tie with Green Bay for the division lead.
Yes, that would be the same Seattle team that stole a win from the Packers (8-4) earlier this season with the Inaccurate Reception.
"I can't say there are many Seattle fans in the locker room," Aaron Rodgers said, "but we appreciate the help."
The Packers and Bears each play three of their last four against NFC North opponents, including a Dec. 16 matchup at Soldier Field that might well decide the division title.
"Everything's right in front of us," Rodgers said. "We've got to go win our home games and get a couple wins on the road."
The Vikings (6-6), meanwhile, have ground to make up after falling a game behind Seattle in the race for the second NFC wild card. Not even a monster day by Adrian Peterson was enough to lift the Vikings, who lost for the fourth time in five games.
Peterson had a career-long 82-yard touchdown run and finished with 210 yards rushing, his most since tearing his ACL almost a year ago. But Morgan Burnett picked off Christian Ponder twice in the red zone in the second half, and Minnesota went scoreless after taking a 14-10 lead into halftime.
"He ran for 210 yards — that's important — but it's not as important to him as the fact that we didn't win the game. That's the beauty of Adrian Peterson. He's a total team guy," Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier said. "It's just disappointing that we couldn't win when he had such a great day in this environment.
"You want to see him celebrate, but it's hard to celebrate after today's loss."
Ponder's job appears secure despite the loss. Frazier said he didn't consider making a switch during the game and he doesn't plan to this week, either.
"We can win with the personnel that we have," Frazier said. "We've shown that we can. We just have to do a few things better. There's no reason to panic."
With Green Bay's offense trying to find its rhythm after injuries to No. 2 receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring) and offensive lineman T.J. Lang (ankle), Peterson's 82-yard run gave the Vikings a 14-10 lead at halftime. He put the Vikings in great position to pad that lead, ripping off a 48-yarder on the first play of the second half that gave Minnesota the ball at the Green Bay 12.
But two plays later, Ponder got flushed out of the pocket. Rather than take the sack or run out of bounds, he heaved the ball into the end zone —right into Burnett's hands.