NFL: Packers 24, Vikings 19
By Chris Jenkins
GREEN BAY, Wis. ó Aaron Rodgers passed his first test as the Green Bay Packers’ new quarterback, throwing for 178 yards and a touchdown and scoring on a game-clinching sneak in a 24-19 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.
Rodgers, who was 18-of-22, got help from the Packers’ special teams, running back Ryan Grant and safety Atari Bigby to beat a bitter division rival in his first regular-season start, which came in the wake of Brett Favre’s offseason unretirement saga.
“I’m happy we won, and that he played well,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “That’s what’s important. I don’t really get caught up in all the other things. And it’s important for him not to, too.”
Will Blackmon’s 76-yard punt return gave Green Bay a 17-6 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Minnesota’s Tarvaris Jackson answered with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice on fourth-and-1 to cut the Packers’ lead to five with 14:12 remaining. But a 2-point conversion attempt failed when Jackson threw a pass slightly behind Rice in the back of the end zone.
Grant then broke free for a 57-yard run midway through the fourth quarter, giving the Packers (1-0) first-and-goal at the 2. After a penalty against the Vikings (0-1), Rodgers was stuffed on his first attempt at a quarterback sneak but plunged into the end zone on the second try.
Rodgers acknowledged he was happy to get his first start out of the way.
“Tonight, knowing I was going to get the first snap was pretty special,” Rodgers said. “And running out of the tunnel to the electric atmosphere that we had, it was a pretty special night.”
After scoring on the sneak, Rodgers emphatically spiked the ball and jumped into the stands for a “Lambeau Leap” as Green Bay took a 24-12 lead with 6:03 remaining.
“I’ve been dreaming about that for four years, to be honest,” Rodgers said.
Jackson then led the Vikings on an 11-play drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Adrian Peterson, cutting the Packers’ lead to 24-19 with 2:39 remaining.
An onside kick attempt by Ryan Longwell bounced out of bounds, giving the ball back to the Packers at their own 39. But the Packers had to punt, giving the ball back to Minnesota at its own 31 with 1:51 remaining. But Bigby intercepted Jackson to seal the win.