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Sunday Night Football audiences came for the Aaron Rodgers MVP-level performance and stayed for the tributes to the late, great John Madden.
With a 37-10 win, the Green Bay Packers sealed the No. 1 seed in the NFC postseason picture — defeating a Minnesota Vikings squad led by Sean Mannion on Sunday night. Minnesota starter Kirk Cousins entered the League’s COVID protocols on Friday.
The Packers played according to the expectations of the Vikings defensive staff: a scoring juggernaut spearheaded by the generational skill in Rodgers. Mannion’s Minnesota offense also played as expected: leading the Vikings to 206 total yards.
Mason Crosby knocked a field goal in the first quarter to go up 3-0.
A 20-yard toss from Rodgers to Allen Lazard with 4:11 left to go in the second put Green Bay up by 10. Rodgers did anything but ease his control over the Vikings defense.
Getting the ball back before the end of the first half, Rodgers’ connection with veteran Davante Adams started to heat up, capping the drive with an 11-yard touchdown, leaving only a minute left.
Desperate to stay afloat, Minnesota’s offense crossed the 50 in the final moments of the second quarter to set up placekicker Greg Joseph for a 51-yard attempt — which he completed, 20-3. Joseph’s kick sailed its way to the history books, becoming the longest distance for a made field goal at Lambeau in the month of January.
At the end of the halftime period, Green Bay came back to run up the score with a 4-yard touchdown by AJ Dillon and another made Crosby field goal. 30-3.
Aside from Greg Joseph, the only other player to show up for Minnesota’s offense was center Garrett Bradbury, who had an athletic catch off a bobbed catch by the tight end, Tyler Conklin.
Sean Mannion ended the drive, and the third quarter, with a 14-yard dart to receiver KJ Osborn for the score. 30-10.
Green Bay’s AJ Dillon wasn’t done for the game, plunging his way to a 7-yard rushing touchdown with 8:41 left in the fourth.
Third-round rookie out of Texas A&M Kellen Mond entered the game to relieve Mannion, as did Jordan Love with Rodgers. Mannion ended the night with 22-of-36 passing, 189 passing yards and a touchdown.
In his final home game of the regular season, Rogers completed 29-of-38 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Davante Adams recorded 136 yards on 11 catches and one touchdown. Adams set a single-season record for most catches in Packers history (117), surpassing his previous record of 115.
Minnesota’s sophomore standout receiver Justin Jefferson had a quiet evening with 58 yards on six receptions.
For the first time under head coach Mike Zimmer (71-52-1), the Vikings missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons.
MVP chants were out for Rodgers as the team cruised to victory — improving to 13-3 on the year.
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Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela