Rodgers Celebrates Birthday With Return to First Place

All in all, it was a pretty good 29th birthday for Aaron Rodgers. He led the Pack to its tenth straight divisional win, saw the Bears (and 49ers) lose in overtime, unwrapped his favorite present, Greg Jennings, who returned after missing seven weeks and will go to sleep tonight in first place.

It wasn't all birthday cake and balloons, though. The Pack lost Jordy Nelson after a sideline catch in the first quarter, and then TJ Lang shortly thereafter with an ankle injury. Huge props to rookie free agent Don Barclay who stepped in at right tackle and held up very well. His run blocking was great and he kept Robison at bay. He may stick at right tackle, with Lang returning to his left guard spot when he's healthy. Mike McCarthy said after the game that the doctors didn't think Lang's injury was serious.

On a day when Adrian Peterson's greatness was on display for all to see, the Vikings couldn't take advantage. 210 yards, including his career long 82 yard TD run. You get a guy with 200 yards, you usually win. But Ponder was brutal, completing only nine passes all day until the last series of garbage time. His pick in the end zone by Morgan Burnett was the turning point of the game. The Pack took over and kept the ball for 11 minutes, running 18 plays. It ended with a Mason Crosby field goal, putting the Pack up by nine and putting the game on ice.

The defense pitched a shutout in the second half. I don't care who you are playing against. When you're playing without starters Matthews, Woodson, Wilson and Shields, that's an accomplishment. They got gouged by Peterson a few times, but harassed Ponder and kept the ball out of the hands of his suspect receivers.

Offensively, the line protected well--a huge improvement over last week. The Vikes didn't sack Rodgers till late in the fourth quarter, giving him time to convert some key third downs and helping the running game churn out 143 yards: exactly what this team will need in the last quarter of the season.

I'm sitting in a virtually empty Lambeau Field pressbox, getting set for the drive back home to Minnetonka. Pack beats the Vikes. Bears and Lions lose. 49ers lose. Vikes fans will be demanding a QB change on KFAN tomorrow. All in all, a good day at the office.


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