Sunday Spotlight: Vikings hold off late Packers comeback

Aside from the Lambeau boos, and the overcooked storylines, and the "Man O' the People, coming off his tractor to save the NFL" garbage, there was a game to play in Green Bay, and it had some pretty serious division ramifications. Early on, it looked like the Packers forgot about that -- Brett Favre(notes) carved up their pressure-proof defense, and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers(notes) was sacked four times in the first half alone. The Vikings and their Mississippi Queen went to the visitors' locker room at halftime with a 17-3 lead, and pumped it up to 24-3 early in the third quarter when Favre threw his second touchdown pass of the day to Percy Harvin(notes). It looked as if the Pack were going to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation.

But Green Bay scored the next 17 points unanswered, as adjustments were made to the protection schemes in order to keep Rodgers upright, and the defense got stronger, and Rodgers started hitting his targets. Greg Jennings(notes) and Donald Driver(notes) combined for 14 catches and 147 yards, and the Pack got within five points late in the fourth quarter, 31-26, after missing a two-point conversion. Favre's Vikings went six-and-out on their next drive, and Green Bay had a chance to pull it out. Didn't happen, Even when Rodgers completed a long pass to Donald Driver under extreme duress and was gifted with an extra 15 yards courtesy of Ray Edwards'(notes) roughing-the-passer penalty with 7:33 left in the game, the home team couldn't capitalize. A sack, an incomplete pass, and a missed field goal followed.

Then, the Vikings proved that they simply had more talent on their roster with their final scoring drive. A quick screen to Adrian Peterson netted 44 yards, down to the Green Bay 15, as no Packers defender had an answer for Peterson's downfield motion. Two plays later, Favre hit Bernard Berrian(notes) for the touchdown that put the game out of reach at 38-26. Rodgers followed with a series of desperate incompletions, and it was over.

Quite simply, the Packers aren't in the Vikings' league. They have major issues along their offensive line, they are incapable of putting together a consistent running game, and their defense, while occasionally dynamic, can be burned by speed and sheer physical talent in a way that elite defenses aren't. It may not seem faithful to the Green Bay faithful that Favre could manipulate the situation and wind up on a ready-made team, but there are more important things to worry about. The Packers have some work to do through the season, and into the offseason, before they can challenge this Vikings team.