MINNEAPOLIS - After it was over at Mall of America Field, after the Green Bay Packers again proved, with their fourth consecutive victory, that they are still among the NFC's elite, they waxed nearly nostalgic about having played their last game in this stadium.
Coach Mike McCarthy said he saved his field pass, his last from this building. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he would miss it here.
And why not?
In their final game in the dome, the Packers made ridiculously easy work of a 44-31 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in a game that was, frankly, not nearly as close as the final score would indicate.
The Packers (5-2) essentially had their way while scoring their most-ever points here.
Rodgers? He entered the game with a career 116.4 passer rating vs. the Vikings in regular season games, and went on to complete 24 of 29 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns, both to wideout Jordy Nelson.
The Packers gained 464 yards in all, including 182 on the ground, converted on 13 of 18 third downs plays and both fourth-down attempts.
"I wasn't going to let this team beat us," said Rodgers, who just might have received some extra motivation from the back-and-forth with Vikings receiver Greg Jennings that occurred back in training camp.
After the game Rodgers dismissed the question. Jennings, the former Packer who signed with the Vikings as a free agent, was not available to reporters after making one catch for nine yards.
The Packers scored every time they touched the ball Sunday, until Rodgers took a knee to end it, and held that ball for an absurd 40:54 of clock time.
And that just didn't leave the Vikings (1-6) enough time to make a game of it.
The team's quarterback carousel returned to Christian Ponder, who made his first start in three games because of Josh Freeman's concussion-like symptoms. He completed 14 of 21 passes for 145 yards. He led two late scoring drives. But by then the game had been decided. And it wasn't enough to stop the Vikings from losing their third straight game. Not nearly enough on a night when Adrian Peterson (13 carries, 60 yards) was again less than dominant. Still, for all that, the Vikings' biggest problem, again, was its defense.
"I am embarrassed," said Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, who was held without a sack. "I have to keep saying it, trying to be as honest as I can. I have never been a part of something like this."
Early on it appeared this game might be interesting, when rookie return man Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff 109 yards for a score and a 7-0 Vikings lead; it was the second time this season Patterson had started a game this way.
But the Packers were unfazed. Indeed, with Rodgers nearly perfect, the Packers took the air out of the dome with a 14-play, 74-yard drive that ended with Rodgers' 11-yard touchdown pass to Nelson.
"I really liked the way we responded, with that 14-play drive," McCarthy said. "This is a tough place to play. I was very impressed with our football team tonight."
In the second quarter, the game tied 10-10, Rodgers hit Nelson for a 76-yard catch-and-run score. And then, moments later, Micah Hyde returned a Vikings punt 93 yards for a score and a 24-10 lead.
Minnesota responded with its best drive of the night, going 77 yards in eight plays to pull within 24-17 entering halftime on Peterson's eight-yard run.
But the Packers responded, again, scoring the first 17 points of the second half to put the game away.
"Tonight was tough," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "To not play better in third-down situations on defense, it hurts you. ... We need to give them some hope and do some things than what we're doing."
The Packers had five scoring drives of nine plays or more. They nearly doubled up the Vikings in yardage. Put that all together and you can see why the Packers felt some pangs of regret knowing they wouldn't play here again.
NOTES: Joey Browner, one of the best safeties in Vikings history, was inducted into the team's ring of honor at halftime. Drafted by the Vikings in the first round of the 1983 draft, Browner played for the team through the 1991 season, making the Pro Bowl six times. He was first-team All-Pro three times and was named a member of the NFL's all-80s team. ... The banged-up Packers were without linebackers Nick Perry (foot) and Brad Jones (hamstring) and receiver James Jones (knee) Sunday. That was in addition to linebacker Clay Matthews (thumb) and tight ends Jermichael Finley (back) and Ryan Taylor (knee), who were ruled inactive during the week. Andrew Quarless started for Finley, Jarrett Boykin for Jones, Mike Neal for Perry, Jamari Lattimore for Jones and Andy Mulmba for Matthews.