GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers got plenty of help. Adrian Peterson got none at all.
The Green Bay Packers won a key NFC showdown against division rival Minnesota 23-14 on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
With a win by the Packers (8-4) and a loss by Chicago (8-4), the Packers are tied for first place in the NFC North. The Vikings (6-6), meanwhile, are in deep trouble after losing for the fourth time in five games.
"Everything's right in front of us," Rodgers said. "We still have the Bears at Chicago and the division very well could come down to that meeting. We have Detroit next week. We've got to go win our home games and get a couple wins on the road."
Rodgers completed 27 of 35 passes for 286 yards with one touchdown and one interception but received a big helping hand from running backs Alex Green and James Starks, who combined for 124 rushing yards to help a balanced attack.
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, on the other hand, went about two-and-a-half quarters without completing a pass.
The Packers took a 20-14 lead with 2:12 remaining in the third quarter in unconventional fashion. Green Bay entered the game ranked 23rd in rushing, 25th in yards per carry and last with two rushing touchdowns. On a four-play, 51-yard drive, Green ran for 11 and 7 yards, Rodgers hit Greg Jennings for 11 and Starks ran around right end for a 22-yard touchdown.
The Vikings threatened on the ensuing possession, with Peterson's 23-yard run putting him over 200 for the day. On the next play, Ponder went deep to Toby Gerhart, with the ball falling incomplete, but Tramon Williams penalized for hitting a defenseless receiver.
With Packers coach Mike McCarthy livid on the sideline over the penalty, Morgan Burnett recorded his second interception of the day when he broke in front of a pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph on the final play of the third quarter.
"I thought Morgan Burnett's interception in the end zone was the biggest play of the game," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought our whole sideline changed after that."
Ponder said, "It was man coverage and we had it beat. I had to step up; I was a little late on the throw and I left it behind (Rudolph). It is my job to throw it only where Kyle can catch it and I left it behind him. The guy (Burnett) made a play."
The Packers ran the ball 10 times on an 18-play, 73-yard drive that took exactly 11 minutes off the clock, with Mason Crosby's 31-yard field goal making it 23-14 with four minutes to play.
That made for a daunting challenge for Ponder, who hadn't completed a pass since hitting Rudolph for a touchdown with 12:23 left in the second quarter.
Ponder had gone 0 of 5 with an interception to that point in the second half and hadn't completed a pass to a wide receiver in the entire game. Ponder hit a few passes but failed to convert a third down, and Blair Walsh missed a 42-yard field goal attempt on the final play before the two-minute warning to essentially end the game.
"It's very disappointing, especially the way we ran the ball today, and now you can look at it and say it was all for nothing," Peterson said after running for 210 yards on 21 attempts.
The Packers, coming off a 38-10, prime-time thumping at the New York Giants last week, bolted to a 10-0 lead. They marched 75 yards on the opening possession, aided by two offside penalties. On the second of those, Rodgers took advantage of a free play by hitting James Jones for a 32-yard touchdown on a jump ball over A.J. Jefferson.
Peterson turned the tide, either with the ball or on play-action fakes. Minnesota cut the margin to 10-7 early in the second quarter when Ponder, one play after losing 4 yards upon fumbling the snap, hit Rudolph for a 7-yard touchdown. Then, on third-and-1, Peterson rumbled 82 yards for a touchdown by breaking feeble tackle attempts by safeties Burnett and M.D. Jennings and cornerback Tramon Williams.
In between, the Packers' paper-thin offensive line suffered another blow when T.J. Lang injured his left ankle. Lang, normally the starting left guard, was filling in for Bryan Bulaga, who is out for the season with a hip injury. He was replaced by undrafted rookie Don Barclay.
Barclay was flagged for holding on his second possession -- a play in which Jared Allen grabbed a deflection for an interception, though that play was nullified by a roughing-the-passer call on Kevin Williams.
The Packers cut the margin to 14-13 on the first series after halftime. Crosby, statistically the worst kicker in the NFL, hit from 47 yards and received a standing ovation.
"I think it definitely was a gut check for us at halftime," Rodgers said. "I think the thing you can say about our guys, there was no panic, Our defense shut them out in the second half, which ultimately gave us the win, but there was no panic on the offensive side. When we had to have it there in the fourth quarter, we were able to put something together. That said a lot about the kind of guys we've got and the leadership we have."
NOTES: Peterson tied Emmitt Smith for the sixth fastest to 8,000 rushing yards, doing it in 85 games. Eric Dickerson was the fastest in 73 games, followed by Jim Brown in 80, Barry Sanders and Earl Campbell in 83 and Edgerrin James in 84. ... Packers Pro Bowl receiver Greg Jennings returned from a seven-game absence for an abdominal injury that required surgery on Nov. 1. His return, however, was mitigated when Jordy Nelson injured his hamstring on the second series of the game. ... Vikings WR Percy Harvin (ankle) and Packers WR Donald Driver (finger), OLB Clay Matthews (hamstring) and DB Charles Woodson (collarbone) were among the inactives. ... Ponder completed 3 of 13 passes to his wide receivers for 38 yards. ... The Packers hogged the ball for 38:30. ... Green Bay extended its franchise-record winning streak against division foes to 10 games. ... Rodgers has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 35 consecutive home games, the longest streak since Dan Marino did it in 30 in a row from 1983 through 1988.