MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — If this were indeed Brett Favre’s final Packers-Vikings game, Aaron Rodgers sure made it clear who’s in charge of this rivalry right now.
Rodgers threw for 301 yards, with three of his four touchdown passes going to Greg Jennings. He beat Favre for the second time this season and sent Green Bay to a 31-3 victory over melting-down Minnesota on Sunday.
The Packers (7-3) emerged fresh from their bye week and kept pace in the NFC North race with the Chicago Bears (7-3), ruining any realistic hope the Vikings (3-7) had left to give Favre another shot at a playoff run in his 20th NFL season.
“I hate to use Jim Mora’s comments about playoffs, but we can’t think about that,” Favre said.
Instead, this 100th meeting between these border-state rivals, likely the last for the 41-year-old Favre, was marked by costly turnovers, untimely penalties and even some sideline shouting by the frustrated Vikings to cast further doubt on coach Brad Childress’s future with the team.
“I can’t really talk about that, because that’s not my decision going forward,” Childress said.
The coach said he didn’t think the Vikings quit, but some players wondered aloud whether everyone’s effort was there.
“The score could indicate that, but again without watching the film I don’t know,” Favre said.
Favre insisted he’s committed to the team despite failing to directly answer questions about whether he wants to finish the season.
“I’m here, and we’re in this thing together,” Favre said.
Tramon Williams intercepted Favre to stop a long Vikings drive, and Rodgers took the Packers the other way for a touchdown to James Jones in the final minute of the first half to give the visitors a 17-3 lead. Favre and close friend Darrell Bevell, the offensive coordinator, were seen on TV snapping at each other on the sideline after the interception.
The “Go Pack Go!” cry from the Wisconsin transplants and travelers grew louder as the game went on, with Vikings fans getting in a few “Fire Childress!” chants for good measure.
“I need to say a big thank you to our fans,” Rodgers said.
Wide receiver Sidney Rice made his season debut for the Vikings after missing the first nine games following hip surgery, finishing with three catches for 56 yards. But his return hardly gave Favre and the offense a spark. Favre finished 17 for 38 for 208 yards, sailing several passes over the heads of his receivers and facing heavy pressure most of the game.
He gave Packers coach Mike McCarthy a quick hug and walked off the field to several more handshakes.
Favre, who threw a career-low seven interceptions last season, has 17 of them this year. Opponents have taken his 22 turnovers and turned them into 71 points over 10 games, and the Vikings — who entered the weekend last in the NFL in giveaway-takeaway ratio — watched their turnover differential fall to minus-13.
With 10 players and five starters lost for the season on injured reserve, plus a stiff second-half schedule featuring a trip to NFC-leading Atlanta next week, McCarthy and the Packers have plenty of work in front of them.
But the steam and swagger they regained in their 28-24 win over the Vikings on Oct. 24 is making them look more like the Super Bowl contender they were purported to be this summer. The Dom Capers defense has yielded just 10 points in three games since beating the Vikings the first time.
“We’ve got a foot on the gas, hands on the wheel and we’re looking straight ahead,” McCarthy said. “That’s what you have to do in November.”
The Vikings pressured Rodgers early the way they needed to, the way they did last season, after failing to take him down at all in last month’s loss. But he found a rhythm once the strong rush forced him from the pocket and delivered at just the right times.
Rookie cornerback Chris Cook had a rough game, getting beat for a 39-yard reception by Jones on third-and-10 from midfield. Safety Husain Abdullah had trouble, too, dropping a must-have interception at the goal line and then letting Jennings get in front of him on the next play for an 11-yard touchdown catch after Rodgers ran left to flee the rush to make it 10-3.
Then after the interception by Williams and the response from Rodgers right before the half, it took less than three minutes after halftime for the Packers to put the game away. Rodgers found Jennings wide open up the sideline, and he jogged in for a 46-yard pass and a three-touchdown lead. The Vikings defense was a mess, with Cook seen shouting at Ray Edwards and Ben Leber on the bench.
The Vikings couldn’t do anything right at that point. Jim Kleinsasser’s holding penalty wiped out Ryan Longwell’s 51-yard field goal on the next possession, and they punted instead.
NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Eric Nelson Reports
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