The Green Bay Packers are playing nearly flawless football at exactly the right time. On Saturday night, the Packers turned aside the division rival Minnesota Vikings by a final score of 24-10 in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs. The final score makes the game look much closer than it really was.
The game changed for the Packers before it started. Minnesota announced that quarterback Christian Ponder would be inactive because of an elbow injury. Ponder gave it the old college try before the game, but was not effective putting the ball more than 15 yards down field. Unfortunately for the Vikings, neither was backup Joe Webb.
There were actually more than a few speculating that the introduction of Webb might be wild card enough to confuse the Packers' defense. Those people were horribly wrong. Webb completed a measly 9-for-27 of his passes for a stunning total of just 127 yards. It was a minor miracle that Webb was only picked off once with errant mistakes like throwing the ball straight up into the air -- twice! -- while being sacked.
That beauty was from the first half of the game, and it didn't get any better for the Vikings. Webb did find Michael Jenkins in the fourth quarter, with some help from a blown coverage, for a 50-yard touchdown.
Lost in the contrasting quarterback duel was the performance of Green Bay's defense. Sure, stopping Joe Webb mostly required waiting for him to throw the ball, but Dom Capers had his troops well prepared to stop Adrian Peterson. The all-world running back gashed the Packers for more than 400 yards in two games during the season. He finished the night with 99 yards on 22 carries.
Rodgers, meanwhile, etched his name into the team's history books. His touchdown pass in the third quarter gave him 16 playoff touchdown passes, moving ahead of Bart Starr into second place for most postseason touchdowns. At his current rate, he should eclipse Brett Favre for the franchise record next week in San Francisco.
Box Score Hero: Rodgers, of course. He picked apart a tough Vikings defense with surgical precision, completing 23-of-33 passes for 274 yards and a touchdown.
Injury Report: It was a quiet night for both team's training staffs.
Did They Cover? Green Bay was favored by 11 points, according to OddsShark. With a 14-point margin, Green Bay left room to spare.
Next: Green Bay travels to San Francisco for a date with the second-seeded 49ers next Saturday. The 49ers and Packers played in Week 1 of the regular season. The Packers lost that one, 30-22, but many, many things have changed since September.