The Green Bay Packers used an early second half surge Sunday to pull away from the Minnesota Vikings to run their record to a perfect 7-0. The 33-27 win featured some excellent performances and, still, a handful of performances that will need fine tuning as the Packers enter their bye week. Here are both:
Stud: Aaron Rodgers: It’s almost becoming uneventful watching Rodgers work in the Packers’ offense. It’s fun and the results have been near perfect, but it’s to the point where it’s a surprise when a Packers’ drive doesn’t end in points. Rodgers was simply unstoppable Sunday, completing 24 of 30 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his incompletions were drops (by Randall Cobb and James Starks) and another came on a clocked ball at the end of the first half. His decision making is impeccable and he has firmly planted himself as the league’s best signal caller.
Dud: Randall Cobb: His 42-yard punt return was a thing of beauty, but Cobb had two costly drops that cost the Packers points. The Vikings turned his muffed punt return late in the first quarter into seven points, and the rookie’s drop in the second quarter could have gone for a score, but at the very least stalled a drive on third down. He wasn’t terrible Sunday, but he cost the team points in what ended up being a six-point contest.
Stud: Charles Woodson: The Packers’ veteran cornerback has feasted on rookie quarterbacks, intercepting Christian Ponder twice in the win. In Week 2, Woodson picked off Carolina rookie Cam Newton. Both interceptions were the result of perfect timing, almost luring Ponder into throws that resulted in turnovers. Woodson still has it.
Dud: Erik Walden: It’s a shame Frank Zombo can’t stay healthy and Brad Jones hasn’t panned out, because Walden isn’t the answer opposite Clay Matthews. It’s not easy for anyone to stop Adrian Peterson, but Walden took too many risks that resulted in long plays and has horrid in pass coverage. The Packers have been able to hide him for now, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Ted Thompson look at a replacement next April.
Stud: James Starks: Now that’s how you finish a game! Starks ran six times for 55 yards on the game’s final drive to seal the win for the Packers, further stating his case for the feature role in Green Bay’s offense. He ran strong, fought off tacklers and made a few shifty moves to pick up extra yards. He runs harder than Grant right now and should see the majority of carries in those types of situations going forward.
Dud: Third down defense: Here’s a dud stat for the defense — the Vikings were 9-for-16 on third downs. That is far too many conversions to give up against a rookie quarterback. The Packers got to Ponder and forced him to make mistakes, but the third down rate needs to be impressed. The Packers’ offense is far too talented to keep them on the sideline for longer than they need to be.
Stud: Clay Matthews: There was a time when everyone was excited to watch Matthews put his head down and try and get to the quarterback, any way that he could. But a more veteran Matthews has rounded out his game and is just as good at stopping the run and dropping into coverage. He filled up the box score Sunday, finishing with six tackles (two TFL), a sack, and a pass defended. This was one of Matthews’ best all-around games, which is becoming more of a commonality.
Honorable mention studs: Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Jarrett Bush
Dud of the day: Brian Robison, DE, Minnesota: For his kick to the groin on Packers’ offensive lineman T.J. Lang. Many have said that Robison is not a dirty player, but this was something he knowingly did and intended to kick Lang in the man region. This wasn’t a heat-of-the-moment swing or push. Totally classless move from a team with one win.