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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, July 25, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

Packers fans were in the mood to celebrate Monday night at Lambeau Field.

Packers 45, Vikings 7: The good, the bad and the ugly


GREEN BAY -- The Packers keep on rolling, clobbering the Minnesota Vikings 45-7 Monday night at Lambeau Field. Most franchises have never had this kind of a start to the season; for the Packers, this is the fourth time they have begun 9-0, having turned the trick in 1929, 1931, and 1962. The superlatives go on and on, but the bottom line is the Vikings were simply overmatched in every facet of the game - with one notable exception, which we'll get to in a moment.

As the weeks go on, it becomes apparent that the Packers are primed to make a return trip to the Super Bowl, provided they can keep the opposition off of their MVP candidate quarterback.

Monday night, as is always the case, there are things to build on, things to learn from, and things that never should have ever polluted our senses.

With that, I give you the good, the bad, and the ugly from Monday night's Packers win.

The Good:

You cannot sugarcoat it: there are a ton of things that went right for this Packers team Monday night. I will get to another incredible effort by the player that may walk off with every single-season record in a moment, but that isn't what stands out to me the most by a long shot.

Dom Capers won't ever say that he had something to prove on Monday night, but his much-maligned defense had their most complete game of the season, stifling the Minnesota offense to just 266 total yards. Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder regressed after getting harassed early and often by the Packers pass rush, with Clay Matthews registering his fourth and fifth sacks of the season.

"It feels good to get sacks," Matthews said afterwards. "It's good anytime you get sacks, it's momentum-changing and it's great for your offense and defense to feed off of."

Ponder only completed 16 of 34 passes for 190 yards and one interception, but it could have been much worse. Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson had a chance to register one interception late in the first quarter, but couldn't hang on as the pass slipped through his hands; another should have been run back for his twelfth career return for a touchdown, but he may have seen pay dirt before he actually saw the ball, as it slipped through his hands harmlessly to the turf.

"I think we set the standard for the rest of the year," Woodson said. "We showed ourselves how well we can play. We just have to keep it up and stay focused."

In part because of Green Bay's quick early lead, Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson was somewhat neutralized, finishing with just 51 yards on 14 carries; 10 of those carries and 46 of those yards came in the first half. Considering that Peterson cut through the Packers defense like a hot knife through butter three weeks ago to the tune of 175 yards that is a significant victory in and of itself.

Anytime you can give the Packers offense an early lead that falls in the "good" category as well. Randall Cobb became the first rookie in franchise history to run both a kick and a punt all the way back for a touchdown when he scampered 80 yards for a score after the Packers stopped the Vikings on the game's first series. Cobb has given the Packers an added dimension on special teams that had been lacking for a number of years.

And then there was Aaron Rodgers.

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