By Drew Olson Special to Published Sep 09, 2008 at 5:25 AM

GREEN BAY -- After watching their favorite team defeat rival Minnesota on "Monday Night Football" at Lambeau Field, many Packers fans are going to have to reach into their wallets.

It's not that they bet against the beloved Green and Gold.

It's just that they're going to have to add a No. 12 jersey to their collection of No. 4s. With dozens of fans modeling Brett Favre merchandise -- in both Wisconsin and New York shades of green -- Rodgers went out in his first NFL start, completed 81.8 percent of his passes, made smart decisions, ran when he had to, smiled a lot and took a Lambeau Leap into the South End Zone.

"I thought he managed the game, especially starting in the number of unfavorable down and distances that we had, particularly early in the game with all the penalties," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

Rodgers, who has carried himself with a quiet confidence while the Favre fiasco careened around him, was as composed in the interview room as he was on the field.

"You keep reminding yourself it was just one win, but it was a big one," Rodgers said. "A lot of the talk this week was about the Vikings and not the kind of football team we have. We're a good football team that beat a good team. It was important to believe we can get things done."

Though they were sloppy in some areas, particularly penalties and fundamentals, the Packers deserved the victory over a team that is regarded by many as a championship contender.

Here are a handful of observations, some coherent and others half-baked, from opening night at Lambeau:

  • Over the past few years, Packers fans got used to watching Favre try to make something out of nothing by forcing passes into tight coverage. Rodgers resisted that temptation on Monday and unveiled a weapon Favre hasn't had in his arsenal for a few years: The ability to run for first downs.
  • Rodgers showed excellent speed and judgment with his running, but it's a safe bet that his coaches will want him to be judicious about it.
  • The crowd of 71,004 was the largest for a regular-season game at Lambeau Field.
  • New punter Derrick Frost, who replaced Jon Ryan on the Packers roster and was considered a gamble by many fans, showed why management liked him. He has a quick release and punts well directionally, which allowed for tight coverage.
  • The "GU 63" painted at midfield near the sideline is a tribute to Hall of Fame lineman Gene Upshaw, the president of the players union, who died before the season.
  • The Jets haven't sold this much merch since Joe Namath played for them. It was stunning how many Brett Favre / Jets jerseys there were in the house. I don't know if people are buying them online or at stores, but I'd like to have a piece of that action.
  • I ran into a young British guy named Adam, who told me he is visiting 35 football games in the U.S. this fall and chronicling his adventures on
  • My gut tells me that Rodgers did not bother to watch Favre's debut with the Jets, who beat the Dolphins Sunday in Miami. I'm reasonably sure that Favre was watching Monday night, though.
  • The penalties in the first half, heck for much of the game, were ridiculous. Raise your hand if you'd heard of the "leverage" penalty before Monday night.
  • Antonio Freeman and Robert Brooks were behind the Packers bench and get a rousing ovation when introduced during a time out.
  • The sports-talk shows in Minneapolis are undoubtedly criticizing Tavaris Jackson today. From this vantage point, he looks like a promising quarterback with guts, poise, pocket presence, mediocre (at best) receivers and a coaching staff that doesn't know how to exploit one of the best running backs in the league (Adrian Peterson). Here is hoping Jackson gets new coaches or a change of address.
  • Key injury of the game? Vikings offensive lineman Artis Hicks, filling in for suspended starter Bryant McKinney, hurt his elbow. The Packers pressured Jackson heavily after Hicks left.
  • Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell, the leading scorer in Packers history, is booed at Lambeau. It reminds me of Brewers fans booing Paul Molitor when he was with Toronto.
  • Rodgers' 56-yard pass to Greg Jennings set up a touchdown and made you think there will be some special moments between these two playmakers.
  • Press box highlight of the night? The referee's microphone was on during a time out. He was joking with a co-worker about "knocking his ass over" and dropped an expletive, drawing guffaws from the media. The stadium PA was blaring music, so the crowd missed it.
  • The Packers' decision to abandon a final play at the end of a half and try for a field goal was curious, even before Mason Crosby saw his kick blocked.
  • Thanks in large part to Will Blackmon's punt return touchdown, the Vikings held the ball for nearly 13 minutes in the third quarter. That's normally not a recipe for success. Hats off to Blackmon, who overcame two years of foot injuries and could be the most threatening Packers return man since Alan Rossum. Key blocks on the play by Jarrett Bush and Jason Hansen helped paved the way.
  • Nick Collins crawled off the field, prompting me to think he was hurt. He had the wind knocked out of him and returned shortly.
  • Atari Bigby probably should have fallen down after his clinching interception. You can bet the coaches will remind him of that.
  • During the run-up to the game, Jared Allen, the Vikings' big free-agent pickup, trash-talked about putting a helmet in Rodgers' spine. Allen didn't record a single tackle.
  • The Packers are high on running back Brandon Jackson, but he still gives you the impression that he could fumble at any time.
  • Green Bay's ancient corners -- Al Harris and Charles Woodson -- held up pretty well in their season debut.
Drew Olson Special to

Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.