It was the bounce-back game that the Green Bay Packers desperately needed. After three consecutive losses, the Packers now find themselves back atop the NFC North.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Packers’ 30-13 victory over the Minnesota Vikings:
1. Scoring 30 points on offense
Green Bay went nearly two months without putting at least 30 points on the board in a single game. Recent outputs have included 17 points in San Francisco, 24 against the Rams, 27 against San Diego, 10 in Denver, 29 in Carolina (though 15 of those came late against a prevent-style defense) and 16 against Detroit.
That’s a far cry from last season when the Packers led the NFL by averaging 30.4 points per game.
It wasn’t a perfect day offensively for Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes (he finished 16 for 34) is usually a recipe for trouble. Efficiency wasn’t great, nor was the Packers’ ability to have success on key third-down plays. That’s why Green Bay had to settle for scoring half of its points on field goals.
Still, scoring 30 points usually equates to a Packers win, and that’s exactly what happened.
2. Eddie Lacy reemerges
Between Oct. 5 and Nov. 21, Lacy rushed for a total of 78 yards.
One of the more perplexing situations in Green Bay this season has been Lacy’s struggles. He went from the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 to arguably a top-five running back in 2014. By the midpoint of this season, Lacy had become a backup to James Starks.
Sunday in Minnesota, though, Lacy looked like his old self. He was running through defenders, spinning out of attempted tackles and churning out extra yards after contact.
Lacy finished with 22 carries for 100 yards (4.5 average) and had a 27-yard run. Given the inefficiency of the Packers’ passing offense in this game, Lacy’s production on the ground was crucial to the outcome.
3. James Jones is back
While on the topic of players who had disappeared in recent weeks only to show up Sunday with a terrific performance, Jones was instrumental to Green Bay’s victory.
Jones looked every bit like the savvy veteran that Ted Thompson hoped to see when the two sides got back together before the start of this season. While a younger player like Davante Adams is still learning the finer points of the game, Jones had a couple catches that showed why he still has value as a 31-year-old, twice-released wide receiver.
Jones’ touchdown catch, in which he somehow dragged both feet inbounds while securing a catch that had no room for error, was a thing of beauty.
In the first three games after the Packers’ bye, Jones combined to have three catches for 59 yards and zero touchdowns. Rodgers can’t realistically expect Jones to have the six receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown every weekend like he did in this game, but this was the type of performance that was very much needed from the veteran of the receiver group.
4. Grounding Adrian Peterson
Most of Green Bay’s defensive starters have had several looks at Peterson over his career. That is likely helpful when it comes to game-planning to stop the future Hall of Famer.
But holding Peterson to 45 yards on 13 carries? That’s usually reserved only for the dreams of a defensive coordinator. Dom Capers got to live that experience for real Sunday.
In the Vikings’ three previous games, Peterson had a total of 431 yards. It doesn’t get more dominant than that.
With a very strong group effort, the Packers forced Peterson into having one of his worst games of the season.
5. Mason Crosby delivers huge kicks
Crosby deserves a game ball for his performance. The final score of 30-13 might indicate that making a couple extra field goals wouldn’t have changed the outcome, but that would be ignoring the flow of the game.
Crosby was presented with field-goal attempts of 42, 47 and 40 yards in the first half. He drilled each of them. Green Bay didn’t score its first touchdown until there were only six seconds left before halftime.
Had Crosby missed any of those field-goal attempts, it would’ve drastically changed field positioning. So, not only would the Packers have had three, six or nine points less on the scoreboard, Minnesota would’ve taken over on offense past the 30-yard line rather than receiving a kickoff.