Vikings fall apart against Packers

Published 3:59 am Friday, October 3, 2014

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Christian Ponder was embarrassed. Coach Mike Zimmer struggled to find positives.

Nothing went right for the Minnesota Vikings in a 42-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.

Julius Peppers returned Ponder’s interception 49 yards for a touchdown, Aaron Rodgers threw for three scores, and Eddie Lacy ran for a season-high 105 yards and two touchdowns.

Email newsletter signup

The Packers led 28-0 after the first half played in a light rain. They essentially toyed with Minnesota the rest of the way.

“It’s hard to find a silver lining after tonight,” Zimmer said.

Peppers had the highlight-reel play in the second quarter after picking off a pass over the middle from Ponder, who was hit by tackle Luther Robinson as he released the throw.

The 34-year-old Peppers veered left across the field and waited for blocks before striding the final 10 yards along the sideline to make it 21-0 with 7:06 left in the second quarter.

Ponder finished 22 of 44 for 222 yards, but much of the damage came late with the game well in hand. He was sacked six times.

Ponder’s 6-yard touchdown run on the first play of fourth quarter ended the shutout.

Otherwise, this wasn’t what Ponder envisioned when he was called on to start with rookie Teddy Bridgewater sidelined by a sprained left ankle.

“Playing like that, you don’t have much to say. It was embarrassing,” Ponder said. “That’s not the way I expected to come out and play. Hats off to Green Bay. They played a great game but it’s not indicative of how we should have played.

“I feel bad that I put the team in this position. Point the finger at me.”

Peppers capitalized. After crossing over the goal line, Peppers stopped for a second in the end zone before safety Morgan Burnett came up and pointed at the stands.

Peppers, the Packers’ prized free agent acquisition in the offseason, took his first Lambeau Leap.

“It was actually pretty tough to get up there. I was pretty tired after that run, so I barely got up there. It was tough,” he said.

Peppers became the first player in NFL history with 100 sacks and 10 interceptions.

Things got worse for Ponder in the second quarter.

Jamari Lattimore intercepted Ponder’s pass over the middle on Minnesota’s next drive, setting up Rodgers’ 11-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams to give Green Bay a four-touchdown lead with 4:55 left in the first half.

Zimmer offered a blunt assessment of how Ponder performed.

“Not very well,” the coach said.

Bridgewater said he wanted to play, but that Zimmer was looking out for the team in going with Ponder.

If only this game was played on Sunday, Bridgewater may have had a shot.

“It would have allowed me more days to rehab and treat the injury,” Bridgewater said. “Unfortunately, today we played on a Thursday. It was a short week.”

The second half was a mere formality. Fans took delight in showering former Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings with boos whenever he touched the ball.

Jennings finished with two catches for 31 yards.

Rodgers was 12 of 17 for 156 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson.

Rodgers found Nelson off play-action, and the NFL’s leading receiver hauled in the pass at the 20. He easily outraced safety Harrison Smith into end zone for the Packers’ second touchdown.

Rodgers also connected with Randall Cobb for an 8-yard touchdown pass set up by three straight long runs by Lacy. Cobb scored his league-leading sixth touchdown of the season by beating defensive back Captain Munnerlyn.

“That was not football. We did not show up, we didn’t show up at all,” Munnerlyn said.

On offense, Minnesota rarely advanced past midfield. Its only venture across the 50 in the first half ended with Burnett forcing Matt Asiata to fumble after an 11-yard run, and Casey Hayward recovered the Vikings’ third consecutive turnover.

The Packers weren’t necessarily perfect, but they also never let up.

“I like the way it went tonight. Yeah, I’d take this,” coach Mike McCarthy said.

Minnesota had the most notable injury when receiver Cordarelle Patterson left with a hip injury early in the third quarter after making a 6-yard catch. For Green Bay, defensive lineman Datone Jones left in the second quarter with an ankle injury.