Monday, January 3, 2022

Dominant Packers Claim Top Seed Against Vikings

 By Eric Goska

The Packers remain in the hunt for a Super Bowl trophy.
The Vikings do not.

Every previous playoff team in Green Bay’s illustrious history had at least one.

Finally, the Packers of 2021 got theirs.

The Green and Gold throttled the Vikings 37-10 Sunday night to conclude another unbeaten regular season at Lambeau Field. The victory assured Green Bay of the NFC’s No. 1 playoff seed, and it ended any chance Minnesota had of reaching the postseason.

For as well as the Packers played through the first 15 games of this season, they rarely if ever dominated. Not once did they forge a lead of 20 or more points.

Cause for concern? Who can say in this age of parity.

Rewind to 1921. The Packers crushed the Evansville Crimson Giants 43-6 to carve out their first lead of 20 or more points as professionals.

In 89 of the 99 seasons that followed, Green Bay jumped ahead by that many at least once. Even Ray (Scooter) McLean’s merry band of losers (1-10-1 in 1958) went ahead of the Eagles by 24, winning 38-35.

Prior to Sunday, Matt LaFleur’s outfit couldn’t make such a claim. His team’s biggest leads had been 19 against the Rams and 18 in victories over the Lions and Bears.

How convenient, then, that the short-handed Vikings rolled into town. Minus quarterback Kirk Cousins (reserve Covid-19 list), wide receiver Adam Thielen (ankle) and defensive tackle Michael Pierce (non-Covid illness), Minnesota couldn’t keep pace.

Davante Adams put Green Bay up 20-0 when he hauled in an 11-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers with one minute, five seconds remaining in the first half. AJ Dillon bumped the score to 27-3 with a 4-yard romp on the Packers’ first possession of the second half.

Green Bay then led by at least 20 for the final 24:28.

Statistically, this was an exercise in domination for other reasons.

  • The Packers (481) outgained the Vikings (206) by 275 yards, the greatest difference by either team in a rivalry that dates to 1961.
  • Green Bay held Minnesota to 27 rushing yards. Only twice before – 22 in a 13-10 loss in 1994 and 25 in a 26-7 victory in 1982 – had the Packers been tighter in that regard.
  • The Packers (29) recorded 18 more first downs than the Vikings (11), something they’ve managed just once before against Minnesota, that in a 34-0 shutout in 2007.

Noteworthy accomplishments, but perhaps the magnitude of this victory can be best measured by Minnesota’s all but non-existent ground game in the final two quarters. The numbers are so low, they rank among the weakest put up by any team against Green Bay in the last 67 years.

Minnesota earned minus-one-yard rushing on three carries in the second half. In the more than 1,000 games played by the Packers since 1954, only San Francisco (minus-5 in 1972) came away with fewer after intermission.

The Vikings didn’t even attempt to run in the fourth quarter. That makes them the 19th team since 1954 to abandon the run in the final 15 minutes against Green Bay, and the 19th to lose.

In the end, Green Bay needed to win by any margin – large or small – to earn a bye and a week of rest. That the victory morphed into a blowout against a troublesome rival only made the outcome all the more satisfying.

Packers playoff teams with the fewest regular-season games in which they owned a lead of 20 or more points.

No.         Year       Result
1              1972       Lost 16-3 to Washington in a divisional playoff game
1              2021       To be determined
2              1939       Won NFL championship
2              1982       Lost 37-26 to Dallas in a second-round playoff game
2              2013       Lost 23-20 to San Francisco in a wild card playoff game
2              2015       Lost 26-20 to Arizona in a divisional playoff game

Note: The team record for most games holding a lead of 20 or more points (regular season) is eight by the 1996 Packers who went on to win Super Bowl XXXI.


  1. Eric, if the Packers lost in the postseason at home, does the team bring Rodgers back ?

    1. Not sure what GB does, but personally, I'd like to see A-Rod back.