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Packers neutralize Peterson, beat Ponder-less Vikings
Green Bay, WI (Sports Network) - Aaron Rodgers threw for a touchdown and the Green Bay Packers took advantage of a short-handed Vikings team to oust Minnesota from the playoffs, 24-10, in an NFC Wild Card game at Lambeau Field.
John Kuhn had a rushing and receiving score for the Packers, who will play at San Francisco next Saturday at 8 p.m. ET in the divisional round.
Rodgers completed 23-of-33 passes for 274 yards and the Packers tied a postseason NFL record by having 10 players make a reception.
"Our defense played great," Rodgers said. "Our defense tonight played at a championship level and that's what you need in the playoffs."
The Vikings played without starting quarterback Christian Ponder, who was inactive due to a right elbow injury. Ponder was hurt last Sunday in a regular season-ending 37-34 win over the Packers when he was hit by safety Morgan Burnett on a blitz.
"It just wouldn't have been smart to put him at risk," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "It wasn't the right thing to do."
Joe Webb, who had taken just three snaps all season, started in Ponder's place and was erratic through the air. A sixth-round draft pick in 2010, Webb completed 11-of-30 passes for 180 yards with a TD and an interception. He also had seven carries for 68 yards.
Adrian Peterson, who rushed this season for 2,097 yards, the second-most in a season in NFL history, had 99 yards on 22 carries. Peterson ran for 199 yards and a TD in the regular season finale.
"Adrian Peterson does a great job at extending runs. I thought our defense was extremely disciplined. It was a big factor tonight," Vikings coach Mike McCarthy said.
Prior to Saturday, Webb's other three snaps came at the end of a blowout win over Tennessee in Week 5. Webb rushed twice for a total of 22 yards during the game-opening drive. Peterson carried the ball six times and Blair Walsh kicked a 33-yard field goal.
But it was all Packers after that until Minnesota scored a late TD in the final quarter.
The Vikings didn't record a passing first down until the third quarter and had just six net yards through the air in the first half. By that time, the NFC North champions had a 17-3 lead.
Minnesota's offense didn't cross the Green Bay 35 in the second half until Webb's 50-yard TD strike to Michael Jenkins with 3:39 remaining.
The Packers grabbed a 7-3 lead after culminating an 11-play, 82-yard drive with a 9-yard run from DuJuan Harris with 28 seconds left in the first quarter. He was ruled down inside the 1, but the call on the field was reversed after McCarthy threw the challenge flag. Harris was able to stretch the ball over the plane of the goal line before his knee touched the ground.
The Vikings made a big defensive stand late in the second quarter and limited the Packers to a 20-yard field goal from Mason Crosby with 3:25 left. Greg Jennings had a 32-yard reception down the left sideline to the 2, but after Jermichael Finley dropped a pass in the back of the end zone on second down, Kuhn was stopped short of the goal line for the second time in three plays.
Kuhn, though, did reach the end zone with 38 seconds to go in the half on a 3- yard run. Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson twice in the final two minutes, the latter when the 2011 NFL MVP rolled to his right and threw perfectly to the 3 along the right sideline for a 23-yard gain. Two plays later, Kuhn crashed off right guard for a score.
The Packers had 11 first downs passing in the first two quarters, while Webb was 3-of-12 for 22 yards in the opening 30 minutes.
The initial passing first down for the Vikings came with nearly eight minutes left in the third, but by that time the Packers were three touchdowns in front. That's because Rodgers capped a 12-play, 80-yard trek to start the second half with a 9-yard TD pass to Kuhn for a 24-3 cushion. The score came on the play immediately after the Vikings were whistled for 12 men on the field during a field goal attempt.
Webb finally connected with Jerome Simpson for 13 yards for a first down. But on 4th-and-3 later in the drive, Clay Matthews sacked Webb, stripped the ball away and came up with the recovery at the Green Bay 45.
Webb's inaccuracy throughout the game was evident, and his deep pass to Devin Aromashodu was picked off by Sam Shields at the Green Bay 8 in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
Only 61 seconds into the fourth, Marcus Sherels dropped Tim Masthay's punt, but the Packers couldn't take advantage of the good field position following the miscue.
Webb threw incomplete on 4th-and-4 from the Green Bay 43 with 6 1/2 minutes left, but following a punt, the Vikings got within two TDs when Webb found Jenkins alone down the right sideline.
Green Bay recovered the ensuing kickoff at the 20 and ran out most of the remaining time.
"They played some good defense," said Peterson, who also gained 210 yards on the ground in the first meeting on Dec. 2. "They played more patient defense. They stayed on the backside to take away the cutback and they played slower instead of being real aggressive and over-pursuing plays. With that, they were able to bottle up the run game."
The 49ers, the NFC West champions, had lost eight straight times to the Packers, including the playoffs, before beating Green Bay in the first week of this season at Lambeau Field ... Green Bay entered Saturday night with losses in lost four of its previous six home playoff games. That included a 31-17 defeat to the Vikings in the wild card round in the 2004 season ... Packers defensive back Charles Woodson returned from a nine-game absence due to a broken collarbone and had four tackles... Webb is the first QB who didn't throw a pass in the regular season to start an NFL postseason game since at least 1950.
01/06 00:44:53 ET