Oct 2, 2014 10:56 PM
Packers lead Vikings 42-7 early in 4th quarter
The Associated Press
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Julius Peppers returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown, Aaron Rodgers threw for three scores, and the Green Bay Packers led the Minnesota Vikings 42-7 early in the fourth quarter Thursday night.
Dropped back in coverage, Peppers picked off a pass over the middle from a pressured Christian Ponder. The 34-year-old Peppers veered left across the field and waited for blocks before chugging the final 10 yards along the sideline to give Green Bay a 21-0 lead with 7:06 left in the second quarter.
Peppers, the Packers' prized free-agent acquisition, stopped for a second in the end zone before safety Morgan Burnett came up and pointed at the stands. Peppers took his first Lambeau Leap.
Peppers became the first player in NFL history with 100 sacks and 10 interceptions.
Things only got worse for Ponder, who started at quarterback with rookie Teddy Bridgewater out with a sprained left ankle.
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 half.
Rodgers and the rest of the offense essentially toyed with Minnesota the rest of the way.
A holding penalty during a long incomplete pass on the Packers' first drive of the third quarter pushed Green Bay back to the 35. The Packers ran nearly the exact same on second-and-17, but this time cornerback Josh Robinson was whistled for pass interference on an incompletion.
Eddie Lacy had an 11-yard touchdown run on the next play, breaking one tackle left before changing direction to find a clear path right across the goal line for a five-touchdown lead with 13:32 left in the third quarter.
The Packers' struggling running game got back on track, with Lacy running for a season-high 105 yards on 13 attempts. Lacy added a 10-yard touchdown run later in the third after barreling over safety Robert Blanton into the end zone.
The fans chanted "Ed-die! Ed-die!" before the extra-point attempt.
Rodgers was 12 of 17 for 156 yards, including a 66-yard scoring strike to Jordy Nelson in the first quarter.
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.
Green Bay's league-worst run defense also got off to good start, holding Minnesota's Matt Asiata to 67 yards on 14 carries.
Minnesota rarely advanced past midfield. Their only venture across the 50 in the first half ended with Burnett forcing Asiata to fumble after an 11-yard run, and Casey Hayward recovered the Vikings' third consecutive turnover.
Under pressure much of the night, Minnesota could rarely get anything going through the air in Ponder's first start since Dec. 3. Ponder was 13 of 27 for 122 yards.
The Vikings finally broke the shutout when Ponder ran for a 6-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. But they still trailed 42-7.
Ponder is Minnesota's third starting quarterback of the year, following Matt Cassel and Bridgewater. Cassel is out for the season with a broken left foot.
The Packers had four sacks, including 1 1/2 for Mike Daniels. Peppers combined with A.J. Hawk to sack Ponder on Minnesota's opening drive of the third quarter.
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. His return was questionable.
For Green Bay, defensive lineman Datone Jones left in the second quarter with an ankle injury.
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