The Green Bay Packers earned their biggest win of the season on Sunday night, beating the Minnesota Vikings 33-10 and moving closer to a playoff spot.
With their win and the Seattle Seahawks' loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier Sunday, the Packers now have a chance to secure a trip to the playoffs by beating the Chicago Bears next week. In the first year of the post-Aaron Rodgers era, and after dealing with injuries to their skill corps throughout the season, this would be a big accomplishment.
The win against Minnesota itself was a bit ridiculous, with the Packers jumping out to an early lead and turning the game into a blowout before even reaching halftime. Jordan Love had one of the best performances of his career as a starter, completing 24 of 33 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns while running for another. Aaron Jones was efficient and explosive on the ground, totaling 121 yards on his 20 carries.
The defense kept Minnesota's offense in check for most of the night, although with the way the offense played, even that performance became a bit of an afterthought. Yet it all ended with the Packers tying their record at 8-8, claiming at least a temporary hold of the NFC's No. 7 seed and putting themselves in position to have a win-win game at home during the final week of the regular season.
Here are some other things to know about the game.
Why the Packers won
They had much better answers for Brian Flores and the Vikings defense than in the first meeting between these two teams. Love was on point most of the night, calmly navigating the pocket and handling Brian Flores' various blitz packages with relative ease. The Packers averaged 6.4 yards per play and scored on six of their nine drives before garbage time, putting together one of their best offensive performances of the season.
Why the Vikings lost
Their offense was DOA with Jaren Hall at center, and by the time they realized it and made a change, it was too late. Hall was just 5 of 10 for 67 yards and an interception, while he also took three sacks and lost a fumble. The Vikings led 23-3 at the break before passing to Nick Mullens. It hardly mattered what Mullens was able to do in the second half; the Vikings had already left.
The Packers took a 3-0 lead by scoring a field goal on their second possession of the evening. On the ensuing Minnesota drive, Jaren Hall attempted to throw over the middle to tight end Johnny Mundt on a crossing route, but let the throw too far inside. The ball was thrown in the air, then intercepted by Corey Ballentine.
Two snaps later, Jordan Love connected with Jayden Reed on a touchdown over the seam. The Packers suddenly had a two-point lead and they didn't relinquish the advantage for the rest of the night.
Reed had a monster night with six catches for 89 yards and not one, but two touchdowns before leaving with a chest injury. His second trip to the end zone was particularly impressive, with the rookie taking an angular route from a stacked lineup and then shaking off several would-be tacklers as he crossed the goal line.
That score put the Packers up 23-3 with seconds left in the half and removed any lingering doubts about the final outcome of the game.
The Packers improve their record to 8-8 with this victory and at least temporarily seize seventh place in the NFC. Their last game of the season will take place next week against the Bears at home. If they win, they're in the playoffs.
The Vikings fall to 7-9 with this loss. Their last game of the season will take place next week against the Lions in Detroit. They need to win this game and get a lot of help to make the playoffs, but they're technically not out yet.