Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdowns as the Green Bay Packers took care of the Minnesota Vikings 43-34 in the season opener for both teams Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
In his 13th opener as the starting quarterback, Rodgers put on a clinic. He routinely made throws that made him look like he was back to his MVP ways. That was never on display more than his second-quarter touchdown to Davante Adams. The 36-year-old rolled to his right and fired a bullet to the sideline of the end zone where only his wide receiver could grab it.
The score was one of four on the day for Rodgers, the first time he’s done that in a season opener. His 364 yards passing were also the most in an opener and eight different receivers had at least one catch.
If you saw the word vintage trending on social media Sunday afternoon it was probably because of Rodgers’ performance.
Defense: Cornerback Jaire Alexander
Yes, he gave up some plays late, but Alexander also made, perhaps, the biggest play of the game on defense. Trailing 7-3, and after the Packers had failed to convert on fourth down from the 1-yard line, Alexander came free for a safety on Minnesota’s next possession.
The safety gave them the two points and the ball back, which led to another Green Bay field goal. Later in the second quarter, he picked off Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins, setting up the Packers second touchdown of the day and giving them a 22-7 lead.
Special teams: Mason Crosby
In what was an otherwise quiet night from the special teams, the veteran kicker hit both of his field goal attempts, including from 43 yards, while also hitting all five of his extra points.
Adams on what he saw from Rodgers this week:
“I saw that laser focus come the beginning of the week. Obviously he’s always focused but there is a certain type of look in his eye he has, and he definitely had that going into the week.
“That’s my guy. I expect nothing less from him at this point. We’ve been going seven years together. We talked a lot this week about how we wanted to attack this game, starting fast, because we know, the team goes as we go. So we try to put as much as we can on us and just lead the way.”
Rodgers on playing in a stadium with no fans:
“It was very strange. One of the strangest experiences that I’ve had in the NFL.”
In Case You Missed It
— The Packers were not on the field for the national anthem or “Lift Every Voice And Sing”. President/CEO Mark Murphy released a statement during the game explaining their absence:
“The Green Bay Packers respect the national anthem and United States flag and all that they represent, including the right to express ourselves.
“We decided as a team to remain in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem and ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ so as to not distract from our message that we stand united for social justice and racial equality.
“This is part of our continued call on our leaders to engage in meaningful dialogue that results in change. We feel it is important for all of us to participate in these difficult conversations with humility and be open to different perspectives.”
— Nine players made their NFL debuts — Krys Barnes, Josiah Deguara, AJ Dillon, Tipa Galeai, Jonathan Garvin, John Lovett, Jon Runyan, Vernon Scott and Malik Taylor.
— Barnes was called up from the practice squad on Saturday. He ended up starting at inside linebacker next to Christian Kirksey, finishing with seven tackles, including two for loss.
— The Packers suffered a pair of potentially serious injuries along the offensive line. Guard Lucas Patrick left with a shoulder injury in the first half and then the other guard, Lane Taylor, suffered a knee injury that led to him being carted off the field. Green Bay also lost star defensive tackle Kenny Clark to a knee injury in the first half.
— Right tackle Billy Turner was inactive due to a knee injury. Guard Elgton Jenkins started in his place while Patrick started at left guard. When Patrick got hurt, Jenkins went back to left guard and Rick Wagner came in at right tackle.
Inside the Numbers
14 — That’s how many reception Adams had on the day, tying a team record set by Don Hutson in 1942. Adams turned those receptions into 156 yards and two touchdowns. He’s got 27 catches the last two games against Minnesota.
96 — That’s how many yards receiving Marquez Valdes-Scantling had. The third-year receiver had a great training camp and it showed early against Minnesota, including on a 48-yard touchdown. Two drops followed that, but Rodgers came back to him several more times and he delivered with two more first-down grabs.
12 — That’s how many tackles Kirksey had in his first game with the Packers.
0 — That’s how many sacks the Packers gave up despite having to shuffle their offensive line around due to injuries. They gave up zero sacks just once all last year.
41:16 — That’s how long the Packers had the ball on Sunday. It’s their highest TOP since 2009.
43 — That’s how many points the Vikings gave up — the most they’ve ever allowed in a season opener.
Green Bay (1-0) comes home to Lambeau Field to face Detroit (0-1) on Sunday at 12 p.m.